THE QUARTERTONES CD release with KOBAYASHI , DJ FASE and JOHN KONG at Supermarket (268 Augusta), Friday (March 11). $10, $15 with CD. 416-840-0501, www.thequartertones.com. Rating: NNNNN
It's just a few moments into our interview and Planet Pea of the Quartertones is already telling me secrets.
"I have the ability to predict the future," he confides, his dark eyes twinkling. "We've won a Juno already." Is the Juno for this record, I ask? Pea nods. "The next one is Grammy Award-winning."
The prizewinner Pea is alluding to is Hidden In Plain Sight, which gets its release at Supermarket Friday.
Toronto's Quartertones have been around in one form or another since the late 90s; their permanent lineup currently consists of Pea on laptop, guitarist Jimmy Green (Tai Ara), bassist C5K0 (Kori Ayukawa), vocalist Ms. Bates (Katherine Bates) and DJ Serious.
They established a following several years ago with their legendary Freestylin' sessions, and there was a time when you couldn't seem to get away from a Quartertones flyer, poster or radio plug. So it's a surprise to learn that Hidden In Plain Sight is the group's first release.
"And this is the greatest thing," says Pea, "- the album's title has so many connotations. We've been in Toronto for so-o-o long, and everybody knows us. If you say 'the Quartertones,' people know us. We're amongst everybody, but they still haven't really seen who we are."
Hanging over the discussion of the band's identity is a very blunt question: just what do you call your music? Years have passed since the Quartertones began experimenting with live jazz-funk-hiphop fusions, but it's still impossible to describe the experience with one broad term.
"We did some brainstorming," says Green, joining the conversation, "and we were going with 'laptop funk' or 'acid funk. '"
Bates smiles. "Whenever people ask me, I always end up taking a big breath and naming six or seven types of music, and then I explain what everybody does," she says. "It's such a long process."
The rest of my questions are tossed to the winds as Green, Bates and Pea debate possible marketing gimmicks for the band: Rock 'n' roll leather jackets? Sunglasses? Serious spinning in sequins? The petite Ms. Bates laughs. "Can you imagine me chugging a beer onstage?"
Pea's got other ideas. "Maybe we could go, 'Fouuuuur!' cuz it's the quarter tones." They laugh and go on debating.
"Our bassist, C5, says it's like we're married to each other," says Pea. "This marriage has allowed us to grow with one another, and our music will grow, too. This is just the first step in an evolution process."
"We've already got our minds on what's next," says Green. "There's no sleep. If we sleep now, it's done."