NO DYNAMICS with BOY BALLS as part of Santa Cruz at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Friday (April 8). $8. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
Trudging through the snow in some Parkdale alley this winter, I was greeted by a river of disappointed indie rockers flooding down the lane. Apparently, the cops had just busted up the evening's illegal jam at the Dufferin Hotel - an art space that's not really a hotel - and everybody was scattering. Bummer.
One of the bands set to play that night was No Dynamics, a local noise-wave quartet that prefers the vibe of weirdo squatting spots to the relative comfort and acoustics of regular rock clubs.
"Clubs are really boring," says the band's guitarist, Daniel Vila. "I hate their ideology, the idea of art selling beer. If we never have to play another show in a club I would be happy."
While we shouldn't expect to see them at Casino Rama any time soon, locals will get the chance to catch No Dynamics on a real stage when the band hits the 'Shoe for the latest instalment of Santa Cruz.
The roots of the band go back to 2002, when Vila spotted drummer Jeremy Finkelstein playing at a party for Trucker Magazine. Then performing as turntable terrorist DJ Product Placement, Finkelstein was known for aggressive sets filled with deafening record scratching. He was also fond of throwing records at his audience.
Despite his rep, the pair became fast friends. With keyboardist Carl Didur on board, the trio played a show at Cinecycle (which Vila describes as "total shit") but wouldn't form in earnest until they recruited singer Vanessa Fischer last year.
Around this time, though, Finkelstein (who suffers from bouts of serious depression caused by a bipolar condition) fled to the States and ended up on San Francisco's Market Street banging on a bucket for spare change. Despite pulling in around $30 a day, he soon decided it was time to get back home again.
"After that," Finkelstein tells me, "I was like, 'I love life again. '"
With Finkelstein back in the GTA and sitting behind a real set of drums, the band finally started to make some headway. Vila credits Fischer with kick-starting the project.
"If it weren't for Vanessa, we'd probably be toiling in obscurity," he sighs. "Not that were not toiling in obscurity now, but we probably wouldn't exist. She can make stuff up right on the spot."
On the day of our meeting, the band is fresh from a recording session with engineer Jeff McMurrich (Sea Snakes, Rockets Red Glare). Considering that their shows are often played in shower-stall venues with tin-can acoustics and the P.A. of a small van, how did it feel to hear their music blaring back at them through a set of hi-fi studio monitors?
"We really have no dynamics," says Vila. "The original idea for this band was to be forte, forte, forte."
"There were a lot of mood swings," adds Finkelstein. "Sometimes, we'd be saying, 'Fuck, how's this gonna sound?' and then later we'd be like, 'We're the best band ever! Skeet, skeet, skeet!'"
"There was a lot of pressure," continues Fischer, "but we can't afford to record any more."
Not that they should worry. Judging from the fact that Finkelstein's hands were bruised from bashing the shit out of his drums, the release should be a very hot slab of wax.
"We're not serious," adds Finkelstein with a grin. "We only practise before shows. We've only practised maybe 20 times, but that's how we keep the raw energy."