The Receivers’ Nicolas Côté (left), Joseph Donovan, Howard Martin, Emilie Marzinotto and Ramsay Jackson like their pop moody.
RECEIVERS with SLEEPING KINGS OF IONA at Rancho Relaxo (300 College), tonight (Thursday, July 31), 9 pm. $5. 416-920-0366.
You know you've got something good going if people are willing to take huge risks just to work with you.
Take Montreal five-piece Receivers, for example. Founded by in-demand producer and studio runner Joseph Donovan (the Dears, Sam Roberts) after the demise of his previous band, Marlowe, Receivers showed so much potential that members of Montreal's music scene were more than willing to bet on their success.
As Donovan explains over the phone from Montreal, lead vocalist Emilie Marzinotto agreed to relocate 5,000 kilometres from Vancouver just to be part of the band, while Ramsay Jackson upped the ante even further.
"He knew we needed a drummer and he told me he really wanted to play drums in the band," recalls Donovan, "I said, ‘Well, that's great, but you don't know how to play drums!'"
But Jackson's gamble eventually worked. Donovan gave him two weeks to learn all the drum parts to the 11 songs on the band's brooding indie rock debut, Consider The Ravens (either/or). When Donovan returned two weeks later, Jackson had the beats down cold and was officially welcomed into the fold.
"He's one of those guys who does whatever he puts his mind to," says Donovan of Jackson's moxie.
The same is true of Donovan himself. After becoming disenchanted with studying philosophy at McGill in the 90s, he turned to digital recording and eventually opened up his own studio, known as the Stock Market. It was there in early 2006 that he produced Sam Roberts's hit LP Chemical City. Afterwards, Donovan toured with Roberts's band as a bassist for a few weeks, and it was because of that relationship that Receivers got their big break.
"I was on tour with Sam Roberts and we were driving back to Montreal when their manager suddenly realized, ‘We don't have an opening act for the Montreal show!' So they asked me if Receivers wanted to play."
It was a great offer, with only one serious drawback: Receivers were still brand new and hadn't played any shows yet. Donovan took the risk and committed the band, even if he had some second thoughts. "I didn't think we were ready technically, but we played anyway and it was great! Sometimes you just have to jump in."
In the time since that first show, Donovan has relocated the studio (it's now called Mountain City) where Receivers put the finishing touches on Ravens a few months ago. Even though the record has just been released, the band is back recording again - which is one of those perks that comes with having a producer and self-confessed "gear head" in the band.
"We're working right now on what might be a second record or an EP," Donovan says. "There's a really good atmosphere in the band right now, and I want to take advantage of that to just bash something out."