Death From Above 1979 with controller. controller and From Fiction at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, July 28), 9 pm; with C'mon and UNCUT Friday (July 29), 9 pm; all-ages dry show with C'mon and Masia One Saturday (July 30), 3:30 pm; with the Illuminati and Priestess Saturday (July 30), 9 pm. Sold out. 416-598-4753.
Anyone buying tickets for the up coming Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age tour - which hits the Air Canada Centre November 11 - may be surprised to learn that Toronto thunderous thud twosome Death from Above 1979 have been hired as support for the entire fall stadium swing.
Apart from turning up their volume past already eardrum-damaging levels, DFA 1979 don't appear to have much in common with the headliners, but those who've been following the fast-track progress of Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger will notice a pattern emerging.
Their unlikely tour pairings and odd European festival bills aren't a matter of bad planning or fiscal expedience. It's actually all part of DFA 1979's clever strategy to build a bigger, broader audience for their music.
"The first big tours we did were with Billy Talent and then Alexisonfire," recalls Grainger (Keeler's busy finishing work on the new Magneta Lane album). "At first we were skeptical. Not because we didn't think they were good bands; it just seemed like a big risk. We'd be playing before three or four other bands for a very young crowd, many of whom had never been to a rock show.
"It proved to be really good for us. Beyond expanding our horizons, it showed us how co-opting other artists' audiences could work to our benefit. Our first UK tour was opening for the Killers, and at the time it seemed totally inappropriate, but that likely worked in our favour, too. If anyone was booing us, we never heard it, because we play at such a loud volume."
After performing for thousands every day on the European outdoor festival circuit, the concept of playing four shows at the Horseshoe seems like an unusual move for DFA 1979. They could just as easily have done two nights at a larger venue instead.
"We were originally planning to do that, but we thought four nights at a club on the busiest street in Toronto with people outside having a good time in the summer would have more impact.
"I'm a big advocate of smaller shows," Grainger continues. "I like to hear the stage sound and feel the heat of a sweaty crowd going crazy. When you appear to be only a centimetre to everyone in a stadium, it's possible to move people - you just need, like, 200-foot-tall speaker stacks."
They'll get enough of that once they meet up with Nine Inch Nails at the SBC Center in San Antonio, Texas, on October 16. For the moment, Grainger sounds intrigued by the prospect of a series of daylight gigs in Astroturf-lined concrete bunkers across suburban America. And they also get to hang out with Trent Reznor every day!
"I was never really a big fan of Nine Inch Nails, but I'm still excited about playing this tour. Growing up, there'd be bands like Led Zeppelin doing shows in these huge arenas. You think it never happens any more, but it does, and we're going to be part of it.
"And doing the Nine Inch Nails tour will also give us a chance to steal some of their fans. We knew we'd eventually need to do it with a big band in the U.S. to find our place there."
In the meantime, they're readying a DFA 1979 B-sides and remixes compilation called Romance Bloody Romance (Last Gang) for release to coincide with the fall tour. They're also working on new material for the studio follow-up to 2004's You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (Last Gang), tentatively due in April 2006.
"During the short time we have off the road, Jesse and I are both doing our own thing, working on song ideas so maybe we can write a record about something other than touring."
Something like what, exactly?
"There'll be a song about diamonds, one about rotation and another about when wolves cry wolf. But I don't want to divulge all our secrets."