THE OLD SOUL with the BICYCLES as part of Wavelength at Sneaky Dee's (431 College), Sunday (February 20), pwyc. 416-603-3090, www.wavelengthtoronto.com. Rating: NNNNN
Old soul frontman Luca Maoloni is sick of being compared to Brian Wilson.
"That bothers me a little bit," he concedes, sitting in a cozy Queen West bar with saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Juri Biondic.
"It's such an easy comparison because of the harmonies," says Maoloni. "But other bands have harmonies, too. I mean, Three Dog Night had harmonies, so why doesn't anyone compare us to them? Or Lee Hazlewood? I think it's a bit of a cop-out, really."
Hey, man, it could be worse. Your band could be compared to Ugly Kid Joe or David Hasselhoff. Cheer up.
"It's a great reference point, but there's so much more to us than that," Maoloni insists. "We've got distorted guitar and a bunch of other stuff in there, too."
Still, the comparison isn't unwarranted, and when you put a cover version of Vege-Tables (originally featured on Wilson's lost classic Smile) on your band's debut record, you should not be surprised when critics start pulling out Pet Sounds.
"The reason for the cover is that the original is so badly recorded," he shrugs. "I don't want to sound pompous or anything, but the original recording just didn't do the song justice."
Pompous? More like megalomaniacal. (According to Maoloni, Brian Wilson sidekick and Smile lyricist Van Dyke Parks "shit his pants" when he heard the updated version. Uh, yeah.)
While Maoloni admits to a childhood Beach Boys obsession and a current love affair with orch-pop progeny like the Flaming Lips, he likens Old Soul to a compendium of the last 70 years of popular music. Even seemingly unrelated genres play a small part in the experience.
"Some of the new stuff is a bit metal," he says, referring to some double kick action on one of the band's new tunes courtesy of drummer Jay Anderson. "And with Pro Tools, you can do anything. If I were recording with tape, it would probably sound like Kim Mitchell or Moe Berg or something."
Maoloni started the Old Soul as a solo project after his previous band, White Star Line, "dissolved." After some initial Old Soul recording sessions were lost due to a faulty hard drive, he decamped to London, Ontario, with engineer Andy Magoffin to begin the project in earnest.
Although Maoloni manned most of the instruments himself, he also roped in a few additional players to help out. When the sessions finished about a year ago, he decided to take the project live.
"The last record was just me," he says, "but now everyone throws stuff in."
Maoloni now considers Old Soul a full band with a core group of five musicians (including bassist Matt McClaren and guitarist Nick Taylor), and Maoloni says Old Soul will hit the stage Sunday as a nine-piece.
"This band is a good vibe," he says. "We're a party band. We're like a really good wedding. If I had the money, I'd get 30 people onstage."