CLASS OF 2007: A NEW GRADE OF INDIE-ROCK GENIUS featuring the NYMPHETS (12:15 am) with ACTION MAKES (1 am), HOT MONOGAMY (11:30 pm), EVAN GORDON & HIS SAD CLOWNS (10:45 pm), BASEMENT ARMS (10 pm) and HARMONY TROWBRIDGE (9:15 pm) at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Friday (January 12). $5. 416-763-9139. Rating: NNNNN
Having rocked Montreal clubs for three years now, the Nymphets are aware of what kind of havoc a little global hype can wreak on an indie rock scene.
For one thing, unless your group has more than six members, wears helmets or has a handle that explicitly mentions wolves or fire, it's much tougher to get a downtown gig in Montreal these days. Even the dives are getting choosy about which locals they book.
"The first show we ever played was at Bar Fly," recalls drum-smacker Johanna Heldebro from the Montreal pad she shares with guitarist Jared Leon, "and we set that up no more than two weeks before the gig. But now if you want to play Bar Fly - a divey little venue - you have to book, like, three, maybe four months in advance.
"I don't know if there's been a dramatic increase in bands here, but it definitely seems like a lot more of them sound like Arcade Fire, even though we don't run in those circles."
The hyperactive Buzzcockian bash-'n'-crash knocked out by the three-piece Nymphets on their self-released debut disc is about as far away from the ensemble melodrama of the Arcade Fire as you could get using guitars and drums - although that hasn't stopped anyone in the press from reaching for parallels.
"It's funny - when we were on tour in Europe last summer, some newspaper in Denmark previewed our show and mentioned Arcade Fire in the same sentence. Our promoter was thrilled because he thought it would fill the club, however inaccurate the comparison.
"When Jared and I started the band, our main influence was all that late-70s punk stuff like the Ramones and the Buzzcocks, which I think comes across in the sound of our debut disc. But I think Jared would be happy to see us moving in a New Order or Roxy Music direction; that's what he's been into lately, whereas I've been getting into more death metal - y'know, stuff like At the Gate and Cannibal Corpse."
Being that Heldebro is the Nymphets designated time-keeper, suddenly the band's breakneck tempos make sense.
"Oh yeah," giggles Heldebro mischievously, "speed is really important to us. Because we weren't particularly skilled musicians when we first got together - I'd never played drums before the Nymphets - we wanted to play as loud and fast as possible. Over the years, instead of slowing down, we've just gotten faster and faster.
"We're recording a new single soon, so who knows? Both songs might clock in at under a minute."