SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO at the Mod Club (722 College), Monday (September 17), 9:30 pm doors. $14.50. www.ticketweb.ca. Rating: NNNNN
In what qualifies as one of the odder moments in pop music so far this century, the UK indie band Simian's greatest legacy is sure to be fallout from Justice's We Are Your Friends remix. It's still getting played every weekend in every major city in the world more than four years after it came out, even though the track lost the remix contest they made it for.
Not only did the fluke hit launch Justice's career, but it's also been one of the key forces advancing Simian's offspring, Simian Mobile Disco, aka James Ford and Jas Shaw.
"It's an obvious thing to pick up on, because that song was quite big. It really did help us out as DJs and remixers to make progress more quickly than I suppose we would have otherwise," admits Ford from his UK home. "But really, we were on this path anyway -- we would have got here, but it might have taken longer.
"Even before Simian, we were making songs that, weirdly, weren't that dissimilar to what we're doing now. Simian started off as more of a production project but turned into a band, and an indie band at that. After that ended, Jas and I just went back to the stuff that really excited us, which is playing around with electronics."
The duo's debut album is very much boys playing with electronics. Even its name, Attack Decay Sustain Release (Wichita), is a reference to the envelope-shaping controls on synthesizers.
Not to say that you'd confuse it with some nerdy experimental techno. This is still very much about the interplay between rock and dance music, and Ford and Shaw have made a conscious effort to pare down the extended club versions to concise, catchy album versions.
Big, catchy hooks notwithstanding, it's very evident from talking with Ford that Simian Mobile Disco is much more rooted in the tradition of electronic music than that of rock.
"A lot of the inspiration and energy comes more from sounds and textures, and even equipment in a weird way. Most of the lyrics are pretty throw-away, so it's more about the sounds than anything else.
"That random factor is kind of the main thing with that kind of gear. You start out with an idea and get pretty near to it, but then something will go slightly wrong and you get taken in a new direction.
"It's about recognizing when those directions are good and using the happy accidents. That's definitely a massive part of how we make our music -- it's all pretty much accidental."