THE WAKING EYES as part of Edgefest at Molson Amphitheatre (909 Lakeshore West), Friday (July 1). $25.50-$47.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
You might think Matt Peters, lead singer/guitarist of the Waking Eyes, whose new single, On A Train, is making the rounds on MuchMusic and modern rock radio, would use this interview to wax poetic about his band. But all he wants to talk about is Pink Floyd.
"Man, I'm dying to go to Live 8 in London. Just seeing Waters and Gilmour on the same stage after 25 years is like all my dreams coming true at once. They don't even have to play; they could just stand there and it would be enough. But I hope they play Astronomy Domine. Do you think they'll play Astronomy Domine?"
Okay, I guess I started it by telling him that the song they copped their name from (Echoes) is from my favourite Floyd album, Meddle.
"Wow, mine, too," Peters says, a childlike sense of wonderment preventing him from speaking at anything approaching normal speed. "Most people say Dark Side or Wish You Were Here, but Meddle is where it all started. The version of Echoes on Live At Pompeii is my favourite, though. I like how they did it in two parts instead of the normal 23-minute version. Do you like it better? I mean, I love the album version, but Gilmour's playing on the Pompeii set is just so fucking unbelievable. I can't get enough of it, you know?"
Although his love of Pink Floyd borders on obsessive, he and his bandmates have kept any tendencies toward artsy prog rock at bay, opting instead for straight-up, balls-to-the-wall rock and roll. If you're tired of all the oversensitive emo-pop that makes you pine for your high school sweetheart, then maybe it's time you checked out the Waking Eyes.
These Winnipeg garage-psych-rockers with a penchant for Magical Mystery-era Beatles outfits put on some of the most intense, high-energy live shows you're ever likely to see. They're always inviting and inciting you to rise.
Just don't mention the 80s and everything will work out fine. Their sound's more indebted to 70s classic rock than to post-punk or new wave, and Peters still finds it strange that they get lumped in with all the 80s revivalist bands.
"I'm much more interested in the times when it was about the music. Otis Redding, Pink Floyd, the Beatles: that's where I'm at. Really, I don't get all these bands who are doing the 80s thing and expect to be taken seriously. We don't take ourselves as a band too seriously, and I think that's obvious. But the music, that's a different matter entirely."
At this year's Edgefest, they share a bill with the likes of Billy Talent, Coheed and Alexisonfire.
"I hope we don't get too many bottles thrown at us when the crowd realizes we're not a punk band, just some rock guys from Manitoba who are way more into the Beatles than the Ramones."
Since their single Watch Your Money got played a hundred a times a day last summer and their new one's gaining ground, I assure Peters that the Edgefest faithful are bound to know at least a couple of their songs. But for fun, why not do a mellow 30-minute Pink Floyd cover?
"Yeah, that'd be hilarious. I'm sure we'd confuse them even more. We're planning on playing a lot of our new tunes, actually, which are very short. I love how short songs can complement the longer ones, and it's neat how we have them flowing together like a suite. Our new stuff is really catchy, and we're trying to work in strings with orchestral movements, but it's still rock and roll."
It sounds similar to what the Beatles did, to which Peters responds with another childlike outburst.
"Sort of. But we could never come close to what they did. Do you like Paul or John better? I know most people go for John, but I think Paul wrote the best pop songs, whereas John was the get-down-and-dirty rock guy. Especially on The White Album. It's my favourite. Is it yours?
"What do you think?"