The Stills with the Miniatures and Memory Bank at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), tonight (Thursday, April 8). Sold out. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
The success of Montreal's The Stills happened so suddenly, the band hasn't had time to think. With a recent EP, Rememberese, and full-length, Logic Will Break Your Heart, on Vice Records, the foursome have garnered a whack of media attention, making the bands-to-watch-out-for lists of both Rolling Stone and NME.
They've played sold-out shows all over the U.S., been on Conan, Craig Kilborn and Carson Daly, shared bills with Interpol, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Rapture and with Ryan Adams at the Reading and Leeds festivals in the UK
"It was at the end of the last tour that we started realizing everything that had happened in a year," says guitarist/vocalist Dave Hamelin. "We had played SXSW the year before and there was hardly anyone at our show. This year we played and it was a huge show."
Being Canadian, Hamelin points out, they weren't at all expecting things to go so well.
"It's hard get any attention outside of Canada, especially if you're a Montrealer. But now we're doing way better in the States than we do in Canada. And Lola Stars And Stripes (the UK single, not released in the U.S.) was a top- 40 hit in the UK - real top 40! Like Justin Timberlake."
So far so good. But there's been a little bit of backlash and resentment in Montreal.
"In Montreal it's all about how cool you are and how much indie cred you have and how un-American you are. So because we split to the States to make our record and did things in a seemingly opportunistic fashion, there are a million reasons for Montrealers to dismiss us as sellouts - which is ridiculous, cuz I'm broke!"
Then there's the bitterness of fellow Canadian rockers the Unicorns, who made nasty comments about the Stills in interviews.
"The weird thing is, they were playing with us when those interviews came out. I don't want to talk about it, because I don't want to give it more weight than it deserves."
Logic Will Break Your Heart is melancholy new new wave, Brit pop rock with shades of Radiohead, the Cure and the Smiths as well as the likes of Interpol and the Walkmen. It's still original - mopey and dreamy, yet catchy and aggressive.
The last time I saw three of the four Stills - Hamelin, vocalist Tim Fletcher and bassist Oliver Crowe (guitarist Greg Paquet is the other one) - sometime in the late 90s, they were teenagers in a ska band called the Undercovers with a release on Montreal's Stomp records.
Much of the shift came thanks to the lovely and amazing producer of Logic Will Break Your Heart, Gus Coriandoli, formerly of Montreal ska band Me Mom and Morgentaler and now residing in NYC, who took an interest in the Undercovers way back when and produced their record, Some People.
"In my life," says Hamelin of Coriandoli's influence, "there's, like, my parents and then there's Gus. He was my hero when I was a kid, and he introduced us to all kinds of music and taught us all about songwriting and production and generally about music as a whole. He got us into so many bands, like the Cure, the Smiths, the Clash, Elvis Costello, and from there we got into a thousand other things. He got me into the Beatles. I didn't like the Beatles until then because my mom liked them."
Coriandoli produced a second Undercovers record that was never released. Later, after listening to that record again, he encouraged them to return to playing live. Now they spend much time on the road and take things as they come.
Says Hamelin, "You just can't think about everything, because if you do you'll go insane." email@example.com