Playing just for fun is as relaxing as it sounds
THE SUPER FRIENDZ at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (November 16), doors 9 pm. $15. HS, RT, SS, TM. See listing.
During Canada’s East Coast music explosion in the 90s, the Super Friendz put out a couple of great indie rock records and boasted a loud, sweaty, exuberant live show. They officially broke up in 1997 but briefly reunited in 2003 to release Love Action, an album with fine moments but lacking the melodic magic of 1995’s Mock Up, Scale Down and 1996’s Slide Show.
It’s been almost 10 years since we’ve heard from the Friendz. But thanks to an invitation from Halifax Pop Explosion executive director Jonny Stevens to play the fest last month, they’ve reunited, at least momentarily.
“When you’re in a band strictly for the sake of playing for fun, it relaxes the vibe, for sure,” says bassist/vocalist Charles Austin. “That’s the situation we’re in now. I think we’re all just happy to be able to play together once in a while. We’re all a little mellower.”
Composed of Austin, guitarists/vocalists Matt Murphy and Drew Yamada, and a few different drummers, primarily Dave Marsh, the band melds all three singers’ musical tastes. Like fellow Haligonians Sloan, the Friendz had more in common with the Kinks and Television than with bands popular at the time.
“When we started, we made a rule: no fuzz pedals,” says Austin, who runs the Echo Chamber recording studio in Halifax. “Not because we didn’t like distortion. We just thought it had been done well by other people before us. So the guitar and bass parts got more fractured and arranged in a novel way.
“We play our old stuff pretty faithfully. We did a rehearsal without drums a few months ago, and the parts seemed so weird without a backbeat.”
With a semi-finished record awaiting their attention and the Pop Explosion gig having gone “way better than it should have,” what’s keeping them from reuniting permanently?
“I think I speak for all the guys when I say that we like to play,” Austin says. “But we all have really busy lives, and just organizing the two shows was a big job. Drew is a doctor, Dave plays with Joel Plaskett, Matt produces for the CBC.”
As for Austin, he just won studio engineer of the year at the Nova Scotia Music Awards.