Canadian Musician - May / June 2018 - Page 44

MTL04 Teen Spirit” music video, Jack and Meg White’s red-and-white, are-they-siblings-or-married aesthetic. For the Montreal scene, that iconic moment was the day Spin magazine’s February 2005 issue hit newsstands. Headlined “The Next Big Scene,” the five- page spread touted a forebearer (Godspeed You! Black Emperor), the usual rock suspects (Arcade Fire, The Dears, Sam Roberts, Stars), a DJ (Kid Koala), and a few acts that history will likely label also-rans. The magazine even drew a handy map of the small stretch of St-Laurent Blvd., previously best-known internationally for famed smoked meat joint Schwartz’s, where much of the mu- sical activity was taking place – clubs like Cafe Campus and Casa Del Popolo and hangouts like the still-popular Bifteck and now-defunct Korova (now home to a pinball arcade). The article conveyed the excitement of the time – wander into a venue and hear the next big thing! Grab a cheap beer and bowl of free Wolf Parade popcorn at Bifteck and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of one of The Unicorns buying The Stills a drink! “I thought that was a pretty good representation of the Mon- treal scene,” says Boeckner. “It was very chaotic and there was a lot of booze and everybody was pretty friendly.” But the scene was more fractured than it appeared. Over time, the popular conception of Montreal’s indie music has been seen in Arcade Fire-ian terms: bombastic songwriting, orchestral instrumentation, a focus on mood and atmosphere over conventional hooks and pop songcraft. “I always felt there was definitely a divide between the upper-middle class Toronto people who moved here to do indie rock Menno Versteeg. “One Pop Montreal, we rent- and then the B.C. people. It seemed segregat- ed out this apartment and threw a three-day ed in a lot of ways,” Boeckner offers. “In cultural party with 12 kegs. We had free nachos for history, hindsight has a way of blending every- everyone and we got all these bands to play. thing together into a coherent narrative, but It was the kind of thing you couldn’t really for us, we still get tagged with this orchestral do. I couldn’t see that working in downtown mid-2000s rock thing, but if you look at it Toronto.” objectively, we were never really like that.” As Lightburn explains, by the time the Music scenes are the result of slow builds. world was paying attention, the bands were Socioeconomic factors that go back decades touring too much to form any real bonds, combine with geography, weather, and a social or musical. While he and his bandmates thousand other things to make the conditions developed friendships with some other groups necessary for an artistic scene. But for the like Stars, he points out that he mostly learned average music fan, picking apart the catalysts about what was happening in the city by pe- that made the British Invasion happen is rusing magazines in airports while on the road. boring. The scenes, in all their complexity, will “We missed so much,” he says. “You would get boiled down to a few iconic moments or hear about a band and you’d have no idea images: The Beatles playing Ed Sullivan for the they were from Montreal, like Wolf Parade. I first time, the opening shots of the “Smells Like didn’t know they were from Montreal until mid-‘90s, the scene was extremely different from what it is now. For example, musically, a lot of it was much more stripped down.” With few record labels of much note for Anglophone artists, home recording not yet affordable to anyone with a MacBook, the scene revolved around the few non-pay- to-play venues that hired original bands and people running small recording facilities. Lightburn points to Howard Bilerman, a Grammy-winning engineer and producer and one-time drummer for Arcade Fire, as one of those figures. Bilerman would go on to found Hotel2Tango, a studio that’s played host to everyone from Hey Rosetta! to King Khan to Owen Pallett. Besnard Lakes, were helping bands get their sound together. If people went to New York or Toronto as mercenaries to get noticed, the ones who came to Montreal ended up making it their true home. “I think what really emerged at that time, which is maybe the uniting force is these artists and people in the music industry is, in- stead of, ‘I’m going to get successful and move to New York or L.A.,’ it was like, ‘I’m going to have a little success and like Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes, I’m going to open Breakglass,” says Seligman. With studios, venues, and jam spaces opening up, it created a sort of creative loop. Newer bands like Hollerado, which formed in the Ottawa subu ɉ̰ѕȁչ)Ёɝѥ́A5ɕ+q%Ё݅́Ё፥ѥ%Ё݅́፥д)Ѽ䁵ͥѡɔЁѡȁ̰)Ѽ̳͡t́ͅ!Ʌɽѵ+qQɔݕɔ܁ɽչt)ɕ́1щɸq%Ёх́)ȁɱɕɑ̰$ݽձѼ)!݅ɐ ɵéՑݡЁ݅)ѥ5AMչ́$ݽձ)ɕɐѡɔѡ'eոЁ䁅)ݽձȁѼЁݽɬЁѡՑѼ)䁽ѡɕЁ䁉MЁѡЁ)՝ѡt)]Ёѡ䁱ѡɽ)̰Ёյѥ=ѡ)5ɕé͡фͤ)́ɅЁչѥ̰ѡAѕ)ɡ݅́ѕɽѥٕՕ) ̈́Aݹ)ͥЁ5ɼA镹є)͔I)ɵɱ䁥ɥȁɍե̸)ͥ!ѕQѥ́ ɕ)́MՑ̰ݹ)1͕ѡ(Ѓ 8$84TL$ $8