Canadian Musician - May / June 2018 - Page 46

MTL04 “One of the unique qualities of [Montreal bands] was they weren’t a bunch of kids who grew up in the same city. They came from different parts of the world and all had different influences.” -Dan Seligman, Pop Montreal Dan Seligman somebody told me and they were blowing up.” At its core, there was a certain amount of hype that was inflating what was really going on. As Versteeg explains, it’s not like you would pop into a bar every night and see Arcade Fire playing to nobody. But there was a truth that was central to all of the breathless rhetoric. “The hype is always bigger than what the thing is in reality,” he says, “but I think what the hype captured is that feeling of people being young and creative and feeling like they can do whatever they want, chasing that romantic, creative feeling that a lot of really great scenes have at the centre of them.” Every rock scene will produce one band that goes further than their peers. What’s more, their popularity will mean their aes- thetic will become the defining one for a scene that’s usually more diverse than it’s given credit for. Guns N’ Roses will always be the sound of Los Angeles metal despite sounding nothing like Tesla. Nirvana and Alice in Chains have almost nothing in common except a shared home city. Think of a rock band from New York City from the turn of the millennium and you’ll probably bring up The Strokes way before Interpol. For Montreal, that defining 46 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N band is unquestionably Arcade Fire, but even then, their accom- plishments have been relatively modest. Funeral went gold in the United States, selling 500,000 copies – a big number for most bands, but hardly earth shattering numbers, even at the height of illegal downloads and file sharing. Which raises the question – if Win and friends are the city’s Nirvana, did the shifts in the music industry keep there from being an equivalent to Sound- garden or Pearl Jam? For Lightburn, the answer is something he’s spent years con- sidering as one of the few people of colour fronting a popular rock band in Canada. Canadian music specifically, and the music indus- try in general, doesn’t know what to do with dark skinned people outside of a narrow conception. “The challenge we still face in 2018 is, when you’re the only voice of colour in the Canadian rock music landscape, it’s really tough. You want to talk support system? You have no support system,” he says. “You can never have everyone in the same room together. It’s kinda sad because then you can’t create a real community of people of colour in rock and roll.” Hollerado were poised to break out big after the release of their 2010 album, Record in a Bag. The band, with its knack for classic Cheap Trickian hooks and punk pop energy, seemed like the safest bet to come out of a scene more known for quirkiness and enigmatism. But the group never quite graduated to the superstardom level. After touring non-stop for years and putting out a sophomore release in 2013, the group has since slowed its roll. Today, Versteeg is more focused on running Royal Mountain Records, home to Mac DeMarco, PUP, and other up-and-coming tastemakers. (Despite almost sharing a name with Montreal’s landmark Mount Royal, the label is based in Toronto.) “Not everyone is trying be the next Arcade Fire,” says Versteeg. “You’re trying to have a great time and be young and make some art you’re really proud of and have fun with your friends. We have that attitude that it would be great to become international superstars, but I can speak for myself when I say that was never the reason Hollerado was doing it.” Montreal is still catching international attention with some exciting sounds. It’s hard to shake a stick at a music blog that isn’t writing about Grimes these days, for instance. A lot of the factors that led to the explo- sion in the 2000s are still there. “It’s really economics. Who can afford to move to Brooklyn and start a band? You have to be from a certain class, you have to have inherited wealth in one sense or another,” says Boeckner. “Here, it’s cheap enough that even if you’re from a lower middle class or poor family, you can move here and work a job and start a band.” Still, Grimes and Mac DeMarco seem more like individual artists getting their due attention rather than being part of a great whole. Since the mid-2000s scene, it’s hard to think of another musical movement anywhere so connected with a single geographic location. Too much has changed. Musical partnerships and kinships are more likely to be shared via Soundcloud than opening slots. Music itself has fractured into a million different subgenres, each of which is entirely accessible online. In a lot of ways, that’s a good thing. Music fans and musicians are less prone to identify with a single type, leading ܙX]]BX\\[\[ۚX[ݘ][ۋ]HXو\[ۈYX[š]8&\\^HY\H[]\H[\YH[K]8&\\XX[HYHو\Y\[] '[Xۈ\[[X][ܝ\OYHۈH[Hۛœ[]\X\[XH[HXZ\و[XXZ]\\š][XK'B[]\[YZ[[]XYX[Z^وXۛZX[\B[[\H[\Y\YH[[ܘ\H[\HYZ[\[B]ܛ\و[ܞHY[XZHYH\OXۙ\܈ۙK\[[Z\Xˈ[Y\[K]H\BX\[[[Y[ ܈][\H\ [XZHY][œ[H[]][\[\۸&][]^H[][YHۋ'H[][Y[][H\[YZ[8'HH^\8'\H[[^\BXZYXˈ\H[[^\HY[ۙHܞ\[^\B[Y[^x&\H[[\][ۙ]\ۘ]H]HHو[H]YHZ\ܛ\وY[^H\Y^Z[]\X܋'BY[HݘX\HY[[H\[\\Y]و[۝X[