Saturday, August 16, 2008

Interview: Let's Dance

Let’s Dance were interviewed on August 16th, 2008 the day after their show in Toronto with TYRANNA and ZRO4.

Introduce yourselves and tell us what you do in the band?
Ben (B): I’m Ben. I jump around and sing for LET’S DANCE.
Thomas (T): I’m Thomas. I play guitar.
Matt (M): I’m Matt. I play bass and I love rainy nights.
Byron (By): I’m Byron and I play drums.
How long has LET’S DANCE been around for?
B: I would say coming up to two years now, but we had a lot of off time as far as people taking off to tour for other bands.
M: There was some member swaps.
B: I don’t think LET’S DANCE got serious until last year. Until we were like “Fuck this. Let’s get our act together and really start doing something.”
Have any of you been in previous bands before?
M: Yeah. We all dabbled. We went though our experimental stages.
B: Thomas and I were in DANCEFLOOR DISASTERS. We were on Longshot. We were also in YOUTH UNIT. I was also in a GLOBAL THREAT for a bit.
M: Me and Byron played in psychobilly band. That was our experimental days. I did a tour with a band from Manitoba called OUR MERCURY, as well.
What was the idea behind LET’S DANCE when you first started up or what is the idea behind the band because on your myspace site there is sort of a mission to rid Stabmonton of crust and indie rock. What is the idea behind the band?
B: True emotion.
M: Going nutty.
B: In the last year it has changed a lot as far as the personality of the band and the direction we want it to take. I think now it is just giving it all your heart and speaking out against everyone who is trying to bring people down for trying to do something different.
Is it related to a scene that exists in Edmonton right now? Are you a bit of a reaction to something?
M: I think it is just the feeling. In Edmonton we have some good record stores and a lot of record collectors. Everyone listens to a super broad range of stuff whether it is WIPERS or SLADE, which are two bands that probably shouldn’t be hanging out together so that comes though in our tunes I think. I don’t think we fit any molds right now or at least not what we thought we did in the first place.
So to capture the depth of the Edmonton scene maybe.
M: Yeah, well the thing with Edmonton is …
You want to appeal to more people. Is it almost a unity band in some ways?
M: In a lot of ways that is kind of what the Edmonton scene is or at least it was for me growing up. It was a big enough city where people were influenced by any genre that was out there that existed. It was small enough where they couldn’t really form into their own little cliques. You had shows with bands from everywhere playing so being a kid it all just melted into your mind and when you get in your own band you want to have a song like this and you also want to have a song like this and you end up with a band where people ask you what you sound like and you are tongue tied.
There is too much to talk about.
Taras: I was going to ask you what you sound like? To me you sound like NEW TOWN ANIMALS mixed with WEDNESDAY NIGHT HEROES mixed with TRANZMITORS, but mostly you sound like LET’s DANCE except for when you are doing your SWEET cover because then you sound like SWEET.
M: We also do a SLADE cover but I don’t think we sound like either.
The name LET’S DANCE suggests ah everybody got involved and get in the pit and sing along and whatever.
B: LET’S DANCE is a collective of bring people together to have a good time and it doesn’t really matter if your into indie rock, thrash or whatever. The name itself is fun and we are out there to have a good time. It is like break down the borders of being too serious. Just have a good time and put your heart into it.
LET’S DANCE also has the connotation of the DAVID BOWIE song.
M: That’s wrong.
B: We get that every time.
M: Bowie ripped us off and we have pending lawsuits. He hopped in his Delorean after he saw us and really fucked us over. We are pissed.
In a way thought by taking LET’S DANCE as the name you can be a fuck you to Bowie because if someone comes out expecting a Bowie tribute and they get this high energy hardcore punk band ….
B: It is a kind of kick in the balls if you think it is a Bowie cover band.
M: He has some balls though. He could handle some swift kicks.
Taras broached this question. Who do you consider influences on the band? He had a good idea but I want to hear from you, who do you consider influences on the band? Who do you draw from?
M: It is difficult. If you were to lay the songs out in the way that they were written in the order they were written you could start lining up who they are.
That’s okay. Tell us about those periods.
M: The older songs had more of a power pop new wave-esque and now some of the songs have a post punk kind of influence. At the same time it is still hard to say that because we are not ever listening to the same thing so that is a brutal answer to that question.
B: I will say that I take a lot of singing style from NEWTOWN NEUROTICS and a lot also from DEVO. We did a DEVO cover set for Hallowe’en and I think that changed a lot of the way we played our songs.
M: I mostly take my influence from HARLEQUIN and KICK AXE.
T: I think the other thing is that since we all listen to such different music and we are all pitching in on writing songs it all kind of ….
M: It morphs. If you have ever read an anamorphs book that’s what it is like. It is kind of like what we are like.
T: Anamorphs mixed with Transformers.
M: Mostly just anamorphs.
If you had to limit your record collection to five punk releases what would they be as a band?
M: Yikes. As a band.
So you are going on tour and you have to take five releases what would they be?
B: WIRE “Pink Flag”.
M: I would throw in NAKED RAYGUN’s “Understand”.
T: I would take “Vicious Circle” by the ZERO BOYS.
B: Byron would take Dane Cook.
By: Alice Coops baby.
What about one together?
T: We could argue about that all day.
B: Mixed tape. That’s how we roll.
T: Not to mention that we only have a tape player in the van.
B: And it’s got a little bug entrapped. He is our little DJ.
You didn’t mention anything about new wave and yet there is a new wave influence on the band. Even the song titles have a throwback to that whole scene. Even the pop sensibility with how you write sounds a bit like what the TRANZMITORS are doing. That kind of nostalgic take on new wave. Does new wave influence you guys at all?
B: I am a huge new wave fan as far as having an ADAM AND THE ANTS tattoo.
You do?
B: I do. It’s off of a little 7”.
M: We listen to the VAPORS a lot for inspiration. It’s the feeling I get. They way they play their songs is something we try and fail at achieving. We try. It’s a College try.
You also do a cover of “Bodies” on the ep.
M: We do. That was kind of a weird one.
I think you were wearing a SMALL FACES shirt in a picture on that.
M: I was. It really doesn’t fit that much. Well actually it does because a lot of bands that started up in that era were trying to be SMALL FACES.
Yeah Steve Jones was trying to imitate the SMALL FACES when he was playing.
M: It was weird. After the song was recorded and we were waiting for it to come out we spent a lot of time looking at each other going why the hell did we chose that song? It’s a good tune. For me when I saw “Filth and the Fury” when they are playing “Bodies” to those kids that is a fun time. I would love to play that songs to some brats. The kids looked super pumped.
B: It’s a fun song to play.
That was at the miner’s strike up north. I remember that. They started getting into a food fight.
M: They were having a great old time.
Taras: I wanted to ask, yesterday you guys played with TYRANNA, ZRO4, and BOULEVARD TRASH. There was kind of a mixed crowd of multi-generational crowd. You had the older ’77 punkers and you had the younger generation of kids. How do you think that went over for you guys?
M: We like that. We have pretty good luck going on with those kind of shows. We played with TEENAGE HEAD when they came through Edmonton. The old timers came out for that. And they are supportive. They like seeing the influences that they were digging when they were our age and we are still kind of carrying that torch. They appreciate it.
I think they still can’t believe that there are kids who care for that stuff.
Taras: Well you played that SWEET cover.
B: Yeah I saw some heads bob. I saw some hearts melt.
T: Not to mention that our roadie Kale loves cougars. It kind of worked out well for him.
I wanted to ask you about the lyrics. Do you (Ben) write most of the lyrics?
B: Matt and I started taking a lot of the dual writing.
What is the approach to writing lyrics?
B: A lot of the time for me lately it has been it is about a lot of insecurities and dealing with life as far as any young adult would go. Poverty stricken western Canada stuff. I think a lot of that is overtaking our lyrics.
M: It can be anything. We are not trying to say we need to keep this motif with the way the band goes. It is just what you are feeling on that day. If you get a riff. I have been wanting to write about this kind of thing. It really doesn’t matter. It could be about anything.
B: It goes from songs like “Sweet Kiss” to songs about overproduction and mass consumption so it is mixed up.
Can you single out a song from a lyrical standpoint and tell me why you like it?
By: I don’t know any of the lyrics.
The drummer always begs out of these questions.
M: He is like rock ‘n roll, part 1.
And I like that part that kicks ass.
T: “Calling All Cars” because I hate the O.P.P. and the E.P.D.
M: Come on. We are in their territory. They have given us a couple of tickets. Actually that is one thing I would like to say on the way. We woke up real damn early and went an put money in the meter and there is a ticket in our window right outside where our little stub is. Godammit. Like you couldn’t see it inside our windshield. I think he was wearing too dark of shades. That really cheese me off. But back to the original question. I would think “Agony” by NEWTOWN NEUROTICS.
No. I mean one of your songs. It’s a smaller collection of songs. It should be easier to pick from.
M: I think our new tune. The newest one that we have put together. It kind of deals with ….. There is a lyric that says “More wants less needs” and it is just about people having a warped sense of what they need in life. Maybe too many material things and they don’t really have perspective on what they are working for. It might be a little heavier than we like to get most of the time.
B: I would say a song that we didn’t actually record but it is on our demo and upcoming release. I would say “Out on Top”. It deals with a lot of insecurities and looking around and knowing that your friends are still around. I am trying to think of a nice little lyric for that. “Take the words and twist them through my mind. Innocent phrase that poisons me in time.” That is a lyric that I could take and turn it into a negative thought when really it shouldn’t be a negative thought. It is just over thinking. That song helps me deal a lot with that. I say that song is a good lyrical standpoint for me.
How long ago did you record the demo?
M: Too long. Listen up labels. It was February or March of this year. No it might have been a Jan-Feb kind of time.
So really that is only a couple of months ago.
B: Yeah but even in that it seems like forever.
M: When we did our first 7” I had just joined the band and Ben was about to take off to do a tour with A GLOBAL THREAT and we were like if we record before he leaves while he is gone hopefully we can get this into production and when he comes back maybe we can hit the road and get it out to some people. That ended up coming out almost a year after we recorded it. We are kind of getting used to it.
You are talking about January or February of 2007. Where did you record it? Is there a good place in Edmonton to do that?
M: Yeah. We have been recording with Nick Kozub. He is of some Edmonton fame. He used to be in the CLEATS were a band we listened to growing up.
B: A huge inspiration.
Taras: And the SYSTEMATICS.
M: Of course. Just jump right in there Taras. He is really good. We have a good time recording with him. He is really into letting us try things. Maybe things that we probably shouldn’t be trying. But he doesn’t make us feel like idiots. It’s been fun. He works out of his parent’s basement. They have a studio set up. His dad is Wilf Kozub and he is been an Edmonton name for a long time.
Taras: Wilfred man and the Grown Men.
B: Thunder on the Tundra.
M: It’s good. We have a really good vibe there. We have a lot of fun and he doesn’t kill us too bad on the dollars and cents menu. I hate that menu.
The ep how long ago was that recorded? Was that in the same session or something else?
M: That was before. That was June of 2007.
And how did the ep come about on Longshot? How did that work out?
B: With Thomas and I being in DANCEFLOOR DISASTERS we had the connection through Mike and we came to him and said we needed to get this 7” out and he knew that he could help us out. I was pretty stoked with working with him before and with the packaging he really came through.
Did he just move too to complicate things?
B: Yeah that was the thing. As things started coming about and getting moving he started moving to San Francisco.
What’s the thing with Pirates Press?
M: That’s why he moved to San Francisco to work there. He really helped us out because he was able to get us some pretty good deals as far as that kind of stuff.
B: He gave us heads up on cool stuff to put in it.
M: They have been putting a lot of cool stuff in his releases as of late.
It’s a printing press?
M: Yeah but they go to this guy in the Czech Republic for their vinyl and from what I have heard he is a master vinyl man.
B: A bit of a sensei.
Alright. You were mentioning something about a second ep.
B: That is pretty much our demo that we are trying to force out there.
So there is not another recording.
B: No. That’s what we got so far.
T: We are hoping it will come out on a 10”.
By: What about that split 7”?
B: We do have a split 7” coming out. We took a hit single off that recording that we did and then we took a B-side that we won’t release later on.
So what songs are they going to be?
B: It’s going to be “Crazy” and “Sweet Kiss”. It will be with this band called AVENUE ROSE. They are from Tacoma and they seem to be pretty cool dudes so. They came to us asking us to do a split. We were like let’s do this. Why not?
M: We answered that damn call.
B: We put our shoes on the table and went to work.
Explain to us the cover artwork.
M: It is really kind of non-sensical.
Well it basically sums up Alberta.
M: It didn’t really have anything to do with the songs.
Explain it though because we are on radio.
M: There is an oil rig and it is spewing it’s oil. It is blasting it’s black load.
Is that what a “Summer Breeze” is like in Edmonton?
M: That is pretty much what it came down to. You can’t escape it. If you live in Alberta they are not kidding when they say you are in oil country. It is all around and it really blows. It gets you down when you realize what they are really doing. It sucks. We all grew up there and we might not be there if it wasn’t there, but we are all there and I don’t think any of us are trying to escape yet. So we just try and reflect where we are coming from.
T: It kind of goes with the “Crude city” thing.
M: That’s right. The picture on the insert was kind of a tribute shot to an Edmonton band from way back called the MALIBU KENS and they had a song called “Crude City”. I guess it does tie in.
B: It totally ties in. You forgot.
M: It’s been a long time.
What is the Edmonton scene like at the moment?
T: Pretty happening.
M: It has some new hope. For the last four or five years it has been in a bit of a slump. Before that it was deemed awesome. Hall shows were always around. There was tons of bands, good venues, and then all of a sudden, all at the same time some bands broke up and then hall shows were no more so there wasn’t that continuance of a young scene coming up.
So the bottom fell out almost.
M: And then any of the decent bar venues started closing down. There was a little stint there where everyone is just doing what they could. We started playing shows in skate parks or wherever you could. That was cool but that kind of fizzled out too. There was a definite slump. Right now it seems like it is getting better. Shows seem a lot more fun these days.
B: There is a lot more support by kids coming out and people actually having fun at shows instead of crossing their arms.
T: There are a lot of cool bands coming out of Edmonton right now.
Who would you recommend that people try and find out about?
T: Me and Byron are in a thrashy metal band called TARAN TUA and we play with bands like THRASHTIC FIBROSIS lots.
B: The END CREDITS are a pretty cool band for post punk. There is lots of different kinds of genres.
M: And the HEROES have had some making it ability. They have had some success for getting on to a good label. That is starting to help the scene a bit in Edmonton and is showing kids. Everyone in Edmonton knows how hard those dudes have been working. They have been around for a long time and they have really stayed true and it is good for younger kids to see that these guys are making it to where I want to be or whatever.
There is a bit of a WEDNESDAY NIGHT HEROES connection. Can you tell me what that is?
M: Ben and I live with Luke and Graeme of WEDNESDAY NIGHT HEROES.
Taras: In the house of Pus Pus.
M: Pus Pus was a cat that came to our house because somebody was doing her floors and then when her floors were done Pus Pus stayed at our house. I have woken up to her claws stuck in my baby toe numerous times and it really sucks.
Taras: Do you ever wake up with her on your chest staring at you?
M: I have and it is terrifying. I see her looking into my room from her litterbox.
B: We have a subletter right now and he tried picking her up and Pus Pus ended up just gouging his face.
M: She’s a little hell raiser but she is a sweetheart and in her old age she is starting to give up on destroying our bodies.
B: So the connection would be household and we have been playing shows together for years as far as all of our bands. Those dudes have always been super rad to us and the whole scene so.
M: And my family and the McKinnons who are the brothers we live with, we all went to the same French Immersion Elementary Junior High in Edmonton that looking back now and you look at the scene and you go there and you think this is the butthole of the world and all of a sudden you realize how many members of really awesome Edmonton bands came from this little turd school by Stony Plain Road. This is a derelict area with lots of love shops and pawn shops. Members from the CLEATS were there and the HEROES and numerous others so I have always kind of known those guys. They have always been a real big inspiration on me.
You guys are tour Canada right now.
B: We are going to Halifax and back.
What inspired you to tour Canada? Not many people do it which is why I ask.
M: We wanted to see how much money we could spend on gas between each show. It was a challenge. We are up to it. Our line of credit is up to it.
Taras: You just started your tour but what has been the highlight so far.
M: Getting spooked in Sudbury.
What happened?
M: We stayed at the Townhouse Tavern. We stayed in the basement. I’m sure lots of people know what we are talking about. We got a little spooked and then we tried scaring each other more and doing these double crosses. It just ended up in mass chaos and hysteria. We didn’t sleep very well. We pushed the beds together. I would say the real highlight was the show last night. That was really fun for us. We appreciate being able to hop on a real quality show. Especially in a city like Toronto. To come this far and not having really been here before it was lucky for us.
B: Kind of to re-direct the question as to why we are forced to tour it was a lot to do with gas prices rising so high that pretty soon bands won’t be able to tour. We really wanted to get out there before there was no option. We wanted a little vacation. To have a good time with our bros so it is just a serious bro-fest.
M: We are going to be touring in a bio-diesel hovercraft going around North America.
What are the band’s plans for the next little while?
By: Taking it easy.
B: We have this split 7” coming out. We are still trying to find a label. If you are reading this pick up the 7” and check it out. Just contact us it will be a good time. We want to get the next record out and then have plans to write more songs and record further and hopefully crawl our way out of debt and do some kind of a full length over the winter would be ideal but you never know how those things are going to go.
How can people get in touch with you?
M: Look up our myspace site at LETS DANCE Edmonton you will find us. We are the only four goofy dudes with that name.
Any last comments?
M: It was awesome to come out to Toronto and experience some stuff like this. We had a lot of fun and hopefully our van doesn’t break down in Buttville, nowhere. We don’t have a spare tire.
T: If you see us hitchhiking on the side of the road, pick us up.
The red velvet in the van will be your clue.

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