Thursday, February 18, 2010

CMW Preview: Bella Clava (interview, MP3)

Originally hailing from Thunder Bay, ON, Bella Clava have rocked the Toronto scene hard over the last year.  The band brings adds keyboards to a Black Keys-style garge/blues rock sound.

Graciously, they've given us a preview of their forthcoming EP, The Craic: An Ephemeral Record, which was recorded at Steve Albini's (Nirvana's In Utero) studio in Chicago.  Check out "I Forgot My Mantra".

I had a chance to ask the band a few questions about music and CMW.  Here's what they had to say:
T.O. Snob: First off, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.
Caitlin & Steve--We are thrilled to chat with fellow music snobs, especially ones with such great taste!
T.O. Snob:  You’re playing the Horseshoe in Toronto on March 10th as part of Canadian Music Week. I’ve seen you play and you definitely rock, but for people who aren’t familiar with Bella Clava, how would you describe your sound?
Caitlin--Thanks for making us blush. We like to think that our tunes are catchier than the swine flu…a hard rock that even squares can roll to.
Steve—We like to be loud and sound good at the same time. It’s hard to pull off. But, when people start dancing like it’s nobody’s business, we know we’re on the right track.
T.O. Snob:  What inspires a Bella Clava song?
Caitlin--We listen to a lot of music and go to see more bands than we can afford. Because music is and always has been the centre of our lives, we are extremely motivated to write a truly great song that even compares to the music that we love and respect.
Steve—We could be in a certain mood – namely a bad mood. That usually fuels a lot of ideas, as it does with a lot of musicians. Or, songs can come from a jam just as easy.
T.O. Snob:  The band is originally from Thunder Bay. How has the transition to Toronto helped or hurt the music?
Caitlin--Our experience with Toronto has definitely made us more “seasoned” players with sharper tongues and softer lips. Coming from a small, tightly knit community of musicians, we took for granted how difficult it would be to meet people who we relate to. We’ve been bitten by the sometimes hyper-competitive-every-band--for-itself nature of such a big city and then kissed by its anything-is-possible romance. Like most bands trying to get their start in Toronto, we’ve been robbed, ripped-off and lied to by promoters, but also given incredible opportunities by those who believe in what we’re doing. We’ve played with a few different drummers/bass players and learned the lesson that great bands can’t have flakes. We miss the bush party gigs and organic after-hours jams that Thunder Bay is spacious enough to foster, but only in Toronto could I have met my favourite band at a bar and have the opportunity to ask the questions the music magazines never covered (Queens of the Stone Age).
Steve—Moving to Toronto has hurt me, since I used to be able to go in my basement and jam for hours on end until I passed out. Now, I ride the bus for forty-five minutes to turn my amp on for a couple of hours. Obviously, the Toronto scene is a little bit more hustle and bustle than Thunder Bay, but as Bon Scott would say: “It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock and roll”.

T.O. Snob:  Nice work getting the AC/DC in there.  What came first: the band name or the balaclava gimmick?
Caitlin--Where we are from, protective outdoor apparel is not a gimmick, but a necessity. The cold northern wind will rip your face off, and then show it to you. Putting the winter-mask on the mannequin was done in good fun, but it’s always amusing to see the different reactions to it…we often get the “I don’t even wanna ask!!” comment which for some reason makes me feel like a pervert. But it’s not like that…whatever that is.
T.O. Snob: What does a festival like CMW mean to up-and-coming bands? What do you hope to get out of the experience?
Caitlin--CMW is a great opportunity to play for people who are interested in checking out new bands. Festivals are great for people cruising venue-to-venue looking for a good time, you never know who will be there. Last year, Dave Foley saw us play at The ROK Boutique and dug it, which was a huge thrill for me. We were very flattered to be selected among 500 bands to be reviewed by Digital Journal last year in their “Festival Wrap-Up”. Playing the Horseshoe this year to launch CMW is extremely exciting…we love the Horseshoe and it’s an honour to play there during the festival…the true music nuts will be there (especially for our set, haha!)
Steve—I think being in the frame of mind of thinking it’s our first time playing CMW will work in our favor. It’s always good to play a gig like it’s your last. And, you never know who will be at the show that night. Also, just having fun and not trying too hard is key. People know when your flakes (as Caitlin would say) and when your fake. As long as people have fun and dance their asses off, I’ll be happy.
T.O. Snob:  Are there any band’s you’re looking forward to seeing this week?
Caitlin--We saw the band “And So I Watch You From Afar” when we were on tour in Ireland, they played a great set at a cool bar in Limerick. I’d love to see them again, they’re playing an Irish showcase at the Hideout on Thursday. I’m really looking forward to seeing RJD2 again, also Melissa Auf Der Maur…We played a Halloween show with Jojeto, and I want to catch their set too. So many bands…at least playing gets you a festival pass!
Steve--Some of the bands Caitlin listed would be cool. I wouldn’t mind going to see Spookey Ruben, they had a funny video that was in rotation on Much Music - when the station was somewhat cool.

T.O. Snob:  If someone were to look at your CD collection (or iPod playlist) what would they find that would surprise them?
Caitlin --I don’t have an iPod, but if you were to look through my Cds, the oddest fit is definitely Paul Shaffer’s “Coast To Coast”. I picked it up at Sonic Boom for $4.95.
Steve-- Music that would surprise anyone….let’s see……Kenny Rogers on my iPod and as far as Cds go, probably Blue Cheer.
T.O. Snob:  There's nothing wrong with the Kenny.  I make it a point of calling for "The Gambler" or "Lucille" any time I'm in a bar with a cover band. Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us.
Caitlin & Steve--It’s a pleasure, we love your guts!!

CMW performance:
Date: Mar 10th
Time: 11:00pm
Venue: Horseshoe Tavern

Bella Clava's Myspace

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