Interview: Lifestory: Monologue

SCENEFEST: Lifestory:Monologue @ Cache, 06-26-11

At S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival, I had the opportunity to sit down with 5/6 members of Lifestory:Monologue. The only missing member happened to be vocalist Richard Nuttall, perhaps saving his voice for their 2 sets (one acoustic, one amplified) later in the day.

The band recently released The Thornberry EP to tide over fans until their full-length is released in the fall – likely September/October. It’s been a few years since they last put something out and they were excited to have something for their fans. Pianist Zac Tenwest says, “We wanted to release this and just play some shows around and just kinda keep our presence until we do the full length and tour hard on that.”

But since it’s been a few years, their music has certainly evolved. Zac initially says, “It’s come from acid trip, but we didn’t even do drugs. Well, with this release, at least, we’ve cut a lot of the fat that we used to have. We used to go on for minutes on a specific idea. With the help of Kenny Bridges, who produced our record, he kind of helped us get to the point quicker in our music.”

Drummer Brett Banks then adds, “He definitely helped us to become much better songwriters and such better musicians.”

Zac continues, “Yeah, and it worked out well. Our songs are shorter and a lot more chorus-y, like verse-chorus-verse-chorus. I think that allows the fans to connect more easier and sing along. It wasn’t something that we were trying to sell out at all. It was all in our best interest to get to this point, so we’re happy about that.”

Their work with Kenny Bridges is something they all seem to pride themselves on. Earlier in the day, guitarist Jason Gormley got on stage to sing with Bridges’ band Cunter basically improvise a song. Guitarist and newest member Mike Short describes the experience as mindblowing. He gushes, “The greatest human being in the world. One of the most talented, passionate human beings I’ve ever had to work with. He’s one of the reasons why I play music, so it was life-changing.”

Bassist Jay Reid continues, “The crazy part of it is that during our recording, he just had a son. He would be up all night tending to him and recording us all day and he’d be the most energetic person.”

Mike interrupts, “Yeah, the energy! Along with that, he welcomed us into his own home with his infant child.”

Jay then jokes, “Especially with a dangerous man like Mike.”

Jay continues, “It was really just like working with a hero of ours. Red Tree was one of the first albums I ever bought. From Music World for like $8.99.”

Mike then says, “Especially the fact that he cared just as much about this project as we did and to give just as much into it as we did, it’s just surreal.”

The gushing continues when the guys discuss how Bridges has affected their songwriting.

Jay starts, “We realized recently, now that we have some people on board that are managing us, that once an outside perspective comes into the band, they’re like, ‘How do you guys discuss one idea for four hours. Can you just make up your minds?’ and then we’re like, ‘Wait, I guess we did. Have we been doing this for eight years?!’”

Jason then explains that they’ve always each individually write skeletons, each in their own ways, to bring to the group, which is then picked at. He says, “But Kenny kinda came in and took what we were doing and sorta shifted everything around. I feel like working with him really will change the way we write songs or did change the way we worked on those songs and will change in the future. And the fact that he kinda… he would take the songs and there’d be one part and he’d say, ‘Why is this part here? Why are you doing this? This part doesn’t work with the song.’ And then he’d take another part, ‘Okay, this part’s here and this part’s really awesome, why are you not doing this part 3 more times in the song, it’s a great part.’”

Mike continues, “But no matter what, we all have our own input and our own unique individual pieces that we put to the puzzle.”

Jay comments that it can take a long time for 6 people to agree on certain parts. “It’s a battle.”

But the guys have done well for themselves. The packed Cache for their set, and this was easily done without a full-length release in a few years. Some of this can be attributed to the community they’ve built up. Jay says, “We would probably not be a band if it wasn’t for the people that surrounded us when we were starting to play music.”

I figure that in their (approximately) 8-year existence as a band, the guys must have a good drunken story. When I ask, the collective response seemed to be, “One?!”

Jason then offers up a story.

“This was a good number of years ago now, I think maybe it might have been Richard’s 19th birthday or his 20th, so this was 4 or 5 years ago now. And it was on his birthday we played in Belleville, Ontario at this place called The Bohemian. They had about 4 choices of liquor and beer in the whole place. It was kind of this little hole in the wall place – great scene, great show. But you could get Bohemia, this kind of shitty beer they had on tap and for whatever reason, and they had shots of Sambuca. And so all night we were just doing shots of Sambuca and drinking this Bohemia beer. Since it was Richard’s birthday, we like, “Okay, awesome, let’s go to town. Let’s all get wasted.” Our buddy Paul Taylor was doing merch for us that tour. We were driving home to Guelph that night, which is about a 4 or 5 hour drive and he volunteered to be the one to drive home. We all just got plastered.”

Jay interrupts in order to provide an example of just how drunk they were. “Someone smashed the top of my beer off and I continued to drink it with a shattered top.”

Jason continues, “On the way home, we were maybe 20 minutes up the highway out of Belleville and I felt the need to vomit. This is also when we were still driving a minivan, so we had 8 people in a minivan, so I was the one who got the short straw and was sitting on the floor on the way home. So from the floor, I looked up at Paul and said, ‘Paul, I have to throw up. Can we pull over?’ And he turned around and he asked, ‘Is this an emergency?’ And me, not wanting to disturb the driver who had so graciously decided not to drink all night, kind of thought about it and said, “No, no, I can wait until we pull over.’”

Mike then interrupts, “Wait, can we stop for a sec? You’re nice to other people that drive when you guys are drunk? What is this?!”

Jason dismisses him. “You’re in the band, you don’t matter.”

Jason continues again. “So anyway, I said, ‘No, no, I can wait until the next gas station.’ And then about 20 seconds later I said, ‘No, it’s an emergency!’ and just puked all over the van floor. We pulled over. We stopped and got some garbage bags to puke in and water for everyone. We get on the road again and Zac, who was passed out in back seat, proceeded to, in his sleep, vomit.”

Zac then says, “I vomited and I didn’t wanna vomit on myself, so I caught it all, but at this point I was in it to win it, so I just dropped it all over myself.”

Jason continues, “And Richard gave Zac his own sweatshirt to wipe himself off, but this was best part of the story. Zac was in back of the van and we had so much to drink that when Zac puked, Paul’s first reaction from the front seat, he turns around and goes, ‘Is someone drinking again?!’ because all he could smell was liquor in the van.”

This got a good laugh from everyone, but they weren’t done. They proceeded to mention other drunken habits/moments, such as yelling Bon Jovi on the drive home, wrestling (something about “naked elbow drops?!”), and pouring beer on each other. Not to mention Jay supermaning the wheel while someone else was driving and Richard attacking people for the mention a girlfriend’s name in the van.

Zac then says, “We could keep going.”

Jason suggests, “We could write a novel, we’ll put it that way. We’re going to start a coffee table book.”

Jay then says, “It’ll be called ‘Why am I smoking in Tim Hortons?’”

Zac groans, “Oh, that’s another one! We won’t go there.”

As for their shots of choice, Jay, Jason and Brett all agree on Jager, while Zac says tequila is his shot of choice. Mike, on the other hand, is straightedge and picked root beer.

Zac comments, “We’re all really happy he’s straightedge ‘cause he drives.”

Mike then mumbles something about the harassment he’s taken as the driver.

Zac jokes, “That’s why he got in.”

I walked away from the interview laughing at all the great stories and the great relationship the guys seem to have with each other.

Right now you can pick up The Thornberry EP on their Bandcamp page. It’s PWYC, which also means free, if you want it to be. And then in the fall, stay tuned for the release of their full-length. It’ll be worth the wait.

Oh, and by the band shots when you see them live! Do what you can to contribute to more amazing drunken stories.

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Categories: Interviews, S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival 2011


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