Interview: Boys Who Say No

Boys Who Say No

Just after Boys Who Say No loaded in their gear at Sonic Boom for their in-store performance, I met up with the guys at a local restaurant/bar. The location was chosen because, as they told me, they had spent countless nights there in their “teenhood” years.

And that’s sort of when the band started. 3 of 4 members of the band actually went to high school together. Lead singer Luke Correia-Damude tells me their musical connection started when Luke jammed with drummer Frank Cox-O’Connell in 9th grade, playing a few shows here and there.

At this point, keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Mike Lobel interrupts, “What was the name of this band?”

Luke replies, “I don’t want to tell you.”

Mike tries again. “Can I please know the name of this band?”

“No,” Luke refuses again.

After high school, the fellas went on to go to different schools and do different things. Luke formed a band in university, which Mike joined. This band – Civilian – is decidedly bad, according to both Luke and Mike, so Mike and Luke decided to get away from Civilian and do their own thing. They recruited Frank to start Boys Who Say No. Frank then says, “We were playing with another great musician named David Stein at the time and then he moved on and we were fortunate enough to stalk down Antonio [Naranjo].”

These are their humble beginnings.

The band released an EP in 2009 that was well received, but, years later, the band feels that they’ve really honed in on their sound.

Luke says, “I think [the sound has] evolved tremendously. It’s actually become a cohesive thing, whereas that EP was kind of a mixture of things that we had written together and things that maybe I had done acoustically with an accompaniment aspect to it. I think this is a real example of the band as a whole working together and writing together. Everything on this record is a real collaboration, so I think the sound has totally streamlined into what is our sound.”

Frank continues, “This record, I think, really has songs that are played the way they are written, if that makes sense. They sound the way that they were always imagined. They’re not sort of re-workings of folk songs that are ripped apart. Instead, these are songs that are what they are and it’s diverse and it’s a bunch of different things on the record, but each song is really what it wants to be.”

The band brings many different influences, including Frank and Luke’s love of alt-country, as well as Mike’s love of industrial. But the recording process brought out influences the band didn’t love growing up, such as Motown rhythms, according to Frank.

Mike says, “I think we all walk the sort of line of trying to insert our own personal taste into a Boys Who Say No song, but we’re also aware of that line and so we’re also kind of making consolations to let other styles take over a little bit more and it just ends up being like a lot of different things coming together into one sound.”

It is this eclectic sound that Frank says is one of the strengths of the record.

As part of the collaboration, Mike says, “If we’re not all amazed the sound that’s coming out of our instruments together, we’ll say no. We’ll pass on it.”

Luke continues, “I think it’s a very positive thing, but the only casualty is that we’re not very prolific. We don’t have so much material because so much time goes into all four of us kind of getting into this kind of vibe.”

Frank agrees, “We’re four A-types and we sort of work under the premise that the best idea in the room wins, no matter how people are feeling about it, so it does create, you know, it’s a tough room.”

In fact, the band is still pretty tough on the material, as they spent over a year on the album, produced the album themselves and have been anxious to get the record out.

Mike says, “This record is a snapshot in time and we’ll never feel the same way about the songs as we did when we wrote them and those feelings about our past material changes all the time. Sometimes you can find a reconnection to the material that you had written years ago because you can see it from a different point of view, you can see it from an audience point of view or a fan point of view.”

Antonio continues, “It’s also just that as time goes on, you’re so attached to this material. It’s so hard to be objective with the material. You’re so involved in it. But I think over time as you play these songs more and there’s more of a distance between the time we’re making a record and the time we’re playing the songs that love will come back. You start to enjoy them more as a listener.”

“And if it doesn’t come back, so be it. It’s not a perfect process. It’s not a perfect art,” Mike comments.

The band seems to treat everything as a learning process, even their live show. Mike says, “I think we’re starting to think about the live show a little bit more now, especially because we have a record and we know that there’s a difference between listening the songs on your headphones and seeing a band in front of you playing. They’ve come for something else.”

Antonio elaborates, “You don’t want to be a band that ends up sounding like the record. You want to find a nice marriage between a live experience that’s very energetic and captivating, that really brings people in and it’s an experience that everyone in the room experiences together, but, at the same time, it is true to what we set out to create sonically when making this record. And I think that’s a process.”

Luke then clarifies, “Needless to say, we definitely bring it in the live show. We’re not learning how to do that. The energy is there. If anything, it’s learning how to inject the more earnest songs into a set rather than doing just a complete party set… I guess we’re also hoping to be getting to place in our career where we are able to play those slower songs and have an audience that wants to hear those slower songs. It’s all a process.”

Knowing a little bit more about the band’s insight into their recording process, live show, and their constant learning, I wonder what the band has in their future.

According to Mike, their future entails “fame, fortune and world domination.”

Luke laughs, “That’s the long game. The short game is we’re playing in Guelph on March 10th and…”

Mike interrupts, “That’s really short game… wow. Think big, man. Think big.”

As it turns out, the band will be supporting Brooklyn’s Japanther in the spring for a number of US dates, as while as some Canadian dates. Luke tells me he’s looking forward to these shows calling Japanther’s show “the best live show ever.”

After that month, the band hopes to continue to tour and play more shows. Luke says they’re “just excited to not be thinking about this record and thinking about playing live again and playing for people.”

This happens to be an excellent segue into a drunken story, as it’s tied to touring and their time at SXSW in 2010.

Mike tells the story. “We found a place on Craigslist to stay and it turned out it was this really, really cool resort-style gated community specifically for studying artists, student artists. So we were there, we were hanging out with a few friends in town and we got really, really trashed. We had seen during the day they had a swimming pool and a hot tub, as well…”

Mike is interrupted because Luke and Antonio are trying to figure out the name of the grounds custodian for the complex with the locked swimming pool and hot tub. It’s either Jebediah or Jedediah.

Mike continues to explain that the band and their group of friends headed over to the swimming pool and hot tub area and snuck in, very trashed, only to find out the hot tub wasn’t working. It was freezing and they couldn’t seem to figure out how to fix it. This is when Jebediah/Jedediah finds them, but he lets them stay, only asking them not to tell his boss. But since the hot tub wasn’t working and he couldn’t get it to work either, he offers to let them into the locked games room with pool tables, table tennis, air hockey, etc. Their only instructions seemed to be to not tell the boss and to put the place back as they found it. They agree and he lets them in and turns off the alarm. This is when the story really starts to get interesting.

Mike presses on. “So we’re in there, we’re partying and getting progressively more and more wasted. And after about half an hour, basically someone’s like, ‘Stop where you are!’ We all turn around to see in the doorway this… cop, rent-a-cop? We don’t know. We’re not from Austin. He had a gun on his hip. He was fully uniformed and everything. He’s like, ‘What the hell are you guys doing in here?’ We said, ‘We just found it unlocked. We just came in. We don’t know.’”

At this point, they’re trying to avoid selling out Jebediah/Jedediah.

The cop or rent-a-cop then tells them the cops are on the way. The band offers to leave, but he won’t let them. Mike says, “The girls, they started to fake cry, put on the waterworks, anything to get out of this situation, which is starting to look more and more dire by the second because we’re tourists in a strange land.”

Luke interrupts, “We’re like, ‘Come on, seriously dude. This is a total misunderstanding.’ And then…”

Now Mike excitedly interrupts. “The guy, Jedediah, he jumps out of the doorway behind the rent-a-cop laughing, pissing, rolling around on the floor, pointing at us going, ‘Ha! I fucking got you! I got you!’ He actually came out and I think the first thing he yelled out was, ‘You got punked!’”

As everyone is laughing, Antonio finishes the story. “Then he let us stay up there and he and his cop buddy partied with us for the rest of the night. It was ridiculous.”

Luke then says, “The moral is you should still always be weary of police.”

Mike corrects him. “The moral is ‘do everything the same.’”

After sharing this hilarious story, we all decide it’s a good time for shots. The guys debate on shots of choice, but they all agree on tequila.

The witty fellas take their banter to the stage, which was proven at their in-store performance just a short while later. If you missed the set, you have a chance to see them at their album release show on February 24th at Steamwhistle Brewery. The album, Contingencies, will be released on February 21st. Check them out (and buy them a shot)!


Categories: Interviews


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