By: Sheena Lyonnais
September 13, 2007
Everything about illScarlett can be traced back to their love of weed. They’re not shy about it either. They smoke it, they sing about it and hell, they even play shows for it.
And where they used to play on average for $50 and several grams, they’ve upped their antes now to, well…nothing? Last month they played a free birthday gig for a bunch of neighbourhood kids who may or may not have designed their Myspace t-shirts.
“I had no idea who these kids were, but they lived in the area. We did an acoustic show and it was awesome. His parents were there, all his friends were there and we’re smoking weed downstairs playing guitar and drinking and it was a lot of fun,” singer Alex Norman said.
Whereas many potheads spend their lives accomplishing absolutely nothing, ill Scarlett has defied all odds by putting out two EPs, two studio albums and several hit songs in less than three years. July’s release All Day With It continues to do well on Canadian college radio with the single “Nothing Special.”
Ironically the song about having no desire to do anything conventional is the very song that has propelled them into perpetual local stardom. Suddenly the Mississauga rockers have a heavily booked schedule and a seemingly higher-then-ever demand for their presence.
The video is still receiving airplay on MuchMusic and the new single for “Life Of A Soldier” will be filmed in Toronto on October 2. The band has also been busy doing campus tours, a few gigs with Billy Talent and are currently touring the northern States and central Canada with bands such as Big D and the Kids Table and Plain White T’s.
“Nothing Special” is actually an older song from a previous independent release that was rerecorded and released for the new album. It was produced by Matthew Wilder, the mastermind behind No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. Although the band loved working with Wilder and is proud of the record, drummer Swavek Piorkowski likes the old version of “Nothing Special” better.
“It was so fresh and raw and the energy of that recording I thought was a lot better,” he said.
“This one still sounds great, it’s a little more polished and it’s bigger. The sounds are great. If we could have the sounds off the new one and combine it with the old, it would be, you know, but it sounds good,” Norman said.
Despite their sensationalized relationship with the aforementioned Mary Jane, the boys of illScarlett have good heads on their shoulders and a heavy hold on their career. They take their music very seriously, and stress the importance of commitment to the success of the band.
In fact, lack of commitment is exactly why they are rumoured to have kicked out former member DJ Pat Kennedy, though they are not willing to say much on the record.
“There were definitely issues with that, but legally we can’t say anything,” said guitarist Will Marr.
Although they seemingly abandoned the DJ aspect of their ska/reggae/rock ensemble, what they did do, however, was offer advice to other bands that are starting out right now:
“Make sure everyone in your band is 100 per cent committed and devoted. Blood pacts are good,” Norman said. “Realize it becomes a job and you have to work.”
illScarlett are playing a ton of shows in Ontario throughout October. Their next Toronto show is October 9 at the Horseshoe Tavern. For more dates and info check out their myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/illscarlett .