By Jason Daniel Baker
January 4, 2008
Your typical punk performers do not usually consider themselves to be guardians or curators of a proud tradition. Yet the good ones often very much are and do not see that as being contradictory to the non-conformist tradition of punk. The musical form that the Black Rainbows embrace is paid a certain unique kind of reverence by them for the simple reason that they like it enough where they don’t want to play a different form and want to do right by the form they have chosen. It is a matter of respect and emulation of the visionary performers that pioneered the genre whom they idolize.
When I say this friendly, unassuming, self-defined "neighbourhood garage band" from Toronto by way of Maple plays old school punk it really is old school. It is aggressive, fast, hard, with stripped-down instrumentation and occasionally highly distorted power chords. They are not a jazz band. That which is dismissed as repetitive or cliche in other musical forms can actually be characterised as "chord-consistency" in punk. A chorus may, and often does, include an addictive catchphrase with the type of biting humour these particular guys (Michael Anichini-Guitar, vocals, Renato Carvalho Bass, vocals, Fortunato Cioffi-Guitar, vocals, and Sergio Santolani-Drums) are renowned/notorious for.
These aspects of their music are ever present but they don’t meticulously check each of them off like a shopping list when composing. It all comes out through long improvisation and reinterpretation not only of their own compositions but of works by their influences which include the Ramones, the Pixies, the Unicorns, the Libertines and Aventura among others. It can heard on tracks of theirs such as K-Hole, Bareback and Pasties.
The Black Rainbows don’t water down and blend their sound in attempts at stylised mainstream pop crossover appeal. They are also not at all looking to have their range expanded by a bubblegum pop hack producer. Currently they are seeking an industry professional who will appreciate the appeal of their sound and honor their credo as much as they do in helping them to record a full-length album.
Creating their rough-edged, back to basics, revivalist interpretation of punk material was hard work however it may sound, which they are understandably not eager to see disappear in the studio as has happened to so many other acts. The humanity and sincerity that bleeds through with such an approach, is cherished by them and their local following. The natural feel is important and it is often the first thing that gets lost by clueless recording engineers.
If there is one thing that will strike you about seeing the Black Rainbows play live it is that while they do not sound over-rehearsed as some bands do they still play uncommonly well together. It should not be a delicate balance but it can be. That is one thing, which separates the pros from the lightweights on the Toronto scene. Some local bands can’t agree on something as fundamental as their setlist or even the key it is supposed to be played in. The only thing entertaining about acts like those is the kind of amusement you can get in seeing them argue with their hands over their microphones on stage settling something they should have covered in rehearsal or at very least in the van on the way to the gig.
For more information on The Black Rainbows visit: http://www.myspace.com/blackrainbowsband