Shortwave: kind, handsome and good musicians

Shortwave Live By: Sheena Lyonnais
May 22, 2008
Shortwave have been a standout part of the indie scene for years. The imagery and prose that laces their music continues to encapsulate the brilliance of this local rock group EP after EP.  Toronto Music Scene had the privilege of talking with vocalist Ryan Johnson, drummer Devin Jannetta, guitarist Sager Johnson, bassist Nic Oliverio and organist Cary Parker at their Clinton’s gig earlier this month about their upcoming album as well as what’s next for the quintet. 

TMS:  This is the only you’re playing for a while?  It’s the only show listed.
Ryan: It actually is.  We’re in the midst of working on a bunch of new material and trying to take some time off.  We get asked to do shows on a weekly basis and we really dig what the Home Wreckords kids are doing so we thought we’d do this one.
Shortwave Live in TorontoTMS: Didn’t you just put your album out in January?  You want new stuff already?
Ryan: We do.  In fact, the songs we were working on in January, we were working on those throughout the summer.  Since we recording in New York with Malcolm Burn there was a fair amount of lead-up time to actually going down there with him, so by the time we were actually recording with him there were a couple of songs we were excited and interested to record.  As of yesterday, we just put together our FACTOR grant and submitted that. Regardless of the outcome, we’re planning on recording a full-length within ten months is safe to say?
TMS: He wants to work with you again right?
Ryan: He does indeed.  However, there’s a bunch of other people who also want to work with us.
TMS: Yeah I read, David Lowery?
Ryan: David Lowery from Cracker. He is a fan of ours.  He heard our shit and contacted us through Myspace.  We’ve gotten a couple hits and emails from people on Myspace.  Butch Vig, who is the guitar player of Garbage.  He produced Nirvana.  He’s got a studio in Wisconsin and he’s invited us down to record there.  This other dude, Greg Wells, whose also a Canadian, he recently produced Mika, which is an almost album.  He produced him and he produced One Republic.  He heard our shit and he wants to work with us.  He may be slated to mix our next recording, but he would like to record us as well.
TMS: How are you going to choose somebody?
Ryan: Financing.  Malcolm basically invited us down, it was a win-win situation.  He’s got a huge Victorian mansion and he has a studio down there.  It’s a live-in, work-in space.  Basically we just had to get our asses down there and record with him.  A lot of the other guys are interested in giving us a deal, but a deal with someone who records with Mika or whatever is still expensive.  We’ll see.
Shortwave LIVETMS: How is the album doing so far?
Ryan:  It’s doing well.  Our CD release was awesome at the Elmo, he had like 500 people through the door that night.  Our ethos with this EP is to get our music out there.  Everyone who came through the door paid cover and got a copy.  That night 500 CDs, we made a lot of money comparable to a night like this, which won’t be a money-maker.  We’ve been fortunate where about 15 per cent of people at shows like this have been leaving with the CD.  Those are good numbers.
TMS: Tell me a little bit about your recent involvement with War Child.
SW:  We did a benefit concert for War Child.  We were asked if we could come along and help them out for a show.  They’re definitely a worthy cause and they’re really trying to make their mark in Canada.  They’re trying to build their credibility with the music industry as well, so they’re trying to get as many grassroots bands to help them along as well, even though they don’t need our help.  They’re a very successful organization affiliated with a lot of artists, Canadian artists as well.  We’re just lucky to be a part of it.
TMS: Is that something you’d like to continue doing, that kind of work?
SW:  We actually also did a benefit for cystic fibrosis, we know the organizers.  It raised over $5,000.  It was in October at the Elmo.  It’s an annual event we’ve been doing since its inception.  It’s a great cause that’s near and dear to our hearts called Watstock.  We definitely would like to get more involved in doing charity work.  It just makes sense for us to try and help out and to bring our fans out to a good cause.
Toronto Band ShortwaveTMS: So what is your game plan right now then?  You’re not going to do as many shows and just work on recording?
SW: I think our game plan is to get a bunch of our new ideas up and running and then we’re going to head out on the road.  We need to start playing outside of Toronto and shopping the CD around.  We’ve had a lot of interest from bands who want us to tour with them, so we’re going to start selecting who we’re going to head out on the road with.  Like I said before, we get asked to do a lot of shows and it’s a fine line.  We love to play shows, it’s our passion, that’s why we do this but, nowadays you have to pick and choose when you’re going to play and who you’re going to play with.  It’s all about exposure, but it’s also about traction.  One of our ethos is we play with people we like and with good bands and music we like.  We’re trying to foster a music scene ourselves and make that happen and we’ve had great success so far and we’re going to continue following that road.
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