October 08, 2008
There are two things that immediately struck me upon watching October Sky at their CD release party at the Rivoli last month. First, they are extremely talented musicians. Their music, even live, is layered with the most eloquent melodies and sounds. Everything sounds practiced and polished, almost too polished, which brings me to observation numero deux.
“In Toronto there are a lot of good bands, but there’s a lot of bullshit bands too. Everyone now is recording their own studio demo and is going everywhere with it. The industry, there’s not a lot of talent. If you put all the bands together, 10 per cent is good music and the rest are not prepared, they’re just bands who start jamming in their basement and want to do a show right there,” said vocalist/guitarist Karl Raymond.
Though all four members are from Montreal, they rented a place in Oshawa a year ago in order to do market research, feeling Montreal was too full of metal-heads and French bands. They felt Toronto, with its established indie scene and plethora of music companies, was the place to be, especially for an Anglophone Montreal band.
Hence why they did two back-to-back CD release parties, the first in Montreal and the second in Toronto. They’re getting ready to promote their first full-length album Hell Isn’t My Home and prepare for their fall tour, an attempted 40 shows in 40 nights tour that kicked off October 1.
“We self-produced the first EP, so we spent more than one year in the studio just to learn all the programs and all this studio stuff: the way you record, the way you put your microphone, it’s like school,” Raymond said. “The second one we built our own studio. To do an album, you need a computer, you need good microphones, and today with plug-ins and stuff that is pretty much it. If you want to put it on a big level, you need money. With the album we were prepared to do something way better. We did it really fast in six weeks. We were rushed because the launch was already planned and we had to finish the album.”
They’ve already shot two music videos in support of the record. The first one “Hit the Ground” hit number four on Montreal’s Musique Plus show, beating Justin Timberlake. Their second one is slated for release when they return from tour in November.
Raymond and drummer Alex Racine have been playing together for eight years, though the band didn’t take form until 2004. Despite their stadium-eyes, the band has remained remarkably independent.
“We self-produced everything, the album, the video. We do the same as a record label would for an artist. We self-produce our shows. Our big shows in Montreal have TVs and stuff,” Raymond said.
“For ‘Hit the Ground’ we hired a full team, a producer, director of photography. A few days after we shot ‘Hell isn’t my Home,’ which we’re still working on,” Raymond said, admitting they’re not intimidated or afraid to look outside themselves. “‘Hit the Ground’ was shot outside during the winter, it was like minus 20 at least. It was windy and it was really hard to do it. It was our first experience in front of the camera. All the team was very professional and the result was amazing. It’s not a commercial video; it’s more artistic. It’s not common to see this in music videos, it’s more like space like the song.”
Though the perfection and artistry is a little much at times, October Sky is a band worth checking out. Check them out at www.myspace.com/octoberskyrock.