June 8 2012 – For the 18th straight year, North By Northeast (NXNE) is happening in Toronto from June 11th to the 17th 2012. NXNE is a music festival, conference, and even a film festival all rolled into one. NXNE is the most anticipated summer music event in Canada and aims to bring exposure to Canadian music of all genres and in general to support the Canadian music industry. Over 650 bands and 40 films converge for 7 days in Toronto and put us on the map in terms of large artistic and creative gatherings. Modeled after the fabled South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, we are very pleased that Toronto is hosting NXNE and we are certain that NXNE will grow in both number of attendees and stature in the music industry (much like Toronto’s International Film Festival has). SXSW is plagued by over-commercialization and unless you’re deeply embedded in the industry you can forget about watching the big names. NXNE will also feature large free performances at Yonge-Dundas Square for four nights with the Flaming Lips being the main attraction on June 16.
After we weeded through all the bands bios found here and listened to their music, we were still left with a long list of bands that we were interested in finding out more about. We approached some of our favourite bands to request interviews for our Emerging Artist Spotlight series. Today we set our focus on a band from Calgary (now Toronto) named The Fast Romantics. All bands we talked to are asked similar questions to each other so we can get to know them better. The description on the Fast Romantics NXNE description reads:
Arcade Fire may be a lazy comparison for these Toronto indie-rockers, but they do have a similarly huge sound and a quintessentially Canadian artsy crossover vibe.
Here is what they had to say to us:
1. Hey Fast Romantics, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Let’s start off with the obligatory introductions. Who’s in the band and what instrument does everyone rock?
Fast Romantics: There’s a lot of us – current lineup has Jeffrey Lewis on bass, Alan Reain on drums, Laurna Germscheid on Keys, Matthew Kliewer on Lead Guitar, Simeon Ross on Guitar, and me, Matthew Angus singin’ and playing guitar. We add extra members a lot, all of that could change the morning after NXNE!
2. How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?
Fast Romantics: We were founded in Calgary in 2007 I think. It’s a blur. A few of us had been in another band before that and when we realized that music kind of stunk, we wanted to make something that didn’t stink. So we found Alan and gave him some drumsticks and came up with a name and started writing actual good music.
3. Who are some of your musical influences?
Fast Romantics: A lot of the stuff that came out of Motown & Atlantic. And british or mod bands like the Beatles, Stones, The Jam, The Clash, Blur, Pulp. And then there’s my crush on Springsteen. And really, indie Canadian music these days is pretty rad in all flavours, I think that our national pride has started to rub off on us the last year or so.
4. We found you as we were searching through the mountain of artists being featured at the 2012 NXNE. Why should a music fan come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them?
Fast Romantics: Because we are the best band at the festival, all other bands pale by comparison. That was a joke. But seriously, we are pretty great, you know? And this lineup is special – we’ve reunited with our original guitar player Matty K, and our longtime keyboard player Laurna, and added Shoot the Image singer Simeon Ross… this is a pretty unique lineup. And we’re playing all new songs from our unreleased record that no one has ever heard before. There’s a buzz in the rehearsal studio right now, these shows are going to be electric. But really this is all subjective, you might think we suck, right? Listen toour new single (link: http://soundcloud.com/fastromantics/funeral-song) and if you like it, come, and introduce yourself after, we ain’t shy.
5. What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why?
Fast Romantics: Probably “I would rather give my heart to the traveling band. I set out to sail the moon, but all that I found was sand.”– that lyric feels good to sing. And as for why, I think these new songs are the first time I’ve written lyrics from my guts instead of trying to be all clever… lines like that feel good to sing because it’s a new kind of honesty for me. Not that I was a bullshit artist before or anything, but I never really sang about myself before now.
6. What does the rest of 2012 and 2013 hold for you?
Fast Romantics: We’re going to finish this record before the end of the year and release it, and 2013 is going to be a year of heavy touring, promoting the new record, and spending our time playing these songs to audiences wherever we can.
7. Imagine that you were asked to be the opener for any band’s world tour (both current and historical). Which band and tour would be your dream opening gig.
Fast Romantics: The Traveling Wilburys, if they’d ever toured. Only ‘cause you get to chill out with 5 legends instead of 1. More bang for your buck.
8. What is the future of the music industry? With the concept of the album and physical CD’s facing extinction, how will we be consuming music in 10 years? Are the economics feasible for emerging artists?
Fast Romantics: The album will never face extinction, I don’t believe it. Refuse to. It’s too sexy a concept to just go away. It’s changing, that’s for sure. We’ll all be consuming music from the cloud for quite some time at this point, until telepathy goes mainstream. Which is fine by me – that means you can deliver your art in any package you want. Single, EP, album, quadruple-album, whatever. Things are open now, we have more control – but you have to work hard and be good. By that token, yeah, I think it’s totally economically feasible, but we have to develop new ways to monetize, that’s all. And rekindle old ways. For example, there’s nothing more rewarding than listening to an album on a record player, and records will never be easy to rip off, they’re too big, you can see them under your shirt.
9. Where can people get your music/CD, is it being sold anywhere?
Fast Romantics: Our first two albums are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and elsewhere, but the new album isn’t out yet. You can buy the first single (Funeral Song) if you want to support us, on iTunes — but I bet you can also find it for free, say, on Soundcloud. Terrible businessmen, we are.
10. At the end of 2011 we did our picks for top 10 albums of 2011. What album do you think we should include in our top 10 albums of 2012 article?
Fast Romantics: The new Leonard Cohen has to be on there. That was a masterpiece, I don’t care if you don’t like his voice or think he’s a downer or whatever – that album was amazing so go back and listen again. Also the new Spiritualized record is an amazing return to form, it sounds great. I bet there’s more but I have a terrible memory.
11. Any closing remarks for our readers?
Fast Romantics: Come to one of our shows, we’ll do it up right and have drinks and be merry. The El Mocambo show is going to be killer, we are playing with friends Jane’s Party and Ascot Royals. And if you’’re out seeing Radiohead or Flaming Lips or other bands on the Saturday night, we’re putting on a special show at 2am at the Horseshoe, so head to the ‘shoe afterwards and party with us, they’re serving booze there until 4am.
Oh, and there’s an extra clever incentive, if you go to http://www.fastromantics.com/nxne – you can find out how to win one of a bunch of all-access NXNE wristbands we’re giving away. That’s the sales pitch. The sale has been pitched. Don’t delay, limited time, yada yada.
Thanks so much to Fast Romantics. We hope that you can see them live. They are playing The El Mocambo on Thursday June 14th at midnight and at The Horseshoe on Saturday June 16th at 2 am for NXNE. The band’s website is here and as you would expect they are on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime check out their video below from YouTube.