The Cheap Speakers – Emerging Artist Spotlight

The Cheap Speakers – Photo: Virginia LeBlanc
CONTEST ALERT: We have 2 passes to the upcoming show at Toronto’s The Horseshoe Tavern. Email us here and put “SPEAKERS” in the subject line – winner notified March 1st. Check out all our other open contests here

February 19 2013 – Very few things are as exciting as finding something new you love. Much like archaeologists that dig to find hidden treasures, we here at T-Mak World really enjoy trying to find new bands that we love. Once we find such bands, we approach our favourites to request interviews for our Emerging Artist Spotlight series. Today we set our focus on a band from Toronto called The Cheap Speakers. All bands we talked to are asked similar questions to each other so we can get to know them better. Some info we got from the band is below:
A staple of the Toronto indie music scene, rock quartet The Cheap Speakers are excited to announce the release of their first full-length album Switches & Levers on March 2. Switches & Levers is a collection of eleven energetic tracks that encompass both the scrappy indie rock and pop sensibilities The Cheap Speakers are known for, and a hard-edged and relentless new intensity.
Here is what they had to say to us:
Hey Cheap Speakers, 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?
THE CHEAP SPEAKERS:  Brennan Gault sings, plays bass, and writes the songs. Natalia Manzocco plays rhythm guitar and sings the songs Brennan doesn’t. Tim Dafoe is our lead guitarist, and David Kochberg plays the drums.

How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?
THE CHEAP SPEAKERS: Brennan and Nat started playing together in 2007 after Nat replied to one of the “musicians wanted” ads on Stillepost (a now-defunct, possibly missed music forum), and the roots of the Speakers quickly formed around a shared love of guitar-pop and Sneaky Dee’s fajitas. A big lineup change a year or so later is when things turned the corner – Tim joined and brought a lot of loud alt-rock influences, we worked hard to hone the new sound, recorded an EP, and started playing bigger shows. David came on after that — his playing, influences, and backing vocals were a perfect fit.

Who are some of your musical influences?
THE CHEAP SPEAKERS: Everyone in the band has wildly different musical heroes, so you’ll
hear bits of everything. The big ones would be The Who, Cheap Trick, Sloan (and all of their early-90s Halifax contemporaries), The Cars, Of Montreal, Bob Mould, Blur, Big Star, Nada Surf, Neil Young, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Pulp.

So based on the above how would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?
THE CHEAP SPEAKERS:  Propulsive Rickenbacker bass lines, garage-rock solos, big Pete Townshend chords, guy-girl harmonies that range from tender to Double Lion Roar. Seriously, do you like guitars? We’ve got lots of those.
Yes we do love guitars! Why should a music fan come and see your show instead of all the other choices available to them on any given night?
THE CHEAP SPEAKERS:  We will leave a pint of flaming blood on that stage.

The Cheap Speakers – Photo: Virginia LeBlanc
What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why?
THE CHEAP SPEAKERS:  Brennan likes “No tools can build, no hands can shape / such a perfect facial escape”, from Claire’s Smile. Nat’s going with “You wear the shoes that the doomsayers use / when they need to deliver bad news” from A Sign That You Don’t Care.

Cool! What does 2013 hold for you?

THE CHEAP SPEAKERS: We’re releasing “Switches & Levers”, our first full-length record, in March — and throwing a huge party at the Horseshoe Tavern on March 2nd with a couple of our favourite bands. After that we play CMW, and set plans in motion to throw all our gear in a van and tour this record. Not literally throw, though. Tube amps, y’know.

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.  
THE CHEAP SPEAKERS:  The dream tour these days would be a bill with Sloan and Hollerado (power-pop party of the decade). As for the time-machine dream tour – we took a vote, and it’s The Who’s “Tommy” tour, 1969-1970.
The Cheap Speakers – Photo: Virginia LeBlanc

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?  

THE CHEAP SPEAKERS: Bandcamp says they sell more records than singles — maybe some of the “albums are dead” talk has more to do with the platforms people choose for getting their  music, and the expectations around them. Bands like The Besnard Lakes or Half Moon Run or Great Lake Swimmers – people want to hear those records front to back. So the album is still with us. A new industry standard format is overdue, though — if the future is all digital, all the time, people will want something better than MP3s. 
At least part of the industry’s future seems to involve the progeny of classic rock heroes touring a lot – maybe we’ll have full-on rock dynasties in another generation, who knows. The economics for new Canadian artists are tough. Seriously, do the math on gas for a “short” 5000 or 8000 kilometre tour – an E-350 ain’t a Prius, and even if you cover it with the door and merch table, you haven’t fed anyone yet.
Where can people get your music/CD, is it being sold anywhere? 

THE CHEAP SPEAKERS: “Switches & Levers” will be on iTunes and Bandcamp, but we’ll also be doing a few things for the shows that will make a digital record more fun to buy in person. If you want something to tide you over until the 2nd, you can download the single from our site, or find our self-titled EP either online at iTunes/Bandcamp or possibly at your friendly local indie record store.

At the end of 2012 we published our picks for top 10 albums of 2012. Lists like those are always a reflection of personal tastes so if you were making the list what are some albums you would you have had on it?
THE CHEAP SPEAKERS: Papermaps’ “Inferior Ghost” EP, Nada Surf’s “The Stars are Indifferent To Astronomy”, Grimes’ “Visions” and Rah Rah’s “The Poet’s Dead”.
Album cover photo by Tim Dafoe

Any closing remarks for our readers?

THE CHEAP SPEAKERS: Support your local music scene. It’s a place so many good things come from, and we’re luckier in Toronto than some realize to have what we have. Go to the shows, support the venues, participate, tip your bartender.

May we humbly add follow T-Mak World on Twitter and Facebook so we can continue to cover bands like The Cheap Speakers. Hey listen thanks so much for the time guys. We hope that our readers can see you live. 
They are playing the CD release show for Switches & Levers at the Horseshoe Tavern on March 2, 2013.
The band’s website is here and as you would expect they are on Twitter and Facebook.
The first single from the new album, “Looking Backwards”, is available for download now at A punchy, careening rocker of a track with a driving pace and supersonic guitar tone, the single is an excellent introduction to the latest evolution of The Cheap Speakers’ dynamic sound.
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