September 23 2014 – Very few things are as exciting as finding something new you love. Much like archeologists 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 favorites to request interviews for our Emerging Artist Spotlight series where we have featured over 100 artists so far. Today we set our focus on a band from Toronto named Return For Refund. All bands we talked to are asked similar questions to each other so we can get to know them better. The description on Return For Refund’s website reads.
Eager to establish themselves in the music scene with the creation of their first EP, the Toronto based band Return For Refund defines New Grunge through their contagious, riff driven sound. With edginess and raw vocal grit, Return For Refund blends elements of Rock, Punk, Metal, Funk and Blues in harmony.
Gaining inspiration from bands such as Black Sabbath, Nirvana, and Soundgarden, Return For Refund aims to bring New Grunge to the public – an emerging genre still in its infancy.
Comprised of three musicians with very different backgrounds and tastes, each member brings their own unique flair to the group. Frontman Drew Clementino, the riff crafter and wordsmith, is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player. Immediately after picking up the guitar at twelve years old, Drew wrote his first song. “It was always about developing my own sound and playing in a band. That’s how I learned. I made a very conscious effort when I was learning not to focus on learning other peoples’ music” says Clementino.
As the band’s hell raiser and guitar shredder, Sasha Molotkow adds a technical touch to each song. When listening to their music, you can hear the intricate and technical instrumentation he brings with his fast, crazy shredding. He provides the band their metal-type edge. As a lover of funk, reggae and anything with a good strong beat, Karlis Hawkins is the band’s instigator of funk and flow. His drumming style perfectly compliments Clementino’s beat oriented guitar riffs.
Formed in 2013, the band was created after Drew left the army to pursue his musical ambitions. During his seven years in the military, he always found himself writing songs and bringing his guitar no matter where he went all over the world. After auditioning for a few bands that didn’t fit his sound, Clementino tried out for a cover band where he felt an instant chemistry with their guitar player, Sasha. Later that night, he went to an open mic and coincidentally came across that same guitarist. “We ended up playing a bunch of Blues songs like Mustang Sally and Red House. He played guitar and I sang. We just immediately hit it off,” says Clementino.
Clementino joined the band and the chemistry between him and Molotkow grew. Soon, they felt that they were moving in a different direction from the others and left. Serendipitously after leaving, Karlis, Molotkow’s high school band’s drummer, returned to Toronto after deciding he wasn’t going back to school in Halifax. With a lead vocalist, guitarists and drummer, Return For Refund was born.
Rooted from the band’s personal experiences, the name “Return For Refund” has developed a meaning all its own. Reflecting on his own life, Clementino says “I’ve identified the name with my own return from the military. I wasn’t happy with the things I was doing and the person I became. I’m back and I’m asking for my refund from the lies they sold me; I want my money back.”
With the completion of their first EP, Return For Refund strives to bring a new and compelling sound to the Rock scene.
Here is what they had to say to us:
Hey RETURN FOR REFUND, 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?
RETURN FOR REFUND:
Drew Clementino – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Sasha Molotkow – Backing Vocals, Guitar
Karlis Hawkins – Backing Vocals, Drums
How about the history of the band, when did you get started and how did it happen?
RETURN FOR REFUND: The band really started in stages. I (Drew) had just moved back to Toronto after being in the army for 7 years and started looking for like minded musicians. I met Sasha in an audition for a cover band. We did a couple gigs and it was cool, but after Sasha and I started working on some songs together, we knew we had to start something new. At about the same time, Karlis had just come back to Toronto from Halifax and was looking for a band. Sasha, knowing Karlis from High School, messaged him and we met up for the first time to jam. The chemistry was instantaneous. It wasn’t a question of whether we should jam again, but when.
Who are some of your musical influences?
RETURN FOR REFUND: There are so many and each of us draw influences from so many places. Some big ones are Soundgarden, Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Led Zepplin, and the Beatles. You can’t always hear them in our music, but all those bands have definitely affected the way we all think and feel about music.
So based on the above how would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?
RETURN FOR REFUND: We’re riff driven, beat heavy, grunge with in your face vocals and catchy hooks.
Tell us the coolest venues you like to play in Toronto?
RETURN FOR REFUND: We‘ve played the Horseshoe Tavern twice and loved it both times. The sound is phenomenal and the staff there are top notch, not to mention that the stage is huge. I (Drew) love to move around on stage. At the ‘Shoe I feel like I can really let loose and have a great time up there. We’re also stoked to play the Bovine Sex Club. We have our EP release there on September 20th and we’re returning as part of Indie Week on the 16th of October. That place just has the coolest vibe. It’s the kind of place where how you dress, what music you like, or any other minor details, just don’t matter. As long as you have an open attitude and want to have a fun time, the Bovine is the place to have it. We strive to be the exact same kind of band.
What is your favorite single line of lyrics the band has written and why?
RETURN FOR REFUND: “When the fear fell dead I focused on the prize” from “The Fields” is my favourite lyric. Of all our lyrics, I think it says the most. So many of our decisions are driven by fear and not actual desire or reason. We stay in jobs we hate, relationships that are unfulfilling, stay closed off from engaging our fellow man, and stop ourselves from really living the lives we dream of all because fear of the consequences cripples us. I used to be really guilty of that. I’ve done so many horrible things and missed out on so many opportunities because fear controlled my decision making. We always have “reasons” to justify our fears. But they are all bullshit. When I realized this and really fought to move past my fears my whole world opened up. Who cares about the consequences? Who gives a shit about what people think? No matter what we do, we all end up in the same place anyway.
What does the rest of 2014 hold for you ideally as musicians?
RETURN FOR REFUND: We want to play as many shows to as many people as possible. For us, that’s where the payoff lies. That feeling you get when you’re on stage is unlike anything else out there. It’s like those moments when you really find yourself, authentically and honestly, and everyone around you can feel it. Then there’s the added bonus of getting to share it with a whole bunch of people simultaneously. Right now, being the fledgling band that we are, a lot of venues outside of Toronto are hesitant to take a chance on us. We’d love for those doors to open with this EP. We put a lot of work into it in the hope that people would understand just how much love and commitment we put into our music. If we had our way, we’d be playing every weekend to venues as far as the road can take us.
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 – one historical and one current.
RETURN FOR REFUND: Historically, we’d love to tour with Black Sabbath when they were still on their first few albums. Just the opportunity to be in the same building as those guys every night during their prime would have been mind blowing. There was just so much talent in that band and they fit together perfectly. It was that rare combo of four guys that would have all been amazing on their own but we’re able to do something beyond themselves when put together. I’m not sure if we’d be able to keep up with Ozzy after the gigs, but we’d sure as hell do our best. Currently, I’d have to say Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homme and the band just seem like really awesome, no bullshit, down to earth guys. Not to mention that they are one of the best acts touring right now. Their musicianship is phenomenal, their songs are bold and compelling, and, like Sabbath, we’d be happy to just be in the same building as them night after night.
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?
RETURN FOR REFUND: Personally, I see the future of the music industry in live performance. Now that we’ve bitten the apple of digital music there’s no going back. Maybe that’s a good thing, too. I think for a while the industry may have become a bit gluttonous on massive profits they were pulling in. You hear about some of some of the excesses of the Seventies and Eighties and I can’t see how all that waste made the music any better. One thing that can never be pirated is the experience of live music. If you look at the history of music, live performances were the only way one could be exposed to music for the longest time. Recorded music is a relatively recent development. I’m glad that artists will have to stand behind their work and deliver it directly to the people who love it. I feel the fans deserve that much. If artists love what they do and put on great performances night after night, the money will come. It may not be bucket loads, but who cares? The payoff of doing something as profound as performing has a value all its own. I’m not really sure how people will be consuming music. That’s more a question for engineers and those developing the technologies. One thing I hope will disappear are headphones. Headphones use music to isolate and distance people from each other. They help incubate fear and distaste for our fellow man. To me, that’s exact opposite of the function music is meant to serve. Music is a language that is supposed to unite us, not pull us apart. As for the economics for emerging artists…we’ll, it’s tight. Everyone knows that. I see it as a battle of attrition. Those people who really love music, will put up with the BS. Anyone doing this just for the cash won’t make it past the front gate, nor should they.
Where can people purchase or listen to your music?
RETURN FOR REFUND: People can visit www.returnforrefund.com to stream songs from our latest EP. If they like it, there are a couple ways to hear more. Firstly, I’d invite people to come see us play live. If they want a CD to take home, we always have them at our gigs. Secondly, as of September 20, our EP will be available on iTunes and all the other major online music retailers. We’re also going to setup a way for people to order physical CDs directly from us on our website as well. When in doubt www.returnforrefund.com is where any info about the band and our music can be found.
At the end of 2013 we published our picks for top 10 albums of 2013 (can check out our picks on the link). Lists like those are always a reflection of personal tastes so take a look at our pics and tell us if you were making the list what are some albums you would you have had on it?
RETURN FOR REFUND: I would definitely keep “Like Clockwork” by Queens of the Stone Age on there. That album completely blows my mind. Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” would be on there too. Their use of live instrumentation on the album gave it such a rich tonal quality that so much music in the electronic genres are lacking. “AM” by Arctic Monkeys is definitely on the top of my list as well. Their single note guitar melodies are just so compelling and they really know how to build moods with their harmonies.
Any closing remarks for our readers?
RETURN FOR REFUND: We’d just like to thank them for taking the time to learn more about us. We give everything we have into making our music. Just having people out there giving a shit about what we love doing is an amazing gift. We don’t take that for granted for a second.
Thanks so much to RETURN FOR REFUND. We hope that you can see them live. They are playing September 20th at The Bovine Sex Club @ 12:15 in Toronto, Oct 11 in London @ The Blackshire Pub, and again on Oct 16th at the Bovine Sex Club @ 8:30 as part of Indie Week.Article – Terry Makedon T-Mak World: Toronto’s Site for Music, Movies and Culture www.tmakworld.com | Twitter | Facebook Get the T-Mak World Toolbar below to get all the info you need