Call & Response: Oh No Forest Fires

Call & Response: Oh No Forest Fires

Here we go: another year of checking out new music in our unseasonably mild-weathered city!

Are Toronto indie rockers Oh No Forest Fires to blame for the melted snow? I doubt it, but I've heard their energetic performances definitely heat up the rock clubs they've been playing at since forming about a year ago. I'm excited about this band for two reasons: former Most Serene Republic drummer Adam Nimmo (one of the most fun drummers to watch live) and cuddly, Toronto-via-Newfoundland frontman Rajiv Thavanathan (of Five Blank Pages fame).

Oh No Forest Fires light up the Gladstone (a great venue that doesn't attract enough indie rock in my opinion) this Thursday night. I spoke to Rajiv about this new project, the difficult process of naming it, and about being "guitarded".

Keep reading for the complete interview.

blogTO: You took a long time to decide on a band name. What are some names that didn't make the cut and why was Oh No Forest Fires the winner?

Rajiv: Originally, it was going to be "Forest Fires" and our first demo - just guitar and drums - is floating around cyberspace somewhere labeled as "Forest Fires". We were always a little restless with it though, and constantly trying new names to see if they fit. We were very briefly called "You Are Perfect Weather", but obviously that's a terrible name. It was also super tempting to call the band "Finding Nimmo", an idea that I still toy with sometimes. It's not as bad as some other suggestions though, like "Comment Card" (ouch) and - my personal favourite to hate on - "Meat & Cheese". Who would ever pay to see a band called Meat & Cheese? Not me, that's for sure. Anyways, then we were going to be called "Oh No", but there's an awesome rapper in the US with that name. So, being the incredibly creative people we are, we said "why not stick our two favourite names together?" so we got Oh No Forest Fires. We're geniuses like that.

Describe your sound using just one word.

OH MAN! We have a word ready for this question! "Guitarded".

All of you come from other indie bands. What made you focus on this project instead of those other bands?

It wasn't really a conscious decision, like "this is going to be our first priority" kind of thing, and even now, a lot of us are still in more than one band at once, so there'll always be juggling going on. Adam and I had some idle time, so we started a band mostly as an excuse just to hang out. People got added one by one where time allowed, so it was never a matter of focusing on just this project, it was just like "hey if you have time, wanna come do this?" And it ended up being something we love that's fun and interesting to the point that it was worth putting ourselves into.

Do you live downtown or in the suburbs?

Well I live downtown - in the Annex. Shawn doesn't really have a home right now, he moved out of his old place right before going to Germany for a while but he'll probably live downtown too. Adam and Matt both live in Brampton where they were raised, and Brock lives kinda North York-ish. Getting people together for rehearsals is sometimes a pain, but then I think about bands where guys drive in from Barrie, or from Milton to Guelph, and I don't feel so bad.

What do you like best about living downtown?

I think the fact that any night of the week, you can go out and find something really fun to do is my favourite part. Almost every time I go out I meet someone new, someone with a new and different story and I love that. I also love the diversity of food! And the fact that everything I need is close by, and the sheer number of AMAZING shows. I come from a far away place (St. John's) where touring bands never set foot, so for me to see my favourite bands in the whole wide universe playing once or twice a week is pretty stellar.

What is your preferred method of transportation in TO?

I'm a huge fan of the subway! The novelty of it still hasn't worn off, not even after two and a half years of traveling on it. Even streetcars are pretty cool. I also really respect that cab drivers in Toronto figured out the "hired = light off" and "available = light on" thing, because cabs back home still haven't gotten a handle on that.

Are you still saying "Happy New Year" to people?

Truthfully, I haven't really been wishing people "Happy New Year" at all. Should I start?

What do you hope happens in 2008?

I hope they invent teleportation so going back and forth from Toronto and St. John's wouldn't be so difficult. I think seeing Blood Brothers get back together would be awesome. I just hope at the end of 2008 I'm at least a little bit different than I am now - hopefully for the better, maybe a little on the smarter side.

How would you describe your live show?

I would say it's very... "energetic", which I guess is really just another word for "sweaty". There's a lot of running around and jumping and yelling, and we're all pretty out of shape except maybe Brock and Matt. Actually, maybe it's just me. It's also quite loud, so bring earplugs. Seriously, Adam is the loudest drummer on earth, although he also once told me I'm the loudest guitar player he ever played with, so there's that.

Have you started working on a debut record?

If all goes well we're gonna start recording at the end of February. We'd like to get the record out before the summer, but you know how these things go - stuff always ends up getting pushed back for whatever reason. Whether it's an EP or a full-length, that still remains to be seen.

Whatever Happened to Corduroy CD Release
with Oh No Forest Fires and The Postage Stamps
Thursday, January 10
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen St. W
$5 at the door

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with artists from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Pete Nema.

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