Public band toronto

Public Planning: Long Term

I had been carefully watching Public's show schedule ever since I saw them (by accident) a couple months ago at the Rivoli. Their debut EP "...and in the end, release" is easily my favourite EP of 2009, thus far. Very rarely does a band manage to capture the energy of their live performance onto disc.

Public plays tomorrow night at the Mod Club, and this upcoming performance was just the excuse I needed to arrange for an interview with Chris Stopa, lead singer of the band. Three years in the making, they are a great Toronto band, so why I had never heard of them before?

Public has an accessible sound; their tracks may not be loved/liked by all, but it's certainly not offensive or abrasive in any way, shape, or form. They are a Toronto indie-rock band, but they sound mainstream and are very radio-friendly. Maybe a cross between the Killers and Keane? Maybe not... but they're definitely onto something.

Chris has spent time in different countries and cities pursuing his dreams, and from New York City to London, England, he has decided that Toronto is the best place to bring a band together.

"New York was a different kettle of fish, because everybody's watching their watch or watching their wallets. Because there are so many opportunities to play with other bands, it's like the stock market; so many bands are rising and falling at any particular moment, that if you found a guy who was a great guitar player he probably had four or five different bands and whichever one went on tour first was the one who would snag the guitar player. You could play with great people, but it was insane to get anyone to commit to anything or to just... relax."

So what makes Toronto different? I know of a couple bands that share drummers, or bassists. For example, Provincial Parks share a drummer with Schomberg Fair.

"I came back to Toronto because I find that there's some level of truth to it; some level of laid-back... it just is. It's not trying to be something. I don't have to work with anybody's schedule in another band, and we're not trying to beat the next band to a booking agent or something. So, that's what was great about coming back. And then finding people who are just relaxed, and just want to play music."

In London, England, Chris also had a difficult time trying to put together an organic ensemble.

"I spent a year answering ads in Melody Maker [now target="_blank">New Musical Express]. I actually still have my daytimer, which is like a diary now, where I've cut out an ad for every page and written 'is going to call back', or 'no answer', or 'good rehearsal', and it was fucking insane doing it that way. It's such a crap-shoot if you want it to work in the long term. Anyone can get along with anyone for a little while. A romantic period exists, but if you want it to last for longer than a year, or when you're not making any money - the answering-ads-in-the-paper-thing doesn't extend beyond those realms. At least not from what I've found."

In three years, Public must have been playing shows. So why wasn't I familiar with them?

"At first we didn't want to play anywhere where anyone would go, actually. At first we just wanted to lay low and do our own thing, and not be faced with the main thing for booking: just worry about the draw. They [the bookers] don't really give a shit what you sound like at the end of the day. We knew we couldn't fill the place being brand new. How many times can you call your friends to come out? So we just booked Holy Joe's, which no one ever goes to. So we played there as many times as we could just to get things going. Then, once we felt comfortable, we moved to bigger venues."

Like the Mod Club. Tomorrow night.

Photo courtesy of Lori Bruce

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