Call & Response: Parlovr
Montreal indie trio Parlovr (pronounced "parlour"...see below) are a band people are taking notice of here in Toronto, thanks to their catchy self-titled album and their energetic live shows. Their Wolf Parade-esque approach to indie rock is a popular one and they do it very well.
Multi-instrumentalists Alex Cooper ("a New-Brunswick born Anglophone who grew up in the Middle East and has been living in Montreal for the past 8 years") and Louis Jackson ("an English-speaking Francophone who grew up on army bases") became friends and bandmates after having a fistfight at a show, then they stole talented drummer Jeremy MacCuish ("an English-speaking, half-American born and raised Montrealer") from another band in town by yelling the invitation to him from across the street. Very cool.
Parlovr play two shows this weekend as part of this year's Pitter Patter Festival. I spoke with Alex about the "v", their Montreal/Canadian sound, and how Montrealers still never really "visit" Toronto.
blogTO: Why the "v" instead of the "u"?
Alex Cooper: Louis and I first moved in with one another (and his then girlfriend) into a loft in a commercial building in Montreal's Parc-extension. We had to name the 'business' to make our use of the space 'official' and Louis had been reading The Tin Drum I think, and in it there was this "kitten parlour" of death and sex that sounded kind of funny and alluring. So we eventually named our commercial 'business' and abode "The Parlour" to keep it simple. It was a natural name to designate our musical project until we became aware of the many bands with a similar name, one of which had their manager contact us telling us that we couldn't use it anymore. So, we went all Roman and switched the 'u' with a classical 'v' (e.g. Bvlgari or Edvard Munch), which we instantly realized looked more badass than ever in printed form.
Which 90s power-trios inspired you the most?
I think that we appreciate the notion that three people can create enough sound to carry something pretty heavy and meaningful. It's an approach which goes against (though not angrily) the current (or perhaps now passĂŠ) trend which we have seen around us of creating many-membered bands.
If I were to name one inspirational 90s power trio, though, I would be terribly remiss if I didn't say Nirvana (for all you people born after 1990, Kurt Cobain is not some douchebag responsible for Nickelback).
What else would you consider inspirations (music or otherwise)?
All three of us have our personal inspirations for writing and playing. But I think these three musical idols are probably common denominators: Frank Black's scream, John Lennon's sarcasm and Wayne Coyne's heart.
Although you have successfully rebelled against the "the multi-instrumental, many-membered orchestral bands" in Montreal, your sound still seems very Montreal. Would you agree?
Yes, I hope we sound like Montreal - we're from here! We are also told we sound very 'Canadian'. When bloggers in Europe or even the USA listen to us, they say "Hey, there's another Canadian-sounding band". They might be thinking of Wolf Parade, but they might also be thinking of Broken Social Scene or maybe Born Ruffians (both of whom aren't from Montreal).
I love your album artwork. Who made the cover and what's the story behind that illustration?
The wonderful person responsible for that artwork is a lady named Sara Guindon, part of a duo of arts & crafters called the Pin Pals. She illustrated that specifically for the album in her characteristic style. Louis and I came up with the idea of having a bunch of kooky-looking people partying and that was her interpretation of what we asked of her. She's one of those rare visual artists who can make something brand new look so preciously old. Her stuff is great - you can see a very cute short film she did for the NFB here.
Are they any new Montreal bands we should check out?
These are my personal choices:
And, with a disclaimer that we have direct association with:
What do you like best about visiting Toronto?
I'm not going to lie: Toronto still gets a lot of shit from Montrealers, for whatever reason. In the end, it's like going to your parents' house for Thanksgiving. We don't 'visit' Toronto, we go there to pay our dues, have fun, get drunk and then eventually go home. In its own weird way, Toronto is like a second home to me because of all the friends of mine that live there. I don't visit Toronto; I drop by every once in a while.
What should people expect to see/hear/feel at your Pitter Patter shows?
There's a lot of yelling and jumping and smiling and dancing that goes on whether we're playing to few people or many. If you haven't heard or seen us before, you might first notice: a) a lot of energy for three unassuming guys, and b) how loving we are of each other on stage. For those who have heard us or seen us before, expect even more yelling, jumping and smiling. Overall, you'll hear a bunch of eclectic, catchy songs rolling one into the next in a planned but panicked succession, played by three people who are losing themselves in a trance for a series of short 3-7 minute bursts. We'll throw in some new numbers, too.
Parlovr w/ Black Hat Brigade, Burn Planetarium, The Balconies
Friday, May 29
462 Spadina Ave
Parlovr w/ Bent By Elephants, Vive le Quebec Libre, Colour Bars
Saturday, May 30
158 Augusta Ave
PWYC, All Ages
(Both shows as part of Pitter Patter Festival)
Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with bands from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Sharon Davies.
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