Toronto through the eyes of Nirvana The Band The Show's Jay McCarrol and Matt Johnson
I met Jay McCarrol and Matt Johnson, creators of popular web-series, Nirvana The Band The Show near The Rivoli. The guys finished production of the series in late 2009 and are now focusing on other projects. McCarrol is acting as the musical director for Second City and performing with The Golden Dogs, and Johnson has just begun auditions for his new film: a school shooting comedy.
Your web series had a lot of references to High Park and The Rivoli. What is it that resonates with you about these two places?
JM: When we first moved in here, we knew we were making this project, but we hadn't decided on The Rivoli. We knew about- in our little, small bubble of what we knew was Toronto; we moved right here and The Rivoli was right there.That was the extent of it; we really made the show around what we knew at the time.
MJ: I think that, definitely, that is- it's become really tourist-y now, you know, because of Much Music. When people think of downtown, I think, at least, when I went on school trips; that's what you think of. You think of that and you think of Kensington Market, which is something we never got to put in our show which I always wanted to. High Park less so. That's where I grew up when I was very young, like, when I was 3 or 4, right by High Park.
Would you say the show was your perception of Toronto to an extent?
MJ: Yeah, but, it's funny, 'cause I always thought that what we were doing was taking the lives of suburban kids and putting them into a city. You know what I mean? Because these were very imaginative kids with absolutely no cynicism whatsoever, like, the most anti-cynical characters ever, which is the exact opposite of what you would expect living in a city. So, I mean, that wasn't intentional, but, I think that it was very anti-urban in the types of characters we were playing, at least in what we were doing. I mean, we love Toronto, we've said, or, at least, I feel like I would never want to move no matter what.
Your presence on Queen is synonymous with the series. What other neighbourhoods are you guys interested in?
JM: You mean, like, since we've shot a lot on Queen, what other places interest
us? Well, we're on Bloor a lot.
MJ: Well, The Annex. We go there all the time.
JM: Our experience in Toronto, has been, you know, between here and Bloor, where some of our friends have lived.
MJ: That's pretty much where this city exists for us, in fact, we never, ever go east of Yonge, I would say even east of University most times. The whole city is pretty much just University to Bathurst and Queen to Bloor. That's pretty much all that we consider downtown Toronto. I consider anything east of the CN Tower to be Scarborough.
JM: That's our small, home-pocket. And then in the summer, it's great because you can bike around. And one of our friends just started a new studio on Ossington and Bloor, it's wicked, it's this huge house, and him and his buddy have made this gorgeous music studio there, and music school. And so I know I'm gonna be biking there all the time. I just remembered about that, I'm really excited about that.
Have you guys felt a little bit more connected to Toronto's music scene since the show began?
MJ: Our show has been embraced! I don't know how it happened. Jay, especially, like, every band in the city knows who Jay- well, a lot of cool bands know who Jay is. He got asked to join The Golden Dogs. It's a good ticket, I think, for him. Being a musician, to have come from this show, because he can be like, "I'm the guy from that show." And it seems as though a lot of bands, especially young, up and coming bands know about it, know about the show, very helpful for him.
JM: Yeah, it's been good.
MJ: Maybe not "helpful". "Helpful" is not the right word, but "cool." It's very cool.
Where do you guys like to eat?
JM & MJ: Little India.
MJ: Gandhi Roti, I mean, these are obviously very popular. Here's some ones that people probably don't eat at a lot: Avenue Open Kitchen, one block south of us, on...what street is that...Adelaide? [7 Camden St.]
JM: We shouldn't tell anybody this.
MJ: We go to Futures all the time.
Writing by Kevin Rogers. Photo by Nina Staer-Nathan.
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