Monday, January 05, 2009

New Music Monday: The Racoons

For many of us, The Raccoons have always been that classic Canadian cartoon about, well a bunch of raccoons. But I believe they too used to thoroughly enjoy rocking out. Not to be confused with Victoria's The Racoons, a band that has been creating a steady following on the West coast with sold out live shows and some great tracks which hint at nothing but good things to come from these guys in the future. For all you readers, I strongly suggest you check out their stuff. I had a chance to talk with singer / guitarist Matthew Lyall about being a band on the West Coast, their other projects, and what is in store for 2009.

January 3rd, 2009

BTA: Maybe to start off, if you could just introduce yourself and your band.

Matthew: Allo, my name is Matthew Lyall and I play guitar and sing in The Racoons.

BTA: How was the show last night?

Matthew: Really fun show last night. We played with Aidan Knight (from Maurice) and Bloody Wilma who are an unreal Drum and Bass 2 piece. I'm sure they hate DFA 1979 comparisons but they absolutely killed it. The show sold out pretty quickly and we had a bunch of friends get turned away at the door which was a little lame, so we had to sneak a few through the back alley. Despite a record breaking five broken strings and a snapped guitar strap the show was pretty smooth. We usually prefer to play uninterupted sets with zero transition time to keep the crowd going, but it was a little more laid back last night since we we're debuting some new songs and playing for about an hour and half. You can be a little self-indulgent with a packed hometown crowd I guess.

BTA: Since you guys have been playing together as The Racoons, would you say your sound has changed alot between now and when you started out? If so, what do you think the reason for that is?

Matthew: Well we've really only been together for about seven months with this lineup so it's tough to really compare what we're doing now to earlier stuff. I mean, three of us played together before in another group that was kind of a Whiskeytown era Ryan Adams meets Brian Jonestown Massacre thing. It was just a weird concept though because although it drew on some collective influences it ended up as this strange pastiche that none of us we're really thrilled about. So as inorganic as it sounds, we literally sat down one day and defined the parameters of what kind of project this was going to be and how it was going to work. Basically I come to Murray (Guitar/Synths) with these simple new wavey numbers that are basically Springsteen anthems and he draws them back from being completely over the top with some faux-vintage micro-korg, which apparently adds instant credibility. He's the poor man's Krug to my equally poor man's Boeckner if you will, (it's hard coming from Victoria and fighting the Wolf Parade comparisons so you might as take it as a compliment).

BTA: Two of the guys in the band are also members of The Paper Cranes. Has this ever caused any kind of issues with The Racoons in terms of progress or any kind of touring conflict?

Matthew: Yeah, we're all involved in side projects which can make operating as a unit pretty difficult. Murray and myself play together in another group (Digital Buffalo) and Alex (bass) and Jeff (drums) play together in The Paper Cranes. We haven't really had any major issues so far in terms of commitments, maybe except for Alex and Jeff pulling overtime at a Racoons/Paper Cranes double bill. The Cranes are doing a European tour in a couple months so we'll take a little break as a band and maybe play a few Digital Buffalo shows. Then in the summer we're planning a cross-Canada tour with a few American dates if we can work out the visa issues.

BTA: You're most recent set of recordings actually originated from recording in a garage? What was the problem with what had been laid down in the studio?

Matthew: We spent most of July and August of last year in a studio with a management company footing the bill. We had some creative differences with the producer and things didn't really work out as planned so we all just kind of walked away from the initial recording process. So we shelved the whole "album" idea but we still wanted an E.P. so we could prove to our grandparents we aren't complete frauds. So we ended up laying down some really rough mixes with our friend Jean-Paul from the band Maurice. He's made this great recording space in his house with basically a computer and a couple grand worth of equipment and we ended up making an E.P. in a couple weeks. I still don't know if it's a great facsimile of what we sound like live since it was impossible to record off the floor, but it definitely conveys what we're about for the most part.

BTA: You guys have had several sold out shows in Victoria, BC. And theres also been some recent radio play. What do you think of the reception The Racoons have gotten? Do you think it's more difficult being based on the West coast as opposed to say, Montreal?

Matthew: It's been great for sure, we've been very lucky. It's a little easier putting off real life decisions when you get to play packed shows or have your parents hear you on the radio ha. I mean, I don't know if we're a product of our environment because no one really associates our style of music with our hometown. Victoria is a funny city in that sense though, because no one really ever gives it credit for Frog Eyes, Immaculate Machine, Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown etc. It's not music that immediately brings the west coast to mind at first listen, but if you peel away all the shitty hardcore and ska music and Jack Johnson cover bands there's this small but thriving scene. However, there's a rule that as soon as you start selling out you've gotta move to Montreal and erase your Island alter-ego. That's kind of the general joke behind the title of our E.P. (Islomania) since it's this basically irrelevant little island that we all have this funny little love-hate relationship with. We want to be left alone, but we're also really scared that we're missing out.

BTA: Happy New Year! What does 2009 have in store for The Racoons? There's been some label interest floating around?

Matthew: Yeah, we've had some discussions with labels, but we're still sticking it to the man ha. It seems like it's going to be a long song and dance before anything gets hammered out but that's just as well since we're just as freaked out about signing a deal as we are about never getting one. We're lucky since we're late bloomers in our class and some of our friends have been fucked over well ahead of time by record labels so we've been handed a how-to guide about avoiding complete disaster. Inshallah.

The Racoons - Islomania

The Racoons - Be my Television

1 comment:

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Here, I do not actually imagine it will have effect.