Cellos: Faster, louder, heavier – local noise rock heavy hitters

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Photo by: Murad Erzinclioglu

Band names can be misleading, especially in independent music. Normally, there are subtle cues found in a band’s name that point the listener to the style of music they’re about to experience – you’d hardly expect a band with ‘Death’ in their title to be singing happy pop songs about life’s finer points. With a band called Cellos, most people would expect to hear something classical – or at least, featuring the instrument in question. This month’s local feature artist is here to put that misconception to rest while drowning your ears in a thick layer of distortion and pure, unadulterated energy.

Photo by: Murad Erzinclioglu
Photo by: Murad Erzinclioglu

The band – vocalist/guitarist Kyle Marchand, drummer David Allen and bassist Joe Rabie – have been pushing their unique brand of punk-tinged noise rock since they formed three years ago. As members of a myriad of local bands, the boys stumbled on each other at a show on Devil’s Night of 2010 and decided to join forces to create something visceral and new. The parts all fell into place quickly, according to Marchand.

“We found out we were living in the same city, and we all wanted to do something heavier. We got together and ended up writing two songs that wound up on our first record during our first practice. We knew we had something special at that point.”

Cellos played their first show as a band in March 2011, opening for Winnipeg’s Polaris Prize-nominated KEN Mode, and haven’t slowed down since. They’ve released three albums to date on three different record labels, including Windsor record store/label Ah Some Records and two American indie labels. They’re no stranger the challenges that come with releasing independent albums, but their latest full-length The Accident really put that process into perspective for them.

“We were talking to the owner [of Ah Some Records] and he’d mentioned that he wanted to start putting out records again. We had full control of every aspect of the record – from where we wanted to get everything printed, to the colour schemes and the design of the record inserts.” But it wasn’t all wine and roses, according to Allen. “It was really rewarding, but it was stressful at the same time. A lot of things came together at the last second for us, but there were never any guarantees.”

The band has a hard time categorizing their unique style, saying that the weight of their music comes from years of listening to metal and the energy comes from their love of punk music, but it’s not quite that simple. “We dip into a lot of genres that might not come out overtly,” laughs Marchand. “We listen to so much music that it’s bound to happen. We love playing music that’s full of energy but that’s also challenging.” Part of the band’s edge comes from heading into the studio before songs are fully finished, and letting some spontaneity bleed through into their recordings, which helps keep them at rapid pace without resting on their laurels.

They have no plans of resting any time soon. The band just departed on a mini-tour of Ontario before the release of this issue, and are determined to push their music as far as they can go. They plan to release a new record in the next year, and are looking to expand across the border as soon as possible. “We get a lot of new fans through our Bandcamp, and a lot of them are from the USA – I think that releasing our albums through American labels has helped that, but it’s great to know that people are digging our music without even seeing us play it yet.” Marchand is optimistic about their market across the border, but frustrated about the red tape that has kept them from being able to make it a reality. “The border is bullshit. I mean, it’s imaginary – there’s this tiny body of water between us. I can see the fucking bar that I want to play in, and I’m not even looking to make that much money off of my music. I just want to give kids a great show, and I’m being told that I can’t.” We hear you there, buddy.

While you wait for the band to drop a new album, they promise they have new content to tide you over. They recently recorded a live-off-the-floor Pinball Session through a studio in Guelph that you can find online, crank through your speakers and host your own sweaty listening-party moshpit to in your basement.

When asked about the style of their new record, Cellos is hesitant to give away details, but they do say they’re working on a few slower songs. “We have all of these fast and loud punk songs, but I’m finding that I can’t just scream my lungs out for 45 minutes straight,” explains Marchand. “I’m human. I get winded. The songs will still be dynamic and heavy, don’t worry – they’ll just be a little bit slower so I can breathe.”

Just when you thought that the band had too much on their plate, you’ll be interested to know that Cellos is far from their only project – they’ve got their hands in a number of local bands (Poughboy, What Seas What Shores, Area 51, and too many more to count), but try to treat Cellos as their main band without neglecting their other projects. They also own and operate the Jam Space on Walker Road that gives musicians a space to make as much noise as they want, as well as music lessons and recording for emerging artists.

“We have the best jobs in the world,” says Allen. “We get to teach kids music, and we get to make our own at the same time.” Their students are always surprised to hear what their teachers’ band sounds like, but most of them leave as fans.

We’d like to formally thank Cellos for keeping music alive in the city, and for making punk-rockers out of impressionable young minds. Pick up copies of their albums digitally or on vinyl through their Bandcamp, and make sure you catch the band whenever you can to see what you’ve been missing.

By: Andrew Bell