The new version of an old band starts rocking
There’s a sense of eagerness that coats the walls of Rancho Relaxo in stucco icing.
Deep in the Harbord Village nightspot, four band members converge from different parts of the globe to play their first gig in Toronto as the new lineup of Paint.
Anticipation is the electricity arcing in Danforth resident Robb Johannes’ eyes. The band’s frontman, and only surviving member from the group’s 2001 inception, sheepishly grins.
Before the show though, in the removed confines of Rancho’s restaurant a floor below, the men: an Australian not five months in Canada, an Oakville guitarist who travelled to Afghanistan in the name of music, a young bassist from Pickering, and transplanted Vancouverite Johannes relax and share fits of laughter in between swigs of beer.
Their mission is simple.
“We wanted to do a sort of Brit rock band that’s really loud and sonic, focused on great melodies and keeping it fairly simple,” Johannes says. “We pretty much have four chords in each song.”
When Johannes says we, he refers to his former bandmates, who recorded Paint’s most recent album Can You Hear Me?
Originally a B.C. funk-folk fusion band, Johannes says he wasn’t being true to himself playing that particular genre back in 2001.
“I took some time off, played in some other bands, toured, made records,” he says. “After all that smoke kind of cleared, I met up with the drummer from a band called Astoria in Vancouver and we dreamed up this concept of what’s our ideal band and what are our influences and not being ashamed about them.”
What came next was the fresh coat of Paint, influenced heavily by Oasis, U2 and Pearl Jam.
Johannes eventually made his way to Toronto, solo.
Still wanting to keep Paint going, he sought new members through Craigslist and MySpace.
The quiet drummer Luke Lombardini, who flew in from Melbourne just to join the band, guitarist Jeff Logan — fresh from a Kandahar concert for troops — and 20-year-old bassist Marcus Warren soon joined Johannes.
Fully assembled, practice sessions ensued, including one where the quartet was eventually kicked out of a church.
“It was a vocal studio for me and it turned into a full band rehearsal space and (the church) expected a quiet group,” Johannes says. “We lasted two weeks and they sort of politely kicked us out.
“I mean the fact that we were playing ‘Hells Bells’ at every interlude probably didn’t help either,” he adds, tongue firmly planted in cheek.
The humour is contagious, as Logan pipes up.
“Not only are we getting kicked out of church, we’ll never be able to play in America,” he says, breaking out laughing.
The mirth never pales with the four men, which is surprising since five months ago they were complete strangers.
But they have come together like hues in a colour wheel.
“What we’ve done so far feels pretty natural,” Johannes says. “I’m really excited about writing together and taking the band to the next level.
“We’ve had moments playing together where this is the best we’ve been playing in any form.”
The four men plan to celebrate the release of Can You Hear Me? Aug. 22 at the Velvet Underground.