Skanking, Streetlight, diet Pepsi: My interview with Small Town Get Up

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By: Harrison Giza


Listening to Small Town Get up for the first time is like playing Tony Hawk for the first time. IT RULES. They have everything you need in a modern band, like blaring horns and choruses about reading the paper. Of course, they are Canadian, so they have that going for them and it clearly shows. The amount of giddy punk’d-ska is Gojira level, and beyond that? They are danceable, free from ill-copied sounds, and a respect for the artists that started before them.

Still, there is something new in their homages and popped-manifesto boogie. There’s no doubt “Donovan Bailey” has b-side Streetlight sounds. But they take it farther. “Homecoming” roars like a Roosevelt, guitars synched against the walls of waved-cool Get Up have packed into them.

 

The ska has this indie twang and I’m in love with it. The drums parade and pack a snap, kick, and barrel roll when needed. I had the fortune of talking to the band a few weeks ago. From what I gathered, they’re good ones with intentions of staying that way. We talked influences, taste, and most importantly, what it’s like to make ska-punk orgasm music.

 


HG: Who are your biggest influences? I know you guys must be ska-heads.

STGU: It’s funny that you say that, because none of us really listen to ska music very much. When we started, most of our members didn’t even know what ‘ska’ was! Jeff (trombone) is really into the ska scene and it definitely comes out in his lines, but other than that, I think most of our influences come from many different types of music. We all listen to different bands, whether its punk, metal, jazz or alternative, and having these various influences comes out in the writing process. Granted, when we started out, our sound was definitely molded by bands like Streetlight Manifesto and Reel Big Fish, but as of late we’ve been influenced more by punk-rock music.

HG: The way “Take the Night” starts is so, for lack of an overused word, epic. Where did that song come from?

STGU: Thanks! We actually learned that song the day before we recorded it. And yes, we are complete procrastinators. Nick had written out the horn parts and a direction of where the song was going, and the final format was created with the help from our amazing producer Matt Drake while we were in the recording process. The horn intro with backing double bass actually happened when we were just practicing the song in the studio. The horns were practicing a line in the chorus, and Nick hopped on double bass and played the root notes to complete the chord. Matt was super stoked on the sound and suggested we use it as an intro instead of using a guitar riff. Mind you, at 2am drinking nothing but diet Pepsi, anything probably sounded good to that guy. But, we all agreed it would make a sick intro, and bam, there it was.

In terms of the actual song, ‘Take The Night’ is just an expression of being young and exploring an exciting city, staying up all night with your best friends and having cool experiences that you’ll never forget. The song was written as a way to capture that essence musically and lyrically. Nick loves the band ‘Snowing’ which was a huge influence for the song, especially the guitar riff in the chorus.

HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.

STGU: This is probably one of the harder questions actually. We’d probably go with anything including bacon and eggs, and maybe a side of chocolate chip pancakes with a glass of OJ. Perfect for post-show hangovers.

HG: How long have you all been playing for? When was the first time the band ALL came together and played?

STGU: We’ve been playing for about 5 years now. We all knew each other growing up, but the band really started in high school. We were all in the same music class (except Jeff who was at a different high school) when Nick kinda threw us all together and we started jamming. For the current lineup, the first time we all ‘officially’ played together was probably in Nick’s basement. We jammed for a while, trying to get enough songs together for a full set, and we played our first show at this dive called ‘73’ in St. Catherines. It was basically a hallway that could fit maybe 30 or 40 people with a bunch of holes in the wall. It was kinda sketchy looking back on it, but it was the start of something pretty cool.

 HG: How do you feel about the state of punk music today?

STGU: I can’t really speak on the American punk scene, but here in Canada the punk scene is really starting to make a name for itself. There are so many bands coming from Canada that are doing really cool things, and we’re really stoked to be playing music when the scene seems to be exploding. It might take a bit of digging, but if you’re tired of all that top 40 radio music (lord knows we are), checking out some Canadian punk especially from Toronto or Montreal will do your ears a whole lot of good.

HG: What can fans expect from seeing you live?

STGU: I think fans can expect not to be standing still by the end of the show. When we play live, especially for people that don’t know our music, they don’t really know what to think. But, when they see the band jumping around and having a good time, I think it transfers over to the crowd. They see that we’re all just here for a good time and that they can dance around and go nuts if they feel like it. It gets us fired up when we see the crowd is enjoying the music and in turn makes us play even better. There seems to be a lot of reciprocity at our shows.

HG: I love “Wild Like We Were” so much. How do you feel now from when you guys started? Do you see improvement or consistency?

STGU: If anything, we see a lot of improvement in our songwriting, and also a lot of inconsistency. When we wrote the ‘No Tradebacks’ EP, we were still trying to find our sound. We had the 4 horn setup, so we were writing songs that dabbled in jazz since it fit the part, but we also wanted to write punk and rock songs because that’s the music that we enjoyed listening to. That EP was really an experiment for us, and it kinda gave us an idea of what worked and what didn’t, and also just the songwriting process in general. With ‘New Noise’, we’re all very proud of what we came up with. It’s by no means a concept album, but the songs follow a similar genre and there seems to be consistency throughout the album. It’s all a learning process, and I think we feel great about the direction we’re heading.

HG: What do you guys do when you aren’t writing ska-punk-orgasm music?

STGU: First of all, we’re going to use that term as our new genre, so thank you. As a 7 member band, we all have different things we like to do when not writing music. Some of us play sports and enjoy being outdoors, while others are amateur jugglers and compost enthusiasts. We’re really a collection of 7 different guys connected by the music we play. Actually, we’ve really gotten into board games recently, so if you ever want to play scrabble or cribbage, just give us a call!

HG: When do you know when a song is finished?

STGU: I think the only way to tell when a song is truly finished is when we all hit that final chord, let it die out, and we all look around and everyone has a big grin on their face. When that happens, it’s time to wrap it up and move on to the next one.

HG: How’d you land on that name? You guys are from Ontario…

STGU: I believe Brennen (bass player) randomly came up with that name when we just started jamming. I think the glory of the name came with the idea that we’re a ‘getup’ from a small town, or it could mean that we want the small town to ‘get up’!. Our high-school brains thought it was cool so we’ll just have to live with that decision for all our lives or whatever.

HG: And finally, what can we expect from you in the future?

STGU: You can expect a lot from us! Since some of us are still in school, touring will be a bit tedious, but we’re still going to play as much as possible. We’re planning on playing shows in Montreal and Ottawa by the end of the year, and hopefully take some trips to the US in 2015 since we have some passionate US fans that really sass us quite hard when we don’t play their hometowns. Also, we may be releasing a 7” by the end of the year, who knows eh!

 Twitter: @SmallTOwnGetUp

Music: http://smalltowngetup.com/

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