Toronto punk rockers from THE GENTLEMEN THIEVES interviewed

THE GENTLEMEN THIEVES released their “Uncertainties” in April this year and it’s high time to put in a good word for these dudes here on IDIOTEQ. Produced and engineered by Dave “Brownsound” Baksh (ex-SUM 41), mixed by Tyler Gardiner (THE PENSKE FILE) and mastered by Steve Rizun (THE FLATLINERS, THE CREEPSHOW), “Uncertainties” serves a solid, very natural approach to melodic punk, keeping the classic punk rock sound, but adding this fresh, spontaneous feel that makes them kind of unique. Energize your winter evenings, play it loud and scroll down to read my interview with Toronto’s THE GENTLEMEN THIEVES! You’ll love it!

Hey guys! How are you? How’s Toronto? Did you already freeze your asses off, or is it not that bad yet?

We’re doing well! It’s not too cold yet. Although Mother Nature has been messing around with us a bunch. One week it’s colder and snowing, the next week it’s warm again and raining. It’s better than last year though. That was a snowy nightmare. We were still getting our album mixed during last Christmas, and our mixing engineer called us to apologize because he wouldn’t be able to get the songs done on time. There was a giant snowstorm and it knocked out a bunch of power lines in Toronto for days. Needless to say, we understood! Haha

Haha! Awesome! I love winters and I’m extremely worried that no snow fell here in Warsaw so far. Your latest album “Uncertainties” is surely a great recipe to warm up on a cold winter day. Are you still celebrating your debut full length, or did you already forget about it and focused on your future recordings?

We’re definitely still focused on it. We released it last April, so it hasn’t even been a year yet. We’ve already released two singles/music videos from it (“Don’t Worry” and “Your Beauty Is Not Forgotten”). We still have one or two more music videos/singles coming out next year. We have a lot of fun making music videos. They’re usually pretty fun and creative, so there are still a couple ideas left for this album. We do hope to bring something new out in late 2015 though. What that is, we’re not quite sure yet. We have a bunch of songs and demos to work with, so it could be a couple shorter releases, or another big album. Time will tell.

I into this hard rockin’, very natural type of pop punk / punk rock you guys managed to deliver on this album. Straight up energy and smart melodies instead of “la la” bull shit and girls-oriented, super radio friendly pop rockin’, haha. How did you decide to hit this particular direction?

I’m glad you agree with us haha. We are also sort of over this newer, modern pop-punk sound. It’s a bit saturated. I think a lot of modern bands definitely focus more on the pop side of things, where we come from more of a punk/rock background. We want to take a rocking song, and bring more melody and harmony to it, as opposed to making a pop song sound a little rougher. When we started this band, we wanted to make music that sounded like what we listened to when we grew up as teenagers, but bring some of our modern influences into it. A lot of what we currently listen to and are influenced by isn’t pop-punk, or even punk for that matter. We’ve definitely widened our spectrum, which I think allows us to incorporate a different approach or perspective than other current pop-punk bands.

Why did it take so long for THE GENTLEMEN THIEVES to release their full length album? How long has the record been in production?

It mostly came down to finding time to record and work on the album. We became a band in early 2011. Within a couple months, we had written most of what would become “Uncertainties”, with the exception of a few last minute songs. We began pre-production on the album in late 2012, and began recording in early 2013. The recording process was amazing, but between our schedules, and our producer/audio engineer (Dave Baksh) schedule, it was hard to find pockets of time where we were mutually available. Once we finished recording, we sat on it for a few months before we handed it off to get mixed and mastered, as we were busy with recruiting a new bassist. Once we secured Dylan into the band though, we finished the album, and hit the ground running! We’ve been pushing it hard ever since.

How does the songwriting dynamic work considering you know each other quite well after all these years?

Our singer/guitarist Ken will usually record a demo and send it to us. If we like what we hear, we’ll jam it out as a band, and the rest of the band throws forward their input. Usually this means adding some extra riffs or harmonies, although sometimes it can involve changing the structure around. Ken will always write the lyrics though, with minor exceptions. I (David) also write the odd song for the band as well. On the last album, both “Comatose Party” and “Sick Of Me” were originally written by myself. With Dylan now in the band however, we’re looking forward to working with some of his material. After putting together our last album, we definitely learned a lot, and what works for us. We’re a lot more critical and focused on our songs, and the writing process. Our next release is sure to be a step up from our previous work.

Ok guys, so where do you hope this new album will lead the band in the coming months? What do you see as the next step in your development? What are your goals in 2015?

We’re actually in the middle of working on this right now haha! There’s been some good feedback and reception from the album. Because of this, we’re looking to take it into new markets. We might plan an American tour for 2015, although the work visa’s required for that is quite pricey. We also talked about possibly spending some time in the UK next year. Our producer recently moved there, so we might try to play some shows around the area, and work with him on some of our new songs if he’s available. We’re also hoping to approach some distributors overseas in Europe and Japan to see if they’d be interested in any future release, so we’ll see how that goes.

How do you see your local punk scene going in general nowadays? How thriving is it?

Here in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) there is a thriving, bustling scene for punk/rock/indie music. There’s a ton of amazing bands, which is great because you get to hear them and see them often, but it also hard to stand out because there’s a lot of competition. Luckily everyone seems to get along, and works with each other, so there’s a great sense of community and scene.

Please recommend us some cool local bands, venues, and festivals worth checking out.

Sneaky Dees is our favourite Toronto venue to play. Great live sound, atmosphere, and food! The Railway Club in Vancouver is another nice club to play. It has my favourite green room of any venue I’ve ever played haha. To get into it, there’s a tiny door you have to crawl through, like something from “Being John Malkovich”.
As for festivals, we just finished playing Burly Calling. That’s a great new festival that takes place in Burlington, which is my hometown. They do a great job focusing on local talent, and it’s a giant party all weekend long. I’d also check out Pouzza Fest in Montreal. That festival does a great job getting some bigger bands, while still giving smaller, independent bands a chance to play. It always takes place on my birthday weekend, and Montreal is my favourite city, so good times are guaranteed!

What new artists have you discovered in 2014 that you feel deserve our attention, too?

Aside from the bands I listed above, there’s a few I can think of. They’re not really new, but my bassist Dylan and I recently discovered THE FRONT BOTTOMS when we both played Pouzza Fest earlier this year. We’re now obsessed with them haha. I also think bands like Hollerado and TOKYO POLICE CLUB don’t get enough worldwide recognition. They’re both amazing indie-rock bands from Canada that everyone should listen to.

Apart from THE GENTLEMEN THIEVES’ shows, what gigs got you excited in 2014? Any stand out shows you recall attending?

There’s one coming up on December 12th here in Toronto that should be the best show of the year, if not my life. It’s THE FLATLINERS, PUP, and THE DIRTY NIL, which are three of my favourite bands. That’s sure to be a great time. A couple of us went and saw GOB play back in October, and they still kill it live. Dylan also saw MOTHER MOTHER perform recently, and said it was one of his favourite concerts he’s ever been to.

Ok guys, what the future holds for punk rock music may not be known, although it is always nice to play a guess game, right? What would independent punk rock music from the future sound like? How do you see the future of the movement in, let’s say, 50 years?

Damn, that’s a hard question. I’m not sure what they music industry will look like in 50 years period, yet alone punk rock. I will say this though; as long as there are angsty youth, punk rock will live on. The internet provides a great means to sharing your music, and getting your voice/message heard, so finding an audience for your music has been easier than ever. I think record labels and radio stations, while still helpful, won’t be as strong or necessary as they once were, so there will be more of an opportunity for punk bands to thrive, and reach comfortable levels of success.

Ok guys, thanks a lot for your time. Is there anything you’d like to add or promote here?

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THE GENTLEMEN THIEVES official website

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