Fresh off their recent new music video release in support of their crime noire inspired single “Murder” off their upcoming full length “Up and AT Them”, Toronto’s premiere melodic, sarcastic punk rock trio THE MENDOZAZ are joining us today to give us a quick tour de underground music in their beautiful hometown.
The Mendozaz formed in early 2017 as a part-time outlet for three guys who just wanted to play pop punk, but were committed to bands with other things in mind. Expectations were low: play a couple shows, record a four song EP, then resume activities with the previous bands.
Today, those previous bands are defunct, and Jonny and Michael (now joined by new drummer Zozo) are releasing their second full-length “Up And At Them”. It’s a half hour of chaos infused with the same carefree “anything goes as long as it’s fun” attitude that made the first album a staple on punk playlists.
“Atmosphere was the number one thing for me driving this song.” – says guitarist/vocalist Jonny Mendoza, who also writes for stage and screen. “I wanted to combine the punk aesthetic with elements of horror and film noir and see what came of it…”
Words by Jonny Mendoza
𝑇𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑠 𝑎 𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦 ℎ𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎 𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑠𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑓𝑒𝑤 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑠.
Condo buildings popping up everywhere. Mom & Pop shops shutting down in favour of chains. Huge financial pressure and shady practices by landlords resulting in great music venues shutting down. (RIP Coalition). It’s a city struggling to maintain its identity.
Despite this, you can still catch a great show every night of the week. Whether it’s a 500-capacity venue like Lee’s Palace or packed smaller venues like the Bovine Sex Club or Sneaky Dee’s. Or at least you could before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, shows have been either cancelled or had their attendance numbers slashed by 80%.
There have been different approaches to dealing with this mess of a virus. Stomp Records had plans to celebrate their 25th anniversary with a concert series highlighting their roster. Instead of cancelling the shows, they’re running the whole thing digitally broadcasting from Drive Studios. You can catch bands like The Anti-Queens, Doghouse Rose or Bike Thiefs without leaving your house.
Keelie has taken the DIY approach. They recorded their newest track “Malady” from their rehearsal space while staying as far away from each other as possible. One of the perks of having a power trio is it fits nicely into a social bubble.
Meanwhile, The Knives recorded a cover of The Bronx’s “Knifeman” without even leaving their houses.
Of course, even as concertgoers find themselves crammed into their apartments with their computers trying not to breathe on each other, they still need new music. Almost as if to spite COVID, Toronto provides. Here’s some of my personal favs:
The Bare Minimum have been dropping singles throughout the year. Their latest, “Party Martyr”, flashes fire like a frenetic keg of gasoline.
Wasting Time have never been shy about wearing their emotions on their sleeve. New single “Runaways” highlights the ups and downs of love and heartbreak.
Gritty punks The Sham have a new politically-driven full-length called Urban Nightmare. It doesn’t get any more real than this.
Don’t be fooled by the title of melodic punkers Hangtime’s new EP Destroy. This one’s as sweet as they come. Grab it from their new label Dental Records.
Tragic Hearts’s calling card has always been their brand of earnest, anthemic pop-punk. There’s no shortage of that on new EP Daylight.
It’s literally impossible for me to do the Toronto scene justice in just one article. Fortunately Duane Timbers of Prior Convictions has done a yeoman’s work and put together four compilations of local talent on his label Lockdown Records. It’s a great way to sample excellent bands like The World Famous Tallboys, ASOP and Hotel Murder. Check it out!
Jonny Mendoza is the founder of Cartridge Heart Records. When not playing with his band The Mendozaz, he writes for stage and screen. He has contributed to music zines Plastic and Wax, Wavelength and Crapnation.