Posing for photos. With some bands, you might as well be asking them to submit to an intrusive medical examination or to undergo an extensive audit at the hands of the Canada Revenue Agency, but Anemone is not one of those bands.
No, the palpable joie de vivre that tends to emanate from the stage during the Montreal quintet’s buoyant live shows seems to extend to their offstage doings, as well. In town for a Canadian Music Week gig several weeks back, frontwoman/keyboardist Chloé Soldevila and her bandmates were a photographer’s dream, gamely copping a variety of goofy poses at various sites around Dundas West at the behest of Star shooter Carlos Osorio, swapping jokes and chuckling merrily the entire time. No sighs, no scowls. The word “fun” comes up a lot in conversation with Anemone, and Anemone does indeed appear to have fun together.
“That’s what life is about: Just have fun and do your best,” shrugs Soldevila over a beer with guitarist Gabriel Lambert and drummer Miles Dupire-Gagnon after the shoot. “We like that motto.”
“We had this picture taken of us last year and we looked, like, really serious and dark,” recalls Lambert. “And we looked at the picture and it just didn’t work. Who we are and the way the band sounds and what the band is trying to do, it was so not that. We’re very clearly not that vibe.”
Anemone’s vibe is, in case you’ve not figured it out yet, a rather contagiously sunny one.
Article Continued Below
Imagine the most Krautrock-obsessed end of the Stereolab or Broadcast canons sprinkled with hippie dust and shot through with exceedingly retro-tuneful doses of yé-yé and go-go — not to mention sufficient appreciation for psychedelic rock of the droning and jangling varieties that it would take its band name from a Brian Jonestown Massacre song — and you’re getting there.
So solid are Soldevila’s airy songs, recently released to the world at large via Luminelle Recordings on April’s charming Baby Only You & I EP, you won’t even notice you’re watching what could almost be considered a “jam band” in action. But, shhhh: you kind of are. Anemone’s songs can go anywhere and, in performance, often do, branching out and stretching off in entirely unpredictable and hypnotic directions.
“We get really zoned out,” concedes Soldevila, who began Anemone on her own a couple of years ago but quickly realized she needed a band to bring her songs, and subsequently convinced Dupire-Gagnon and Lambert to strike up a new project in addition to their day jobs in shaggy Montreal psych outfit Elephant Stone.
“Basically, in probably our first year of shows, none of the songs had endings and they were all jams and at the end of every song we’d jam for, like, four minutes and we never knew how to end because it felt really good,” says Lambert. “So those were our first shows. There were no endings. None of the songs.”
“I loved it,” laughs Dupire-Gagnon. “We’d just finish. ‘Whatever. We’ll finish when we finish.’ There’s lots of layers and that’s what’s making, I think, the LP really hard to mix and that’s what’s taking such a long time but everything was always there. There’s a vibe.”
The musicians of Anemone, from left, Zachary Irving, Miles Dupire, Chloe Soldevila, Gabriel Lambert and Samuel Gemme, gamely posed for us in a Toronto laundromat. (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star)
Yes, a full-length more representative of the Anemone of today than the tightly scripted Baby Only You & I EP is on the way by year’s end. First, there’s a lot more gigging, including a show this Thursday at the Horseshoe Tavern.
Then it’s a matter of taking that smashing live show — which proved quite a hit in Austin in March while the band was making the rounds at South by Southwest for the first time — to as many people as possible throughout the summer, with numerous festival gigs at events including Guelph’s Hillside Festival on July 14, and Sudbury’s River & Sky fest on July 21.
Article Continued Below
Anemone just wants to play and play and play, which is probably why Anemone is growing and improving as a unit at such an impressive rate. This is still a relatively new project. There’s really no telling where it will yet go.
“I had a good idea, but it ended up not being what I had in mind, anyways, because you don’t really choose how people play, you know?” says Soldevila. “It really became its own thing with the uniqueness of all the members.”
“What I really like about this project, personally, and the live shows — and, actually, the record that’s going to come out has a bit of that live aspect — is I find it’s always a bit different,” offers Dupire-Gagnon. “We can jam and the songs are kind of open and we just do whatever we want, and I love that sh-.”
“It’s also, I think, a balance. There are a lot of songs that are really catchy and really good and then we have some legroom to improvise and stretch out,” adds Lambert. “If it was, like, a jam band with no songs, then it would get aimless and boring, but in the context that it stands, we have that open field to do it.”
“We’re not afraid of being ourselves,” says Soldevila. “We’re not afraid of what other people think so we just really want to do what we want.”
“I think every good band is a bit like that,” affirms Dupire-Gagnon. “You can feel their personality. They’re just being themselves. When you feel like it’s fake, it doesn’t work.”
Ben Rayner is the Star’s music critic and based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @ihateBenRayner
Powered by WPeMatico