Sick Things Rock Out and Embrace the Mythology of Power-Pop in "Sick Thing"
The Montreal rock and rollers have a video and song for the kid in all of us, so we talked to them about 'Almost Famous' and watching Quebecois men flying on jetpacks.
At its core, rock and roll has always been about mixing an attitude with a sound. The swagger of the vocalist strutting around the stage or the guitar player wielding his instrument like a battle axe has become the stuff of myth. While this myth has given way to many clichés and examples of human excess at its worst, it has also provided an escape from the soul-destroying nature of daily life. The sound of loud guitars and thundering drums act as a sort of catharsis. Montreal power-pop quartet The Sick Things understand the genre’s dual nature, and embrace it on their song “Sick Thing” off their debut album Sick Things. In case you were wondering, no, there is nothing more rock and roll than naming both an album and a song off that same album after your band.
The video and the song itself work together to form a temporal juxtaposition between different periods in a musician’s life. Scenes of a kid barely into his teens trying to amuse himself in his parent’s basement clash perfectly against scenes of the band rocking out as adults. The intertwining solos of guitar players Keith Lewtas and Cam Turin both boost Turin’s energetic lead vocals while Matt Gonzalez’s pounding drums and Patrick Bennet’s straight-to the point basslines help drive the Thin Lizzy-ish, full throttle nature of the song home. It is... well, it's pretty sick, is all we'll say. You can watch the video for "Sick Thing" below and check out our interview with the band.
Noisey: What exactly is going on in the video?
Sick Things: The idea was to portray a lonely kid, played by Markus Edwards, the nephew pf the director, who just day dreams of being in a band, kind of hiding away in the basement. We play the band in his head. I think anyone who plays in a band will admit that at some point in their lives they would fantasize about being on a stage one day. It's a tad autobiographical in that sense.
So, it’s basically Almost Famous?
When I was a teenager, my friends would compare Frances McDormand's character to my mom. The whole single mother-overly cautious, "don't take drugs" thing. I definitely identified with the music nerd loner character played by Patrick Fuget. Seems to be an attraction for us in our music, thematically speaking.
The song is so different from what most indie bands are doing these days. What inspired the pure, rock and roll vibe of the song?
We really wanted a song on the record that would make you sing our band name in the chorus. That, and we just write and play music that sounds like that because of the music we like to listen to. If the four of us got on stage and tried to mimic other, more common bands, it would come off as disingenuous. This is just the most honest presentation of ourselves.
Are guitar solos making a comeback?
God, I hope so. I don't know how to play any other instruments, so this is my only way to shine. I'm pretty happy that the punk thing to do now is to write guitar-centric pop music though.
What is the power pop scene like in Montreal these days?
There are a good crop of bands here, but I'd say its still in its infancy. The term power pop still has a lot of well informed music enthusiasts scratching their heads, so to say we have a scene is a bit of a stretch. We do however have one of the most encouraging and evolving independent music communities, so we feel very at home here doing what we're doing. Montreal has a great punk and garage rock history, too, which helps keep the embers hot even as trends change.
Lastly, given your band name, what's the sickest thing you've ever seen?
I once saw a man flying through the sky on one of the backpack fans with a glider thing attached to him. I was in a rural part of Quebec, about three hours from Montreal with some friends, high on mushrooms. We heard this weird droning noise and looked up, and saw this man flying through the sky like a b-grade Rocketeer. We screamed laughing, and he waved to us.
Daniel is on Twitter.