(By: Sarah Chew)
Canada better make way for the up-and-coming Canadian power pop group, Melbourne the Band. The band was recently constructed this summer, and consists of Elliot Gallagher-Doucette, the lead vocalist, rhythm guitar player and primary songwriter, Michael Callahan, the lead guitar player, Michael Murad, the percussionist, and Ezra Sherman, the bass guitarist and backing vocalist. Despite their short presence in the music scene, Melbourne the Band has already released their first single, “Running Away,” and lyric video, which has garnered hundreds of views on YouTube, and begun playing shows around Toronto.
RUtv News sat down with Elliot Gallagher-Doucette, the frontman of the group, before their recent show at The Cameron House in Toronto to learn more about Melbourne the Band’s history and upcoming projects.
How did you choose the name Melbourne the Band?
We were operating under the name Talking Out Loud and we received advice from our producer that we should look for a new band name that was better suited to our sound. We were driving in our van from Montreal to Toronto after we’d finished a tour in July and looking for a name. We started talking about groups that have names that are names of places or cities. It was Ezra and Michael who together came up with “Melbourne,” and then “the Band” to make it searchable. We thought “Melbourne” sounded cool, and it looked cool on paper, and we plugged it into Instagram and Facebook and nothing came up. So, we got home that day and bought the domain name for our website, which is melbournetheband.ca.
How was the band formed?
I was working with a bunch of different musicians in the summer of 2015, and a bunch of bands that I was in went different ways. I was left to my own devices to write songs without booking any gigs or recording anything. I’d met the guitar player who’s in Melbourne the Band, Michael Callahan, at Hillside Music Festival in Guelph, just in the campgrounds hanging out. [Later,] when I was looking for somebody to jam with I called him up, and we ended up building this catalogue of material. Then, a friend of mine was looking for a band to open up his EP release show in February of 2016. So, we threw the group together on the basis that we were going to play this show with the songs that Mike and I had been working on together in the fall. That group consisted of me, Mike, Michael Murad, who’s our drummer right now, and our good friend, Eric Gibson, who no longer works with us — he’s a wicked bass player though — and that was Talking Out Loud. We played a few shows under that name through the winter and spring of 2016, and then when July rolled around and we were going on tour, we discovered that Eric was not going to be able to join us. He referred us to Ezra, who’s our current bass player. Ezra really started to jive with the group while we were all on the road, so we decided to invite him on full-time and we changed our name. Now we’re here!
What would you say the genre of your music is?
I think there are two categories that we fall under, the first and foremost being that we are a pop/rock band. It’s in the nature of the instrumentation to deliver a rock sound because we’re two guitarists, two vocalists, bass, and drums. But at the same time, the music itself has pop intentions because the songs are heavily rooted in the choruses and we’re always trying to write music that is catchy and fun and that’s going to make people want to jump around. We also fall under the power pop genre, which is akin to Weezer and kind of a cousin of pop punk. There is a certain edge to the music that is not found in traditional pop music, so by saying power pop, we can distinguish ourselves from pop artists like Katy Perry.
What makes you different or unique from other bands?
Even though we’re a relatively new band, we’re all going for something very specific. I think Michael, our drummer, can play all kinds of styles, but he’s worked really hard on his gospel and R&B chops and that really comes through with a driving sound in our rhythm section. Ezra has a really great knowledge of his bass because he’s studying jazz, but at the same time, he’s really into punk music. Mike, our guitar player, can play anything from jazz to bluegrass to the music that we’re making. I’m super interested in narrative lyrics, and the idea of evoking nostalgia, and speaking of a time that’s come and gone. We come from these very different schools of thought, but we’re all able to mesh those together into this pop/rock band. We’re willing to go down that road that’s been travelled before, but put a twist on it by acknowledging that our sound is rooted in the past [and] bring it to this modern manifestation.
What is the story behind “Running Away”?
I was watching True Detective and I was writing this song. I had the melody, and then I thought, you know what? I should write a crime song! I’m really into gangster rap too, so at the time I was consuming a lot of music that was about crime. Although I’m not a cop, nor am I a criminal, this song is about a cop who gets caught on the wrong side of the law, and he has to decide whether or not he’s going to stay and fight for what he believes in, or what he had believed in, before he started committing these crimes, or if he’s just going to pack up and dip because he has no choice, because he’s going to die if he stays to fight.
What feeling do you want it to evoke in listeners?
I always try and evoke a sense of nostalgia. I think that is, for me, the most powerful thing about music, because I think that nostalgia in music can take you back to any moment in your life. You can store these moments in it and then tap into them as soon as you hit play.
What else is Melbourne the Band up to right now?
We’ve been applying for some grants to try and get some cash to continue our studio projects, playing some shows around Toronto, and we’re going to start planning our spring and our winter and booking some shows outside of the city. We’re going back to the studio next week for six days to wrap things up with the songs we have on the go right now.
Speaking as the leader of an up-and-coming band, do you have any advice for musicians at Ryerson on how to make it in the industry?
Go to shows and talk to people. When you pay that $5 to get through the door, you immediately show people that you care about what they’re doing, and if you care about what they’re doing, they’re going to be inclined to care about what you do. Also, have a demo. Whether or not you release it is totally different, [but you need to] have a way of conceptualizing your music to other musicians. So, have a demo, even if it’s low-quality, because it’s going to pay off in the long run.
Last question: do you guys plan on making a music video for “Running Away”?
Umm… *big pause* Not going to answer that.
Ooh! Alright, keeping us in suspense.
Thank you, Elliott! Melbourne the Band return to The Cameron House in Toronto on Dec. 2.