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- Posted on Aug 10th 2010 2:30PM by Lonny Knapp
It wasn't just the setlist that offered a throwback, though. The Montreal band took the stage as the Stills' recently reformed original lineup and rocked like it was the early 2000s.
Guitarist Greg Paquet, who quit the band before the release of their sophomore album and returned just in time for the band's current tour with Kings of Leon, tells Spinner the reunion "just kind of happened."
"Dave Hamelin (drums and vocals) and I are both gearheads," Paquet explains. "He invited me over to his studio, we started messing around, and we ended up recording some guitar tracks on new Stills material. It just sounded really good."
Breaking out of Montreal's eclectic music scene in the early 2000s, the Stills elicited comparisons to the likes of Interpol and Bloc Party. With the '80s revival in full swing, the band's debut on NYC's Vice Records, 'Logic Will Break Your Heart,' was received favourably by critics and fans and led to extensive tours across North America and Europe. But in 2005, before the band could start work on a follow up, Paquet quit to return to his university studies.
"We had been touring extensively for two years, and I didn't want to go through the process all over again. At that point I just really wanted to finish my degree," he explains.
With Paquet's departure, drummer Dave Hamelin switched to guitar and took up co-frontman duties alongside singer Tim Fletcher. The first record featuring the new lineup, the almost-folksy 'Without Feathers,' owed more to '70s rock than '80s new wave, included Broken Social Scene-style guest turns by the likes of Emily Haines, Jason Collett and Sam Roberts, but lacked the hooks and charm of its predecessor.
"'Without Feathers' was a major shift, and I think they the struggled a bit because people were not ready for the direction the band was going in," Paquet says.
'Oceans will Rise,' the band's third album and first for Canadian indie Arts & Crafts, marked a return to form and won them a Juno Award for 'Alternative Album of the Year' in 2009.
In the years since his departure, Paquet supported the Stills and remained on good terms with his former bandmates. But when they asked him to return to the fold, he didn't take the offer lightly.
"I didn't say 'yes' immediately," he says. "I took a few days to consider it, but I knew all along my answer was going to be yes."
Returning to their original lineup has energized the band, and they've has started tracking songs with producer Dave Newfield (Broken Social Scene, Apostle of Hustle) for an upcoming fourth album.
Outside of Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern, long-time fans applauded the reformation of a classic line up while newer fans complained about the lack of tunes from 'Without Feathers." Paquet admits that some fans are miffed.
"I think some people were sad to see the lineup change again," he says. "But 'Logic' is a special album to a lot of people. The response so far has been positive."
Paquet rejoins the Stills in time for a summer supporting Nashville's Kings of Leon on outdoor festival dates while hosting a series of intimate club gigs in select cities.
During the band's performance in Toronto, the Stills seemed pleased to be playing in the safety of an indoor venue -- an unfortunate pigeon dropping incident sidelined a recent performance in St. Louis -- but for Paquet, the highlight of his second tenure with the band came during an intimate gig at tiny Montreal club Casa del Popolo.
"The place was just packed, and we played songs from each album in succession. We kind of just went through the entire catalogue," he says. "It was one of those nights when the band was really on. It was like magic."