Todd Duym Vancouver-based dance-punk outfit You Say Party have officially…
- Posted on Sep 28th 2012 2:30PM by Ian Gormely
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The band's new MO is certainly warranted. After a trying year that saw the group's drummer Devon Clifford collapse on stage from what would prove to be a fatal brain hemorrhage, lose keyboardist Krista Loewen, drop the "You Say Die" half of their original You Say Party! We Say Die! name, and soldier on with friends Al Boyle and Rob Andow augmenting the remaining trio, You Say Party went on "indefinite hiatus" last April.
However, they were coaxed out of retirement when Paper Bag Records co-founder Trevor Larocque asked them to take part in the Toronto-based label's tenth anniversary celebrations this Saturday at the Great Hall in Toronto.
"He always knew 10 years was coming," says O'Shea. "He kind of put it in my ear."
A more formal offer came at the end of last year.
"I let Krista and Becky know [Ninkovic]," he says. "[They] were the ones who had moved the most on."
After Clifford's passing, the band had what O'Shea describes as a "heavy" band meeting to talk You Say Party's future.
"I think the male response to grief is 'We've got to work harder than ever.'" As such, O'Shea and guitarist Derek Adam were the most gung-ho about soldiering on. Loewen preferred to slow things down to a more manageable pace, leaving Ninkovic to decide the group's fate. Ultimately she sided with O'Shea and Adam, while Loewen left, giving the trio her blessing.
"Becky probably ignored her own response," says O'Shea. "She felt she needed to support Derek and I through our grief and ignored her own."
Ninkovic and Loewen had a heart-to-heart on the phone in December, both admitting they missed playing live together. At a band dinner on January 4, paid for with the final couple hundred bucks left of the band's funds, they announced their decision. "[They] said, 'We're gonna hit the reset button.'"
That decision kicked off rehearsals that found the reunited group jamming in a basement once a week for nine months straight leading up to Saturday night's show. Unsurprisingly, the quartet managed to write and record a pair of new tunes during this period. And while they had hoped to have the new recordings ready in time for the gig, fans can expect to hear them during You Say Party's set.
"This is the new You Say Party that doesn't rush," says O'Shea.
He describes the new tracks as "the next logical step" after the group's last album, XXXX.
"Something that has been criminally overlooked, if you go into the songwriting and just look at the lyrical content, there's a huge emotional angle that Becky writes from," he says. "The emotional impact of those songs is where we started from on the new songs."
Fans can expect that new sound to permeate older material live as You Say Party have opted not to find a new drummer, instead sticking with a drum machine.
"We are honoring the space that Devon left," says O'Shea. "But the other reason is that our hearing is shot, really badly. Becky's about as tall as a cymbal stand and she stands right in front of the drums. So her nerves... it needs to be quieter."
For now, O'Shea says there are no plans -- short or long term -- to put together another album. ("I don't know how important full-length records are anymore") And while more shows are in the works, he says not to expect sprawling, multi-week coast-to-coast tours. With Ninkovic pregnant (The baby's due in December. O'Shea, her husband, is the father) it's clear the band have higher priorities these days than just rock 'n' roll.
"I can't believe I got my three best friends together in a room again and we're playing music," says O'Shea. "We weathered through a lot of tough stuff.
"For me, this is gravy."