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|Written by Kevin Johns|
|Tuesday, 20 October 2009 08:00|
In March of 2008, when bassist Kevin Simard joined singer Sarah Dalby, guitarist Nathan Tongue, and drummer Stephen Meating to form the rock group Fused, he had no idea that within weeks he would be competing in the finals of Tech Rocks 2008 - a battle of the bands they would go on to win. With the grand prize of studio time, mastering, and duplication, the group recorded and released their debut E.P. Four Mayors of Awesometown, featuring Dalby's distinct and soulful vocals supported by tight rock grooves.
Things continue to move at a fast pace for the band, with new shows, new fans, and new songs developing daily. Simard found some time to put down his bass and talk with (Cult)ure about the fast times in Fused and how the band intends to give rock a facelift.
(Cult)ure: Winning Tech Rocks seems to have really helped launch the band.
Kevin Simard: Definitely. That pretty much started everything. As a band, it was our first show together, and boom we made it to the finals, and then we won. From there we took our winnings and finished our first album. So far the feedback has been extremely positive.
How long had you been working on the material before that first show?
Not very long at all, maybe a month. Sarah and Nathan were playing together just before Stephen and I joined. Some songs were already finished and the rest were a collaborative effort. It wasn't until after we had won the studio time and CD duplication prize that we started creating new material for the album.
Has the song-writing process changed now that you've been together for a while?
Totally. You bring your riff to the jam and play it, or you take someone else's riff home and work on it. In "The best songs seem to happen when you're not expecting it." some cases, like the song "Shame", Nathan busted out that riff, and all of a sudden we all started playing what felt right. Sarah started singing, and it just became a song. I think we are still kind of shocked and amazed about that one. Same thing happened with our song "8 am". It came out of a jam. It started as a basic riff and everything just fell into place. The best songs seem to happen when you're not expecting it. We try to let it come out naturally. The song "Shame" can be downloaded from our website.
Has the band's sound evolved as you've been writing the new material?
Our newer stuff is, by far, better than the original stuff. Our next album is going to be fantastic. At this point, everyone knows each other very well. We give every new idea a chance and provide each other with constructive feedback on how to make the songs better. Our newer songs are bigger and fuller because of it.
A lot of the bands you list as influences on your bio are either '70s classic rockers or early-'90s alternative rock bands. Do you think of your sound as being old school or retro?
I don't think our sound is retro, no. I think the influences are what they are because that's what we grew up with. I don't want to sound like them, but I would like our music to have just as much impact as those bands had on me. Our music will allow you to reacquaint yourself with something truly original.
I think part of what makes Sarah unique is that she is a female singer who sings in a lower range.
Her voice is awesome, and so powerful. Try finding another one like it in Ottawa! You need to see a show to have a full appreciation. She has a range, and knows how to use it.
Do you find the Ottawa music scene supports its homegrown artists?
All bands should be helping each other out. Some bands do and some bands don't. We all have a common goal. Our fans have been very supportive of us at our shows, and we can't thank them enough! Local radio has also been a big driving force for some recent local artists. We will be hitting that market soon.
Your drummer was playing in Newfoundland for a while, wasn't he?
Stephen is a fantastic drummer. He was doing the maritime scene in a Celtic band drumming beats that I could only dream of. That Celtic influence on him just adds another element to the band. A lot of drummers just want to hit everything as loud as they can for as long as they can, but not him. He plays elegantly, and, yeah, when it's time to go nuts, he does it! Blows me away every time.
With winning Tech Rocks and your alignment with Annabelle Cosmetics, you've had a lot of corporate support. Do you think that sort of alliance is important?"Our music will allow you to reacquaint yourself with something truly original."
It definitely helps. You've got to throw yourself everywhere. The more buzz you create, the better it is going to be for the group. I've seen so many bands that, unfortunately, fell under the radar, and I felt so bad for them. You had a million dollar band right there, but no one heard them because they didn't market themselves. So some of these big opportunities, like Annabelle, were huge. Not only were we their feature band for April '09, but they created a little video that featured our song "Alive" to help promote one of their new looks. This was Canada wide! If we can get more corporate support, great!
I think it's part of the reality of the music biz in an age when everything can be downloaded for free.
Speaking of digital downloading, we're going to be on iTunes real soon. It might already be up when this interview surfaces.
For people who want to get their digital music legally!
Exactly. It was easier than you think to set all of the digital stuff up. There is quite a bit that a band can set up on their own. We do still have CDs, though. At our shows, people couldn't believe our CDs were only ten bucks. They said, "You should charge twenty!", and we were like, "No, we're not trying to rip you off. Just enjoy it!"
Are you looking to sign with a label?
If we can do it ourselves, we will. If a label can offer something to us, we'll consider it. It's one of those "What can you offer?" situations. Are we going to be stuck there for ten years? You hear so many horror stories about bands trying to get out of their contracts or getting screwed by their management. It all depends on what the arrangement looks like. Is it just distribution? Is it helping us get bigger gigs? It all depends.
What about touring?
It would be nice to create more buzz before we tour. You can go to almost any bar, but if you don't set the opportunity up properly and can't fill the room, what's the point? We've been concentrating on Ottawa and we have an excellent draw. We are considering the 401 circuit from here to Toronto, but that will depend on the initiatives that we are currently working on.
"If you haven't seen our live show, you have to check it out, because Sarah will blow you away."
Sarah obviously has a dynamic personality on and off the stage. Do you feel like you need to compete with her, or do you just try to blend into the background and let her take the spotlight?
She's great. If you haven't seen our live show, you have to check it out, because she will blow you away. She'll get in your face and do back flips. It's awesome. There is no competition at all and we all rock out. It feels like a team effort every time, and the more crazy it gets, the better. Offstage, she's a really nice girl. She is very easy to talk to, and I encourage everyone to come up and say hello.
What's next for Fused?
We've got a whole bunch of new songs that we are going to unleash on the world. These will start to creep into our live shows, which are also developing daily. There has been talk about a second album, but we are not quite finished promoting this one yet. All reviews to date on Four Mayors of Awesometown have been great. But don't take our word for it! Your readers should join the Facebook group, and see what others are saying. We also have a recent radio interview on our website, where we feature some acoustic tracks, so people can check that out too. Other than that, we are on the hunt for more shows and opportunities.
For more info, videos, and music, check out www.fusedcanada.com