The Organ formed in Vancouver in 2001. They craft morose pop tunes, delicately walking the ling between melancholy melodies and rapturous pop hooks. Most music journalists jump into the name game regarding their references/influences. While they make no bones about the bands that they love (â€œSteven Smithâ€? is a tribute to one Steven Patrick Morrissey), their influences are not as obvious as some would think.
My love of the Organ began in 2003 upon hearing their fantastic e.p, Sinking Hearts. One of the first jobs I tried to tackle upon being brought aboard the Beat Surrender was to get a sit down with these ladies. Like those who have been converted into their ever-growing cult, I wanted to sing their praises and bring more into the cadre. Six months, and a couple of miscommunications later, I finally got that oppurtunity in April.
Backstage in Montreal (where, as an opening act for Stars, they were so well received they played an encore), the Beat talked to the band about the album, their sound, and being on the cusp of stardom.
Has the album come out yet?
Ashley [Webber, Bass]: The e.p, Sinking Hearts, is out, but not the album
Now how was the last tour of the U.K.?
Ashley:Really good. Some towns were better than others. In London and Nottingham, the reception was great.
Shelby [Stocks, Drums]: Amazing. Really great shows. Really great fans.
How did you guys hook up with Chad Kroeger [The Nickelback frontman has a label, 604 Recordings, that is credited with discovering the Organ]?
Ashley:He was really sweet. He put us up in this really fancy hotel. It was surreal. We met him at this club after he played the Horseshoe. He bought us all drinks. He asked us where we were staying, and we were â€œOn friendâ€™s floors.â€? He said, â€œlet me see what I can do for you.â€? He got on his cellphone and made a bunch of calls. He hooked us up at three nights at The Grande Hotel, which is this really nice hotel in Toronto. It was beautiful. It was awesome. It was really sweet and kind of funny.
I think people make too much about the connection. There were other people at
the label who loved us, and championed for us to get on the label. Chad is a
sweet guy. We may not be fans of that type of music, but he has been only great
Iâ€™ve seen the video [for â€œBrotherâ€?] and just saw you guys now. Is it wrong to say the performances are â€œintense?â€?
Ashley:Yeah. We really love playing in front of crowds. We donâ€™t bounce around on stage throughout the whole performance. It is more me to not do that. We see some bands doing that whole thing, and sometimes they take away from it. They are not thinking about what they are doing or playing.
Shelby: We have been told that before. Iâ€™m in the back, so I canâ€™t say one way or another. Not a lot of action
. It doesnâ€™t feel like this boring thing. I love every second we are up there, and I think the fans can feel it, too.
It looks like you guys are angry?
Ashley:Never, Never [laughs]. We look more like we are uncomfortable. I love playing live. We hear that, but it isnâ€™t intentional.
You guys are gaining a lot of popularity in Canada, as is evident by tonightâ€™s encore. At which point do you guys reach a stage where you donâ€™t have to have a day job?
Ashley:I work at a bar full time when I am home. Everybody has a job. When we are on tour, we can pay our rent. We can afford to go on tours. Itâ€™s the whole concept of â€˜will our bosses go on tourâ€™ and â€˜will we have a job when we get back.â€™ It is hard to find a shitty job that you can live with that you wonâ€™t totally hate and get depressed by. My bosses are absolutely amazing. I donâ€™t even know what the hell why they want me [laughs].
Deb [Cohen, Guitar]: That has never happened to us before. It is incredibly flattering. The reception has been amazing all tour, and it is cool for the fans to show that kind of reception to an opening act. About jobs, though, It is really difficult. A couple of the girls, they have been working at their jobs forever and they have really nice bosses. I was working at the same job, but after awhile, my bosses couldnâ€™tâ€™ handle it. Now I just find temporary jobs to hold me over. Really shit jobs.
Not to pry, but where does the money made from this tour go?
Deb: The money we make from these tours pretty much pay for our rent while we are gone. Iâ€™d rather be doing this than some shit job that I hate. I am 24 and I want to do things that I love to do. I think it is pretty rare to get an oppurtunity that we are getting.
When did you record Grab That Gun?
Ashley: We recorded with Kurt Dahl[Drummer/Producer for The New Pornographers]. We kept some of his stuff, and then re-recorded some of the stuff we werenâ€™t happy with. The whole process took about a year.
Now, like a lot of bands, there were a lot of incarnations of the Organ in its infancy. When did you join?
Ashley:I started in the band about six months after the band had actually started. We have been in the band since the beginning. I am actually the last member of the band to join. When you have been in a band for four years, it doesnâ€™t really make a difference at that point. Katie [Sketch, vocals] and Jenny [Smyth, keyboards] have pretty much started the band. I knew guitar, but I didnâ€™t know bass, so the transition was a little funny at first. Some of the early recordings I laugh at it. I I recorded those songs two weeks after I learned them.
Deb: I have been in the band four years
Shelby:I started drumming about four years ago for this band. I hadnâ€™t played any other instrument beforehand. I learned on the job. It came naturally. Two weeks later, I played my first show.
Did you feel there was too much of a polish on a couple of the re-recorded tracks?
We had that problem with Kurt, actually. The production was just so obvious, and we wanted to get rid of it. We tried to make it so it didnâ€™t sound like that, because thatâ€™s not what we are about. We wanted to make it sound like what we do live. We didnâ€™t want it to sound pro-recorded, you know, with no flaws or mistakes.
How do the songs come together? Is there one set way? Is it in rehearsal? Does someone come up with a song and work on it?
Did I just answer my own question?
Ashley:Bascially [laughs]. We basically write in pairs. A couple of us will come down to the space, and show each other what we have been working on. They kind of form that way. Deborah is amazing at the guitar, and it is usually her or Katie that comes up with something, and we write over the top of that, and it eventually happens.
Deb: A lot of times, we put something out there, and maybe Katie doesnâ€™t like it, or someone else in the band doesnâ€™t like. It usually has to be a majority decision, not a unanimous decision. There has been sometimes a good fight and someone gets something they really like into the songs. Katie writes all of the lyrics, and contributes to some of the guitar parts and overall song direction.
Do you worry about the sound being redundant? The only difference between the e.p and the album is production values. Do you guys feel you have a sound?
Deb:I do think we do have a sound. We want to keep it somewhat similar. I like rock music. I want to use my distortion pedal, more [laughs]. Katie is gonna hate that. We want to sound like what our ep sounded like, That is the sound we want.
Now a lot of people have been making reference to The Smiths and The Cure in the music. What influences you on a personal level?
Deb: We all have completely different influences. I love The Ramones, The Libertines. I know some of the girls are really into those bands, but they are. Me personally, they arenâ€™t, but that is fine.
Shelby: 70â€™s punk. Wire. Gang of Four. We understand why people always name those bands. That music is in vogue now, and it is easier to just say, â€œoh, they sound like so and so.â€? The five of us get together and make our music the best way we know how. It is quite honest. I think we are extremely different than what else is out there.
How did you guys end up on the L-Word?
Ashley: Someone asked us, randomly
Katie: Thatâ€™s the million-dollar question. I ran into my friend Jane at a club. And she said â€œmy friend dug the video, and you should totally do it.â€? And I said, â€œreally?â€? and she said â€œtotally.â€? So we did.
Ashley: A friend of mine works at a talent agency, and she recommended us to appear on the L-Word. I was like, ok, whatever. I had never even heard of the L-word. And then all of a sudden we were asked. Thatâ€™s the real story.
Canadaâ€™s version of CMJ [College Music Journal, a highly respected underground music picked your album as the best of last year. Do you think you can have that affect in the U.S. or U.K.?
Ashley: I didnâ€™t know that. Since we donâ€™t have an U.S. or U.K. label, the press is a little weaker. We are doing the U.K. soon. We are excited about
The Organâ€™s full-length debut will finally see release in the UK on August 15h for Mint Records. The Organ are doing a month long trek in the UK to support it, followed by a couple of dates in France (including the La Route Du Rock Festival) Poke your head in and check out one of the five greatest indie bands on both sides of the Atlantic.
Monday, August 1, 2005
Venue: Club NME @ Bierkiller
City: Manchester, UK
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Venue: Club NME @ HQ Club
City: Birmingham, UK
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Venue: Club NME @ Warehouse
City: Leeds, UK
Thursday, August 4, 2005
Venue: Club NME @ Stealth Club
City: Nottingham, UK
Friday, August 5, 2005
Venue: Queens Of Noize Night, Barfly
City: London, UK
Saturday, August 6, 2005
Venue: Club NME @ Underground
City: Stoke, UK
Sunday, August 7, 2005
Venue: Mr. Smith’s
City: Bournemouth, UK
Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Venue: Club Fandango @ Dublin Castle
City: London, UK
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Venue: Portland Arms
City: Cambridge, UK
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Venue: Club Motherfucker @ London Metro
City: London, UK
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Venue: La Route Du Rock Festival
City: St Malo, France
with The Cure and The Ravonettes
Monday, August 15, 2005
Venue: Pop in Gays Night, La Point Ephemere
City: Paris, France