It was a Tuesday night in downtown Toronto, and I met up with the guys from Toronto via Calgary-based band Inner City Elegance at a Tim Hortons to conduct my first interview. We thought that the Timmies would be too loud to host the interview, so we relocated into their tour van. I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but the guys were super-nice and hilarious. I was excited to learn about who Inner City Elegance really is and what they’re all about.
What is your name and role in the band?
Justin: My name is Justin Parsons and I’m professionally shitty at bass. [laughs]
Spencer: My name is Spencer Kathrens and I am quite excellent at the drums.
Bruno: My name is Bruno Rodrigues and I am the father figure, I drive the kids to shows and practices and make sure they eat well between shows.
Spencer: He totally has a valid Canadian driver’s license. [laughs]
How did you guys form and where did you guys meet?
Justin: I met Spencer in high school in Grade 10, in gym class. We had common disdain for gym class so we’d skip it all the time and eat Twinkies. I met Bruno in college in psychology class, and we both also had a common disdain for psychology so we’d hang out in the cafeteria and talk about how big of losers we are. I introduced the two not long after. We’re total fan girls and we went to a radio station to meet Josh Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age and I invited Bruno and Spencer.
Bruno: Then we went back to his place after the show. We were all walking down the street in Calgary and Spencer was breaking everything for absolutely no reason and I thought that was pretty cool. He had another band but we killed them, with music.
When did you know you wanted to be involved with music as a career?
Spencer: I knew I wanted to be involved with music as a career when my NHL career went into the shitter. I realized I wasn’t good enough to play hockey for a living so I started to play drums and about after a month since I started playing drums I decided that’s what I was going to do for the rest of my life. It was a good move I guess cause I’m still here; haven’t made any money yet, hoping to in the next five years.
Bruno: To me, it’s the only thing that I like to do and the only thing I can see myself doing as a job-cause it’s not. I hate doing everything else, so this is what I do.
Justin: I have a very similar answer I just fucking hate doing everything else. I never had a band before so might as well try your best on the first shot right?
Which bands are your biggest influences when you’re writing and recording?
Spencer: I don’t know… we don’t know… we like lots of bands.
Bruno: Everyone likes a bunch of bands but people try to play music that sounds like what they like whether they do it consciously or not and that’s lame. The original guy is always going to be there and everyone is going to be listening to them so we try to not do that, we try to create our own niche of music.
Justin: I have a hard time to this day deciphering what we sound like and I think everyone that we talk to has trouble with it too.
So since you’re trying to create your own niche in the music business, how would you each describe your own music in one word?
Justin: Too many donuts… and I would say weed.
Spencer: Donut weed rock. There we go we have a genre now, watch out for the local kids to pick up on that one in six to eight months.
What has been your band’s biggest accomplishment to this day?
Spencer: My favourite thing that we’ve done so far is a tie between playing one date of the Warped Tour last year which was a huge thing for me cause I’ve always grown up going to Warped Tour and I’ve been for nine years in a row up to this one. So to be able to play and see from on top of the stage at the other end what I had always seen from the other direction was pretty cool. We also played a show in Hay River last year in the Northwest Territories. It’s a small town, it’s only three or four thousand people but it was one of the coolest shows we ever played. It was packed, we got a great reception and everyone was really cool to us there. That’s probably my favourite thing that was done as a band.
Bruno: I guess moving to Toronto was huge too. We moved last year from Calgary. It was a challenge, we had 1,500 bucks and all the shit we owned. But we made it so fuck you to everyone who said we wouldn’t! We went on tour on the way here and we got to Toronto and we were, you know, how you are after tour. We had the hugest beards and stunk like shit and tried to rent a place. Three dudes, tattooed, one foreigner, it was tough. One day we sat at one subway station and we didn’t say anything for three hours. We couldn’t find a place and thought we should just go back to Calgary but we lied and found a place! We said we had really good high-end jobs.
How was your showcase for Gene Simmons? Were you guys nervous and was it a good experience?
Spencer: We didn’t really know what to think of it. We’ve never really done anything like that before and we didn’t really have any kind of way to prepare for it so we didn’t know what to think. We went into it and we played three songs in front of Gene Simmons and he nodded his head and checked his hair in the mirror and hit on Justin’s mom…
Bruno: And our manager’s girlfriend! Now we know his fake name.
Spencer: The first thing he did when we sat down with him was he pulled out his KISS iPhone case and was like “Yeah, check this out!”
Bruno: I’ve never been to a KISS concert, but he went to my show which is kind of cool.
How would you describe your live shows?
Bruno: Sweaty and bloody.
Spencer: It’ll make your ears bleed at certain venues. It’s high energy and a good time.
What’s your favourite song to play live?
Justin: It used to be “Boil My Blood” but recently “Swearing Like A Sailor” has triumphed that; it’s a fun one for me now.
Spencer: It is right after “Swearing Like A Sailor” where I get to breathe, that part fucking rules. Second place would be “Swearing Like A Sailor”, the actual playing part.
Bruno: To me, same as Justin, “Boil My Blood” used to be my favourite and then “Swearing Like A Sailor”; but, it really hurts me so I don’t know how I’m going to play that every night on tour, but I like it.
If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be and why?
Bruno: Katy Perry! She’s hot as fuck!
Spencer: Yeah, I’ll take Katy Perry. [laughs]
What does 2011 have in store for Inner City Elegance?
Justin: What doesn’t it have in store. We’ve decided to get rid of our house and move into a studio for a month, July, to record.
Spencer: In June we’re going to Hay River and we’re going to tour the Northwest Territories. We’re going there the first and are going to stay there for about five days and then…
Bruno: In July we’re moving into a studio to record a bunch of songs and then we’re going to release three EPs, one after the other I, C and E. It’s going to a bunch of cool things we’re going to do. We’re all from different places; I’m from Brazil, Justin’s from Newfoundland and Spencer’s from Calgary so we’re going to play with that too with the three different albums. Everything just worked out so perfectly.
Spencer: Three pieced bands are the way to go! For any bands that read this; fire your fourth member, you don’t need him! [laughs]
Bruno: In August and September we are going to tour around Canada like crazy animals from west to east.
Is it a headlining tour?
Bruno: We headline a few shows, we are playing mostly all ages shows but we’re going to be playing a few bars as well. At some point we’re going to release a music video this year, and at the end of the year we are planning on going to Brazil and tour there for a month.
Why should someone who’s never heard of your band check you guys out?
Spencer: I think you should listen to us if you’re sick of what’s happening in music right now, if you’re sick of what’s going on on the radio and TV and auto-tune.
Bruno: I think you should listen to us if you’re sick of anything that sucks on the radio right now! If you’re sick of all the fake bullshit that’s being thrown at everyone. We write our own songs, no one tells us what to do and it’s real, it’s really hard to find out there, it’s different; fuck, finally. I’m glad to say it’s us, so you should check it out!
Justin: It’s also sex for your ears, your ears need sex too. We provide it and it’s really cheap.
Bruno: If you’re tired of going to shows and seeing everyone wear the same clothes, same haircut, same fucking guitars and amplifiers and all the bullshit that comes around the music, but they don’t know how to tune them, then you should listen to us.
Spencer: We don’t run tracks behind out music. Some people might hear that and think “I’m watching bands that have pre-recorded things running behind them while they play live”. It’s true, it’s horrible! I’m here cause I want to play music. They are kind of playing music-they’re jamming along with the song.
Bruno: It’s slightly offensive when you go to a show and there’s a band with six members and they need backing tracks for backing vocals or guitar. Someone’s not doing their job. I strongly feel like someone needs to say it, cause it’s bad. Hopefully someone else will give a shit as much as we do.