Yeah we’re breaking the cardinal rule of putting a number in place of a word. It happened, we like it. We kept it. We’re from all over southern Ontario but tend to simplify things by saying we’re from Toronto.
We like to call ourselves a rock band however our music isn’t always easily definable. We tend to incorporate many of our individual musical tastes into our songs to give it all a slightly more alternative edge. We each have varying musical influences and it’s this musical stew that provides us a unique edge compared to other rock bands in our genre. There are elements of rock, metal, alternative and indie all rolled up into our sound. We’ve been called stoner rock recently and if the shoe fits we’ll wear it though we think that by selecting a sub-genre and self-identifying with it we are limiting our appeal. Time will tell.
WHEN DID THE MAGIC BEGIN?
TWENTY6HUNDRED was officially formed in early 2006, although all of us had been playing in different bands at various times over the years. Mike (lead vocals/guitar) and Randy (drums) have been friends since college, and formerly worked together in Toronto bands: ‘Billy Was Raised By Gophers’, ‘Sneaky Preacher’ and ‘The Mess’. Jim (bass) was also involved in several music projects of his own, and although originally a guitarist, he embraced his new role on bass guitar and brought an exciting flare to the rhythm section. Our newest member and producer of our latest release, Mihai (lead guitar) joined in 2012 bringing with him a different set of musical influences and a plethora of raw production talent that was essential to making our newest album “Electric For All”.
Randy currently plays a six-piece Yamaha Recording Custom with lots of cymbals but has the ability to scale back to Cajon or even Djembe so the band can play unplugged sets.
Mike our singer, plays rhythm guitar. Lately he has been favouring custom guitars from Moniker Guitars out of Austin Texas. Tired of playing someone else’s idea of the perfect guitar Mike claims to have sworn off off-the-shelf guitars for good but still has a soft spot for Gibsons and Epiphones based on his collection.
Jim plays bass and always seems to be on the lookout for additional basses he can love and that compliment his sound. Currently he is playing an 1989 Ibanez EX404… although it’s not a particularly high-end bass, it’s light and it brings the thunder like no other bass he has ever owned. He’s been trying to source a second one for years but they seem to be elusive for one reason or another.
Mihai our lead guitarist and producer always seem to be on the lookout for a new guitar, regularly trading and upgrading his guitar between gigs and rehearsals. It is not uncommon to see Mihai with a different guitar each time we see him. Mihai is a finesse player which compliments Mike’s more aggressive punk flavored style perfectly. Originally hailing from Romania he brings a European flavour to his playing.
WERE YOU ALL SELF-TAUGHT, OR MAGICALLY TRAINED?
We all went to the same musical school figuratively speaking. Self taught musicians spending countless hours listening to records and tapes, rewinding and replaying figuring stuff out as we went along. We earned our chops playing in countless bands over the years. Though some of us have taken formal lessons at times, never to any great degree. It’s just something we’ve always done. Like Jim our bassist says, “I always wanted to play guitar ever since I first listened to the Kiss Alive LP while staring at the cover.” I think it’s also one of the reasons we get along so well. We all play at approximately the same level and continue to learn and grow together musically.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SHOWS
TWENTY6HUNDRED has played at all sizes of venues all over Toronto from Smiling Buddha and Rivoli to Lee’s Palace, the Opera House, and Yonge-Dundas Square. We are also starting to play cities and towns outside Toronto with plans to expand even further to hopefully Provinces, States or even internationally if the opportunities present themselves. Locally, our favourite venues have to be the Rivoli, The Opera House, Lee’s Palace, El Mocambo and Cherry Cola’s from our experience.
Though not in this band, Mike recounts a story of getting lost on the stage at The Opera House when a smoke machine and strobe light went haywire. As a band we’ve all had our own Spinal Tap moments, one of our favourite movies. So far, nothing particularly embarrassing has happened to us yet, but we’re always on the lookout for some shenanigans to blog about. Uncomfortable and embarrassing situations are our favourite; it helps keep you on your toes and prevents the band from taking things for granted. Bring ‘em on. We’ll let you know when calamity strikes. Hopefully we’ll catch it on video and put it on YouTube.
WHO CREATES THE MUSIC?
Regarding the songs, everyone gets an opportunity to comment and contribute to their own elements regardless of who comes up with the initial idea. Our philosophy is that we all have to be happy with what we made when it’s done. Specifically, Mihai and Mike often collaborate together during the initial phase of the creative process coming up with songs, structures and riffs and refining them together before bringing them to the band. Jim tends to work on his own writing songs and then brings in completed tunes or lyrics for recording and performance. As the drummer Randy takes great pride coming up with his parts and never settles for what he perceives as low hanging fruit.
Sometimes to the exasperation of the band Randy will mull over his drum performances for a long time, throw them out and start again, never stopping until he’s satisfied. This is quite the opposite of Mike our lead singer who comes up with his lyrics and song ideas abundantly and quickly with a tendency towards moving on to the next just as quickly. This leaves Mihai in a position with a great deal of material to choose from to refine and produce, all while contributing his own material and helping to refine Mikes and Jims.
At the end of the production of our latest album Electric for All we were so intertwined in each other’s process by the end, we decided to list our tracks as “all songs written and performed by TWENTY6HUNDRED”. It’s just easier that way then trying to figure out who did what.
CAN BANDS FUNCTION TOGETHER CREATIVELY IF THEY DON’T GET ALONG OTHERWISE?
Our band is not without the odd bust-up of course, but there really has never been any lingering animosity in this band. In most of the bands we’ve been in throughout the years they always seemed to be built on friendship first. So, to not get along and to not work at trying to get along better seems counterintuitive to us. It’s like any relationship; they require constant attention and maintenance. One tiny unspoken complaint or concern can snowball into an avalanche of resentment leading to destruction.
Why spend so much time and care building something, to let it get ripped apart by lack of communication or unstated resentment? I guess the short answer would have to be yes groups can exist even when everyone hates each other. Fact is, there are innumerable examples of exactly this. The problem is that they don’t tend to last for long. The energy and fire that creates that creative spark between musicians can be intense, more intense than any traditional relationship. You can easily see how it could shred something beautiful apart, but while it’s together, it can be a thing of remarkable power and beauty.
ARE YOU PLAYING THE FAME GAME?
Wondering if you really mean success? Fame is a bit of a dirty word at the moment and seemingly rightfully so.
Fame these days isn’t based much on talent or skill. It’s manufactured for the most part by an entertainment industry that needs to keep itself alive by any means necessary. If you mean success, for us it would be welcome.