Members: Alex Norman Vocals, Guitar, Will Marr Guitar, Swav Pior Drums, Jonny Dee Bass, vocals
Discography: 1Up (2009), All Day With It (2007), Clearly in Another Fine Mess (2006), iLLP (2004)
Thursday is a popular bar night for Western students. For many, it’s the start of the weekend and the time to go out, have a beer and relax. Not many bars—especially ones popular for their dance floor — are known for bringing in outside bands. Canadian band illScarlett will change that Thursday night when they perform at Jim Bob Ray’s. Earlier this week I chatted with lead singer Alex Norman about his thoughts on Western, playing in Japan, and what’s next for illScarlett.
Q. What’s the first thing you think of when you think Western? Any stereotypes come to mind?
I think of the [Purple Spur Society] and then my girlfriend. She went to Western, so I spent some time there. We always have a great time — I mean it’s one of my favourite universities in Canada. The campus is beautiful and it’s a hell of a party town. Excluding the Montreal schools, it’s probably the biggest party university in the country.
Q. You guys often play small shows. Do you prefer playing in more intimate settings to big venues?
There are pros and cons to different shows, of course. The small ones […] are a bit more intimate. You can really interact on a more personal level with your audience. Playing big shows is a lot of fun too, but no matter what it’s always a challenge to keep your live show going.
Q. You played for Western’s O-Week two years ago. What was that experience like?
It was cool. It was kind of weird for us because none of us really went to pursue a post-secondary education. So all these people marching around with uniform colours— it was a bit different for us.
Q. Do you get asked to play a lot of frosh weeks?
We always [get asked to play] a few times every time it comes up. It’s always a fun show to play — everyone’s partying.
Q. What’s the strangest thing a fan of yours has done?
It happened when we were playing our first show in Japan. It was really weird because playing a show in Japan is totally different — the crowds are great but they’re really quiet. In Japanese culture that’s how they show respect — between songs they’re really quiet. Anyways, an American guy in the crowd screamed, “Dude, your band sucks.” I was really taken aback by that. Usually people at our shows are pretty nice. It just caught me off guard.
Q. If you could play alongside any musician, who would it be?
We’ve had the privilege of supporting a lot of great bands—we’ve got to play for Weezer, Blink 182 and Billy Talent.
Another band I would love to play with would probably be Green Day. On our last record we did a song with Kardinal Offishall, which was awesome. He was in the video we made for the song “Milkshakes and Razorblades.” He’s an incredible musician. When we sent him music, he sent it back to us five hours later with it all written, recorded, back-ups produced—everything. He was a real sport. It was kind of a cold day when we shot the video and we had him dressed up in a bear suit but he was totally cool with it.
Q. What’s your favourite song at the moment?
I don’t really listen to the radio very much and I don’t watch music video stations, but the last CD I bought was NWA’s Straight out of Compton. That’s what I’ve been listening to in my car for the last little bit.
Q. What can we expect to see from illScarlett in the near future?
Not much really. We’re just kind of taking it easy right now. Well, not taking it easy but we’re not really going on the road right now. We’re just going to start writing and recording and aim for an early summer/late spring release. Then from there we’ll continue with international touring.
Q. Do you find the more you write and the more you experience, the more your music changes?
Oh yeah. I think we still have our core sound — a little bit of reggae and a little bit of rock. We’re always experimenting with new stuff and seeing what else we can come up with — we keep pushing our musical boundaries and try to make ourselves better and more diverse. We never say, “We want to try and write this song or that song.” We just try to write what sounds good, and sometimes we stumble across a new genre that we’ve never explored before.
illScarlett will be at Jim Bob Ray’s this Thursday, September 23. Jim Bob’s is located at 585 Richmond Street. Tickets are $25. Doors open at 9 p.m.