Well the girls are out to bingo, and the boys are gettin stinko
We think no more of Inco, on a Sudbury Saturday Night
Canadian folk legend Stompin Tom Connors immortalized the Northern Ontario city of Sudbury in his 1967 romp about hard living in the mining town and there’s absolutely no reason why garage punk trio Lightmares can’t be the ones to put Sudbury back on the map of musical hotbeds. Hell I’m not sure how they got under my radar – they’re not neophytes – the band formed in 2005 and has a handful of diverse, albeit quality releases to their name, including their most recent 5 song EP – Lizards. Lightmares aptly describe their music as: “Loud as fuck, but always melodic“.
Their sound is all over the place – you can’t pin them down. One minute it’s early bluesy White Stripes (Aquarian Eyes), next there’s some Buffalo Tom-style catchy college pop rock thing happening (Like Dreamers Do), and then they punk right out and sound like the Deadboys (Money Woe) or even Jesus Lizard (Hearsay). What gives? Why aren’t they a household name? Well, it may take the masses some time to come to terms with vocalist Jamie Millard’s insane voice (think Connor Oberst fronting Black Flag) – but hey, that’s what they said about Dylan. It all works for me, that’s for sure and these guys should be at the forefront of any Canadian punk movement – if there is one.
Jamie Millard (vocals, guitar), brother Nicholas Millard (bass) and non-blood related brother Zack Tymchuk (drums).
People say we sound like….
One review said we sounded like ‘The Gun Club meets Pinkerton-era Weezer, or Built To Spill with more fire under their ass.’ Another time we were told that we sounded like ‘Pavement smoked a big bowl of crack’. We do not endorse crack smoking, nor lighting peoples asses on fire.
We are originally from…..
The band was born in Sudbury, Ontario – but Jamie was born in Oshawa, Nicholas in Cambridge and Zack in Marathon.
How did you become Lightmares and what’s with the name?
Jamie heard ‘Family Reunion’ by Blink 182 in the fourth grade, and saved up for a guitar by dressing up as a chicken for 5 bucks an hour. Soon after, Nicholas bought a bass off some guy for $50 he had collected fetching drinks at one of their parents parties. They jammed Nirvana and The Distillers together on a couple of Peavey practice amps. So it was for years until they met Zack (then the new kid in town) and started Lightmares. The name came out of thin air.
What music has had an influence on your sound?
When we started we were big into Nirvana, Weezer, Green Day – big power chords and fat drums, essentially. We still love those bands but we’ve continued along the musical path, our influences expanding to include almost everything we can get our ears on.
Tell us about the scene in Sudbury…
It’s like Ontario’s secret little treasure trove. If you did the math you’d probably see a higher concentration of great bands per capita than anywhere else between here and North Bay.
For years we were running our own all ages venue out of our garage, calling it ‘Millard’s Garage’ where our favourite locals, as well as touring acts passing through the city could perform. Over the years, we had a chance to host the likes of Fucked Up, Attack In Black, Calvin Johnson, Slam Dunk, Yukon Blonde, Shotgun Jimmie… the list goes on and on. These were probably the most formative years for us as a band because it allowed us to put together and play the kinds of shows we wanted to see, and discover bands that we never would have otherwise had the means of hearing.
Tell us about your live show…
Energetic, wild and excruciatingly loud when we can manage it. Sometimes we blow it, but such is the nature of the beast.
How does the city’s musical history, or landscape influence your sound?
Sudbury has always been home to many great bands, as well as an active all ages scene. When we started, it was easy for us to see and perform at these shows, and that gave us a lot of confidence to do what we wanted to do. It’s basically the last stop for touring musicians who are heading westward until Thunder Bay, and a nice stop before Toronto for those coming from the other direction. So it sees a lot more action, show-wise, then one might expect from some crusty little mining town.
What influences the band lyrically?
Jamie writes the lyrics, and is inspired by the kind of lyricists that work outside of the box and use their vocabulary as an instrument – Dylan, Young, Cobain, Nick Cave, Fiona Apple – these types. Not to mention a whole lot of non-musicians. All three of us are big stand up comedy fans. Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Louis CK – these guys are big influences as well. As far as we can see, there isn’t much of a common theme that runs through our music lyrically, but maybe Freud would have a different opinion.
Our most memorable gig ever was….
We terrorized our high school auditorium one year. Painted our faces, dressed up like maniacs and played the worst set we possibly could. The bass amp cut out early in the set, and never came back. There was drinking in the dressing room, sparklers, skateboarding across the stage and a lot of otherwise rowdy behaviour. Bubble solution had accidentally been spilled all over, making the whole thing a serious slipping hazard. The headlining band hated us. We were never asked back.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….
Germany in The 1800’s. People would riot in the streets and have us hanged faster than we could say ‘Ludwig Van’.
Growing up, at home we listened to…..
50’s rock & roll and 80’s metal, with a healthy dose of Steve Earle, Alanis Morrisette, Weird Al and Meatloaf.
What tunes are on heavy rotation for you…
Kanye’s ‘Only One’. Really lovely song, the prettiest he’s ever written. That and Eminem’s ‘The Real Slim Shady’. That track is still as tight and edgy as it ever was, even if the reference to Carson Daily and Fred Durst is a little dated.
If you could open for any band right now who would that be and why?
Neil Young & Crazy Horse simply because there is no better band.
If you could only bring ONE record (you can all answer if you like) in the tour van what would it be?
While we go through different phases with different albums, the record that has probably gotten the most spins in the van is ‘Yeezus’. You just can’t beat ‘Black Skinhead’ with the sub cranked. Luckily, we all dig the same tunes.
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
Jamie attends the occasional poetry reading, Nicholas is a blossoming cartoonist and Zack is an aspiring audio engineer. These are the things that we like to fill our time with. But if you’re looking to find the three of us together, lately we’ve been turning our garage (rehearsal space and recording studio) into a movie theatre and bugging out to Stanley Kubrick films.
The one thing we want you to remember while you’re listening to our music….
That we are in love with what we do, and passionate as can be about music. We leave a piece of ourselves in every song we write and every show we play. We encourage everybody to find out what it is that really gets them going, and never give it up.
What’s up for 2015?
No concrete plans, but inevitably there will be more writing, recording and performing. If we can swing it, we might try to become the biggest and most powerful band in the world, before going out in a burst of easy drugs and fast women – but, we’ll see.