Kid Sniper

Get set for activation.

It was autumn 1998, Jonathan Bunce watched his coffee flow from the filter to the pot. His old band, math-punk trio Secret Agent, had broken up earlier in the year and all of a sudden one of Toronto’s most prolific musicians found himself without an outlet for a growing backlog of bizarre and catchy songs. He had just finished a 23 (!!!) song home recording, but copying a tape for friends and taking the stage to put on a show are two different birds entirely. A performer like Jonathan can only be happy in front of a crowd. It had begun to snow. It was time to rock. He took his acoustic guitar and Dr. Rhythm beatbox and headed to Holy Joe’s.

Fast forward to 1999. Word got around indie circles that Jonathan was on to something: something a little spooky, something bursting with pop hooks and mathematics. Originally backed by a Toronto indie supergroup comprised of musicians from Neck (Paul Boddum), Decoy (Bruce Lynn), and 4-Star Movie (Steve Shiffman), Kid Sniper has evolved from a collection of homebrewed songs into a fully functioning band featuring Jonathan, Paul, Alex Durlak (The Connoisseurs) and Dean Wales (the drummer from Secret Agent).

By the fall of 1999 Kid Sniper had already recorded a seven song EP, tentatively called Vantage Point, engineereed by Jeff McMurrich (Danko Jones, Deepspace, Rusty, all sorts of jazz) and are currently shopping it to labels. McMurrich did a masterful job on a complicated project. The bed tracks for the songs were recorded in one day on Jonathan’s four track, then the work of overdubbing and remixing was done digitally over the next two months, resulting in a fascinating mix of cozy lo-ti and metallic hi-ti, a spacey sound that would have been impossible to create a decade ago.

Each of Kid Sniper’s songs is distinctly influenced by an odd variety of styles, for instance Jonathan describes “Calista Flockhart” and “Former Child Star” as “dual bass math-pop”, “Activation Sequence” and Urban Renewal” as jagged drone-rock”, “Site-Specific” as “paranoid dub”. “Anyone Who’s Everyone” as “smooth soul” and “Too Cute to Compute” as (and this is my fave description) “hip-hop circus music”. To our untrained ears, I think the songs rock gratuitously like Elvis Costello and the Attractions in their heyday, and leave the listener with a vague and unsettling sense of impending doom. But in a good way. Their live show is at the same time spectacular and engaging – aside from Dean, nobody seems content to play the same instrument for two songs in a row.

Keep your sights aimed on Kid Sniper! They are Toronto’s multi-tasking pioneers of space-age pop.