The Almighty Rhombus: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Rollicking indie pop with hooks seemingly lifted from the years between 1989 and 1997. Great stuff!!
File next to: Local Rabbits, Tokyo Police Club, the Boo Radleys
Playing: WL 622, Saturday October 11 at Handlebar (159 Augusta Avenue)

Sudbury tends to be known for large nickels and wolves, but if you peel back the layers, you’ll find a small but dedicated music scene, writing tunes and playing shows amid the lakes and soot. The Almighty Rhombus are one such band, a snappy outfit that play slightly gritty music, infused with lots of hooks and heart. The band release the snappy Lucid Living album last fall and will be joining us southerners for a show this Saturday. We caught up with Clayton Drake from the band to talk about small towns, big cities, and the ingredients that have fed into his band’s sound.

You guys are from Sudbury. How inviting has Toronto been to you during past visits?

We’ve been very fortunate to have played some great shows in Toronto recently. So far, our favourite was the Public Animal LP release at the Bovine. Ian Blurton did a guitar solo on top of the bar while doing a shot of J√§germeister, and the singer from Single Mothers spit on the audience. That show was absolute mayhem.

Where do you and your bandmates stay while in our fair city?

Our friend Jordan from the band Blonde Elvis puts us up pretty regularly, but we tend to fly by the seat of our pants, as we usually like to party after the show is done. Usually, someone offers to put us up! We go where the beers are.

What are some of your favourite Toronto hangouts when you’re in town?

Some of our favourite places in Toronto are Get Well (although the control for the Frogger machine was broken the last time we were there), Sneaky Dee’s (for late night nachos, though I’ve found the nachos haven’t been as good lately), Long & McQuade, Chito’s Pizza (they put a bunch of shawarma meat, garlic sauce and hot sauce on your pizza!). If someone can recommend a good late-night karaoke bar to take us to after the show, we’re 100% down.

Your band is known for its indie/power-pop sensibilities. Have all your band members always been on the same page in terms of styles, influences?

For me, my earliest musical experiences with music were with pop music. I’m a bit older than the rest of the band, and my childhood was pre-Internet. I grew up listening exclusively to Top 40 radio, so I think, at my core, I worship pop hooks. I still listen to Top 40 regularly. That’s what drew me to playing with our singer Michael; his strong melodies, and our songs are mostly about trying to return to the hook as much as possible in inventive ways. Having said that, I have been playing in a prog band called the Birthday Cakes with two of the founding members of the Almighty Rhombus for the past six years: my brothers Cameron (guitar) and Carter (drums). We all love the music of ELP, Gentle Giant, early Genesis, etc. Cam has since left Rhombus to pursue a career as an electrician, but we try to bring the same attention to detail and precise arrangements to our brand of pop music. We approach it as if we were a prog band!

Are there any non-obvious influences the casual listener might not pick up on?

People might be surprised to learn our singer Michael loves Queens of the Stone Age, but you can hear a similarity to Josh Homme in the way he sings. Really, we listen to all kinds of different music, and as we work on new material with our new members, you’ll probably hear the sound of the band change a bit. One thing will never change though: melody will always be the centrepiece of this band.

Who have been some of your favourite bands you’ve shared stages with, and which did you find you clicked the most with, in terms of personal or musical chemistry (or both)?

The Almighty Rhombus been VERY fortunate to play with some amazing bands. Two recent standouts for me have been Public Animal and TV Freaks. We have a bunch of bands that we’ve clicked with on a personal and musical level as well over the past couple of years: our friends Coyote from PEI, Oh Geronimo and Big Lonely from London (there are a BUNCH of bands we’re friends with in London), Rival Boys, the Kerouacs and Low Animal from St. Catharines, BA Johnston, Dany Laj & the Looks, and the Wolfshirt crew/We Were Heads. Recently, Hollerado has also been a tremendous help to us.

What else is happening in Sudbury at the moment?

Sudbury has an amazing music scene. Sadly, two of our finest local bands called it quits this past August: Coast Redwood and Geyser. However, there are a ton of cool bands cropping up all the time. There’s only one place for rock bands to play in Sudbury. That’s the Townehouse Tavern, but it’s one of the best live music venues in the country.

Interested in giving any shout-outs to any other Sudbury bands?

Traditionally, it’s been difficult for bands to get out of Sudbury due to its remoteness, but hopefully you’ll be hearing about the following bands over the next year as they find their footing: Garden Cove, Hello Holiday, Echoes the Lion, Howie Moonlight, Swan Song, Magic Pelvis, and Lanorme. Bar none, the most popular current bands in Sudbury are Strange Attractor, Pistol George Warren and Murder Murder.

Final thoughts? Threats? Sign-offs?

Apart from [the Wavelength show], we’re currently working on getting the next edition of the Big Basement Show up and running for May. It’s gonna be hard to top last year’s edition, but we have some ideas to make it even better.

The Almighty Rhombus play Saturday, October 11th at Handlebar (159 Augusta Avenue).

– Interview by Cam Gordon (Completely Ignored)