Monday, 18 February 2013

A Beautiful Evolution: Tim Smith & the 444's at Grumpy's

Tim Smith & the 444's at Grumpy's

A Beautiful Evolution | Jessica Dahn

I had the chance to sit down with Montreal’s The 444s before their show at Grumpy’s Pub on Saturday night. Tim Smith, the lead singer, explained to me “We’ve been finding that at all of our shows it doesn’t really matter how many people are in the room, it matters what effect we’re having.... I think at every show we have a positive impact on the room. And that’s what keeps us going. There’s magic here in the band, and when we play together people can feel it.”

That was certainly the case, not only did the room fill with energy when the guys got underway but people seemed to be drawn in by the magic. Within no time the bar was buzzing with people. Their sound is versatile, rooted in rock n’ roll, country, folk and reggae. They’re obviously a talented band that, in my opinion, would appeal to anybody.

Rick Clarke

Each member of the band is individually seasoned but together they form a youthful spiritedness that doesn’t show any sign of relenting.  Nic Power (Electric Guitar and Vocals) and Rick Clarke (Bass, Piano and Vocals) both played together in a previous band called The Revealers, and Mark (Drums and percussion) has worked with some great players around the city.  Rick explained their experience has allowed them to become more comfortable and confident over time. Tim added: “We are always learning together. We have evolved in a beautiful way. It’s a kind of tightness, but also letting ourselves be comfortable getting out of control. Nobody is cracking the whip on each other musically, there is really a liberty for us to expand individually.”

Tim’s previous project, the cleverly titled Tim’s Myth, won a radio prize of $350,000 in the Big Money Shot contest in 2007.  He described the prize as a double edge sword, and unfortunately the band couldn’t handle the pressure that came along with it. He chalks it all up to being an expensive education. Tim took a long period away from music to refocus and figure out which direction he wanted to go, and fortunately music came calling once again.

Nic Power

The 444s are a group with intertwined relationships, and their closeness is not only obvious on-stage but off-stage as well - after hearing the story of their recording process out on Simon Lake, it’s really not that surprising. They talked about their adventure breaking into a cottage, running power to it through extension cords, and carrying all their equipment down Dr. Seuss like stairs over a cliff. They laughed and told me how they really wanted to experiment with this album and things got kind of loopy during their 3-day stay. The result is an 11-track, self-titled album.

What I enjoy most about the bands performance and album is the diversity between each song. They all have varying beats that really keep the vibe up. The 3-part harmony created by Tim, Nic and Rick filled the room and had people dancing wildly around the stage. The album starts off with their very catchy “Daddy’s Girl” and travels through rhythmic and lyrically passionate pieces, including a folky adaption of Silent Night titled “Honey Weed”.  Tim expressed his excitement about the band: “What’s beautiful for me as a songwriter, the sound that we, the four of us, get is always the sound that I had dreamed of for my songs.  It’s just effortless! It seems the right place, the right time, and the right people. Everything everyone does is just perfect for the songs. I always want to stay in this kind of realm of sounds, I got pretty rocking roll in the past but this is really a dream come true for me as far as sound goes…” 

Mark Charbonneau

The future is bright for these guys, over the past two years they’ve been building a buzz and it looks like they’re just about ready to really take off. If you missed them this past weekend, you have another chance, they will be playing at L'Escalier on Friday, March 22nd.
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