“If The Bicycles have a sound it includes happiness, a little weirdness, catchy melodies, lots of harmonies, lots of parts, very short songs, and a kind of upbeat sloppiness.” (Dana Snell, Drummer for The Bicycles)
I first started hearing about the fun, quirky, and talented The Bicycles of Toronto, Ontario via my musical friend Dan Bryk who was working on a few different tracks they had recorded with him in North Carolina for their current album, maybe now well over 3 years ago. Apparently there have been a lot of big changes for the group since then, including adding new members, going out on tour with UK artist The Boy Least Likely To… among other highlights, such as making a video, working on a tribute album with Andy Kim, various side-projects and so much more…and I was so confused by the email announcement from my friend Maria’s label (Fuzzy Logic Recordings, based out of Toronto as well) for their recent release The Good, The Bad & The Cuddly that I actually thought that this was their first, second album! If that’s even possible!
Photo: Beth Hamill (rockpaperpixels.com)
Let me just say that it’s been a long time coming for this adventuresome group of B-B-Bicycles! I sent off some quick questions to Maria, and soon their talented drummer, Dana Snell, was able to answer the call and pop in for a short bit of interview Q&A…
First of all, I have to ask: who is the talented naked man dancing in the new Bicycles video?
“That young man is named Mateusz Kuiavski, and he’s a friend of the director’s. And, you’ll note, he is wearing pants.”
Tell us a little bit about the history of The Bicycles.
“The band has been together for over 6 years, though not exactly in the form it is now. Matt Beckett and Drew Smith formed The Bicycles in high school, and I used to think the name came from there being two of them, but I overheard Matt in an interview say that it was because ‘music is a vehicle.’ Ah, the things you learn in interviews! Then, about 6 years ago, the two of them wanted to form a full band and I was recruited (my roomate was dating Drew’s roomate) along with bass player Jeff McLarnen, who joined the very day of our first practice, after he and Matt started up a conversation in the halls of OCAD [Ontario College of Art & Design], where they were both studying at the time. Jeff left after a bit and was replaced by Randy Lee, who Matt and Drew knew from High School and who was in a band with them called The Yum Yums. Then we asked multi-instrumentalist Andrew Scott to join us to add some flava. Unfortunately, I don’t remember when this was, but I think it was maybe 4 years ago? Peter Chapman is the newest member, and we asked him to join about 2 months ago. He’s also a multi-instrumentalist and, like Andrew, he plays keys and guitar (Andrew also plays bass and horns).”
Because of the length of time that it took to record their debut, The Bicycles are already well on their way with plenty of new material and another new album in the works, which they will begin recording in Toronto soon with Jose Contreras of the Canadian group By Divine Right. Jose also worked on their debut.
Will there be a Western movie theme for the title of the next CD as well?
“No name as yet, though a few ridiculous ones have been batted around, including The Phoenix and the Crown. Or we could use Hot Dog, which was seriously in the running as the first album’s name. I like Cycles Sirius but I don’t expect that one to stick. Too serious.”
For the next album, can we look forward to more of The Bicycles charming pop sound?
“The main thing that may set this album apart from the first is that the songs are a little sadder, and darker. But sad and dark songs from The Bicycles are still pretty happy. Also, every member of The Bicycles has brought a song forward for consideration, so most likely you will be hearing something from another Bicycles besides Matt and Drew. Of course we are still working on the songs themselves so who knows what the record will be like!”
Many of you may know musician Andy Kim as Montreal’s answer to Neil Diamond, but The Bicycles know him as a peer and as a friend.
How did The Bicycles become involved with the Andy Kim tribute album?
“We asked Andy Kim to play at our CD release party, but he was doing a show in Maine that night, so he asked us to be part of his Christmas fundraising show. We were supposed to do a Bicycles song and a Christmas song, but we sneakily decided to do ‘Jingle Jangle’ instead, because we like that song. It went over really well and he was so excited that we chose to do it that he overlooked the fact that it’s not a Christmas song. Then he called us about this Tribute album, so we recorded ‘Jingle Jangle’ with Jose. I’m not sure who else is on the Tribute album, you’ll have to ask him!”
The Bicycles debut album, “The Good, The Bad & The Cuddly” is available now! Listen to their songs and other assorted tracks here: