Jamie O’Meara sat down at the Wunderbar, W Hotel Montreal with frontman Karim Terouz and lead guitarist Hubert Tremblay for an intense interview regarding the relevancy of ”Sinners on St-Laurent” which is out today (25th of march 2014) with the local lifestyle and nightvibe!
Read all about it here and pick up the album on ITUNES (finally)
The Rising Few’s eclectic debut captures Plateau vibe
Divers quintet marries folk, blues with artfully constructed melodic rock writing
SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE
Historically, St-Laurent Blvd. has been both beacon and bastion for newcomers in Montreal, the entry port, literally and figuratively, for many an emigrant with hopes and dreams for a new beginning, apparently, that’s still the case. Sort of.
”I came from outside of Canada straight into the sandbox, straight into St-Laurent Blvd.” says Karim Terouz, singer, guitarist and songwriter for rock and pop five-piece The Rising Few, who have just released their debut album, Sinners on St-Laurent.
”Its by far the most interesting street in the Plateau area of Montreal because of all the bars and busboys, barmaids, bouncers and bikers. How can a writer see all these characters…”
And all that potential to get into the best kind of Montreal trouble ”Of Course!” Terouz says with a laugh. ”How could a songwriter_ not want to catalogue that experience iI had after arriving here.”
Terouz, who emigrated from Cairo in 2008 at age 25, fell hard for Montreal,and not just for its allure,but also its promise.And one other thing that might seem head checkingly ludicrous to anyone who’s lived in Plateau-Mont-Royal,Canada’s most populated borough:its privacy.
”Montreal tells you that you can dream,”Terouz says with a passion that infuses all his conversation.”There aren’t a lot of people,you can easily find a job,so you’ve got mo excuse not to start what you want to start.I come from a place where there are 100 million people in the country,25 million in Cairo alone.Good luck finding some privacy to try to get a private thought through your head,y’know?
”But over here,you can grab your guitar,walk around in a banana suit if you want,and nobody’s going to judge you.Yu can do what you want to do.”
Terouz is quick and unequivocal when asked if Montreal has even the teeniest,tiniest smidgen of any thing in common with Cairo.”Nothing whatsoever,”he says with a laugh.
This also applies,he says to Cairo’s nascent independent music scene.
”There’s a music scene in Cairo that started right after the revolution,because after every great demise comes a rebirth of art,but of course it’s Arabic-oriented.I’m someone who grew up with Phil Collins and The Beatles and the Bee-Gees through my parents,so In wanted to write songs in English,and that was not going to happen for me over there.”
It wasn’t long following his arrival that Terouz began immersing himself in the music of his new home in the hopes of assembling a band.Terouz’s search for like-minded musicians took him to ”every open mic possible”,from the Irish pubs to the French bars.But it was three years before I ran into (Rising Few guitarist) Hubert Tremblay.”
Tremblay, a veteran six stringer and in demand hired-gun for the likes of Corneille and Sylvie Desgroseilliers,recalls his first impression of Terouz.
”I thought he had a different voice,” says Tremblay.;;He had something old school and something new school about him.Old school voice,old school way of singing songs,but an urgency and a desire to do something new.”
Indeed,The Rising Few are kind of like a bride on the big day,bringing something old,something new,something borrowed and something blue to the proceedings.And they’ve married into a proud pop music tradition:combining elements of folk and blues,their artfully constructed,narrative-driven,melodic rock writing unabashedly echoes that of inspirations like Bruce Springsteen,Cat Stevens and The Tragically Hip,to name a few.
While writing Sinners on St-Laurent,the band knew that songs like the title track,I Want You Now and Date in Montreal would require a production treatment worthy of their influences.So they recruited internationally renowned producer/mixer Glen Robinson (Dave Grohl,Keith Richards,The Ramones,AC/DC,and on and on)though they explain his evolvement was more of a happy accident.
”It was purely circumstance,” says Tremblay.”We won a band contest,the LME (artist development) show case,and Glen was on of the jury members.We looked at his resume,…”
”And it looked like a Coachella lineup,;;says Terouz.”(Robinson) really gets us.He came to us after the competition and gave us some good advice.He really got where we were going,and not where we were.He brought rawness.He’s such a master and a human.”
Together a year and a half,The Rising Few-completed by Isaac Gesse (trumpet),Harvey Bienaime (drums) and Andrew Sudlow (Bass)-are a diverse group of talents with diverse backgrounds that make for a quintessentially Montreal Mosaic.
”I always dreamed of giving band that represents where you come from,” says Terouz.”You have Hubert who is a native French Quebecer,Andrew who’s an anglophone,I’m the person from the east,Harvey was born in France and Isaac who’s Haitian.That’s basically Montreal!”
With Sinners on St-Laurent,The Rising Few have immersed themselves in the stories of Montreal,and in so doing,are becoming one as well.On the topic of stories,there’s an amusing one behind the video of I Want You Now.
”it’s for every single guy who ever went to a bar and was swept away,head over heels,by the barmaid,”explains Terouz.”Yes,including yours truly.I Want You Now describes a healthy kind of lust,and unlike the movies,it doesn’t end up with the hero going home with the girl…(A female bartender) has likely seen and heard it all,and the best way to grab her attention is probably by being on your best behaviour.”
Or by writing a song about her and asking her to be in the video.
”That is another way!” he says with a laugh.
It’s a sharp entertaining piece of Videography featuring Terouz playing himself and the shall-remain-unnamed bartender (who,it might be noted,bears an uncanny resemblance to Law & Order svu’s Mariska Hargitay) graciously playing her real-life role as the object of his affection.
”She agreed to be in the video”,says grateful Terouz,”and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because of the song,but because we respect each other”.
And it never weirded her out at any point?”
”I m pretty sure it did,” he says,laughing.
Sinners on St-Laurent is on sale Tuesday.The Rising Few will launch the album on April 8 at 8:30 p.m. at Galerie 203,203 Notre-Dame St. W.Tickets are 10$ at the door.