On a cold snowy night last December Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet packed up their gear, hauled their instruments and lugged their amplifiers from hometown Toronto to play the by-now-famous Deja Voodoo Bar B Q. The three piece, four year old band obliged RearGarde with a somewhat off the beaten path interview. Don the drummer, Brian the guitarist, and Reid the bassist could seem to agree on a lot—but that just made it all the more fun. Among other things topics of discussions included socks, cats and drywalling.
RearGarde: Why don't you have a vocalist?
Shadowy Bassist: It's not an issue. It's not within our mandate to have a singer.
Shadowy Drummer: It's like asking why we don't have a violinist.
Shadowy Bassist: Why would we, there's no words.
RearGarde: How come there's no words?
Shadowy Bassist: Nobody got around to writing 'em. It's not even an issue. It's the only thing that differs us from let's say Heart. Why don't people go up to them and ask them why do they have singers?
Shadowy Guitarist: This is starting to take an ugly form.
RearGarde: Do you have messages in your music?
Shadowy Drummer: Maybe you should write these questions out an mail them to us.
Shadowy Bassist: I think all of the songs set up their own context in what they're about.
RearGarde: How do you get these messages across without words?
Shadowy Bassist: Rock language.
Shadowy Guitarist: International clichés. I would have said ethnic clichés but someone hit me for saying that earlier.
Shadowy Drummer: We'll leave 'deep' for Bono. There's nothing much deep here.
RearGarde: You have singles out instead of albums. Is there any particular reason for this?
Shadowy Bassist: Four singles.
RearGarde: Why singles? People don't do that much these days.
Shadowy Drummer: That's one good reason to do them.
Shadowy Bassist: They're cheap. A lot of groups won't do singles because marketing-wise it's not as successful as far as getting the big contract
Shadowy Guitarist: But you can't play albums on a jukebox.
Shadowy Bassist: You can buy a single for about two bucks. Beer's three bucks. Cheap, easy to do, fast, small and easy to carry around.
Shadowy Drummer: And they're archaic.
Shadowy Bassist: It's not really a nostalgia thing though.
RearGarde: The packaging on some of them is pretty wild.
Shadowy Bassist: Which one?
RearGarde: Wasn't one of them on a popcorn container?
Shadowy Drummer: There's actually a couple: Popcorn, microwave, tupperware…
RearGarde: So how did that come about?
Shadowy Drummer: I got a microwave for Christmas, and a set of microwave dishes. So we thought as a commentary on the eighties to put our record on a microwave dish.
Shadowy Guitarist: Our single fits perfectly on a top of a Jiffy Pop container. It was made for it.
RearGarde: Let's get into the name of the band—Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. How did that evolve?
Shadowy Bassist: It's like if you like the word 'cobblestones.' It doesn't really lead to anything positive or negative. It's jsut a series of words that we think sound nice and represent us, as far as being an instrumental band.
RearGarde: Would you say you're shadowy people?
Shadowy Bassist: We're obviously shadowy people because we play in a band.
Shadowy Drummer: If we were in a movie, no one would ask why we're called that, so there's no reason why you have to ask us that!
RearGarde: Is it possible to make it in the music business as an instrumental band?
Shadowy Bassist: What do you mean make it?
RearGarde: Make a living at it.
Shadowy Bassist: Make a living at it! That would make it a job! We have no applications.
Shadowy Guitarist: We don't really want to make it in the music business. We just want to do what we're doing; becuase the music business is horrible and slimey.
Shadowy Bassist: It's not a concern, it's not a worry, it hasn't been an obstacle and it's not going to become one.
RearGarde: So what are your goals then?
Shadowy Bassist: Well, we have to get to Ottawa tomorrow. That's a big goal at this point. We play it by ear, there's no master plan.
RearGarde: So you do have other jobs?
Shadowy Bassist: Of course… Jury duty to us is a magical word.
RearGarde: So you like to draw (to guitarist).
Shadowy Bassist: He has to draw cuz we can't. We can't talk at this point either.
RearGarde: Any unusual musical influences?
Shadowy unison: The triangle, God—he looks like this, Cheeseburger platter deluxe and cod—he looks like this… Every year you buy records and they all influence us.
Shadowy Drummer: There's actually about only four bands that influence us that all three of us agree on.
RearGarde: Which ones?
Shadowy Bassist: The Diodes, Bay City Rollers, Uriah Heep and Bobby Cattola (the man who opened city hall).
Shadowy Bassist: It's a mess and basically we're trying to figure out this mess of music. Some would call it the post-modern condition. We call it a bunch of thud.
RearGarde: So you said you have about fifty original songs?
Shadowy Bassist: Yeah, but there's nothing original about them (breaks out into hysterical laughter).
RearGarde: Why's that?
Shadowy Bassist: Cuz they all sound like The Ventures. So we can't give you any answers on what it's about. There's a bit of a mystery to us in some ways and that's a part of coming to see us.
RearGarde: What's your most memorable moment as a band?
Shadowy Bassist: This interview. No doubt about it. Or Johnny Ramone saying "I wanted to see your set but I kept getting mobbed."
RearGarde: Did that really happen?
Shadowy Bassist: He says it did.
Shadowy Drummer: I met Betty White.
RearGarde: How did you find that?
Shadowy Drummer: I made a right at Queen Street and she was just there, at Simpsons. I met Eva Gabor there too.
RearGarde: How would you describe yourselves?
Shadowy Drummer: Reid's about 5'4", has green eyes, curly brown hair. Brian's about 6'2"… has big hair.
RearGarde: Big Hair?
Shadowy Guitarist: Not too big today guys.
Shadowy Bassist: We usually mention my feminine side too.
RearGarde: What about as people?
Shadowy Bassist: Oh, our souls. I grew up in Steinback Manitoba…
Shadowy Drummer: Basically we're cynical bastards who give lousy interviews.
RearGarde: How about as a band?
Shadowy Bassist: Guitar, bass and drums… that;s about it.
Shadowy Drummer: Loud, self-contained.
Shadowy Bassist: That's cuz no one will talk to yuse. Except E.J. (Brulé). He's the only friend we've made on this tour.
RearGarde: What's the band's philosophy?
Shadowy Bassist: Well it's always good to keep a lot of salt in the car because you can get stuck pretty easily. You might not want it on your french fries but it's good to carry those extra packets in case of a road-side emergency.
Shadowy Drummer: We don't have any group idea on how everything in the world goes like many other bands do. We're just three people playing together.
Shadowy Bassist: You can't ask us to entertain you.
Shadowy Drummer: We're hick-rock musicians.
RearGarde: Do you really enjoy playing music?
Shadowy Bassist: Would we be sitting in a smokey church basement, all the way from Toronto if we didn't? We're not doing it to become famous, we're doing it because we like it.
RearGarde: How come you're sitting there with a face that looks like the cat that swallowed the canary? (to guitarist)
Shadowy Guitarist: I'm just pretty proud of this cartoon interview that I did by myself on paper, that you can have, authorized by me, Everything you need to know is here.
RearGarde: Any current projects?
Shadowy Guitarist: We've got an album that's supposed to be released in England on Glass Records, probably within a month or two.
Shadowy Bassist: And some drywalling to do. That's my forté.
Shadowy Guitarist: We're sort of in the middle of making a video for that. I don't that it'll be released in Canada. It's a compilation of singles and everything else we've done.
RearGarde: Do you like recording or playing live better?
Shadowy Bassist: Definitely playing live.
Shadowy Drummer: I like recording.
Shadowy Guitarist: I'm not fond of either.
RearGarde: What was your all time worst gig?
Shadowy Guitarist: It was at a homecoming dance in Guelph, we all got beat up.
RearGarde: Best Gig?
Shadowy Bassist: That was our best gig.
Interview by Sonja Chichak