Bend Sinister Gets Down on “Small Fame”- Performance to Prove It
I sat down with Bend Sinister’s vocalist and piano player Daniel Moxon to talk about their spring tour, their new album Small Fame, and Sir Elton John before their show at the Underground Lounge. They are based in Vancouver, and have successfully sold out shows this spring in Toronto. Their sound makes me think if Queen and Billy Joel had a magical music love child, it would be Bend Sinister. So why hasn’t America been winded by Canada’s little rock n roll secret?
Bend Sinister captivates with not only their dynamic sound but with their capturing performance. I saw them perform in a small music joint, but they made me feel as if they were performing for a festival of thousands. Their loud energy and clean sound combined with their love of music brings out the fan in any music junkie. Although they’re from across the northern border, they have a friendly way of making you feel right at home, even if you’re the Chicago native.
Daniel Moxon pulls up a chair in a small pub, Old Style in hand, talking about hitting up the Al’s Beef that’s across the street. He’s only been in Chicago for not even a day, and he fits right in.
We started around the beginning of March, and this tour was just to go down to South by Southwest ,which we are playing for the first time, and so we went down, did like a week and a half of dates down the west coast and then just had a week at South by Southwest, had 5 shows and that was really good. Now we’re just touring back though the U.S. till we hit Canadian Music Week tomorrow for a couple of nights and then tour all the way back up through Canada.
What kind of bands or people influence your music:
I’ve listened to numerous stuff over the years and I’ve been trying to get into more current stuff now. I’ve been a big sort of vinyl collector guy and listen to lots of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s music. In the last record, there’s a lot of influence through bands like Deep Purple. I went through a huge Deep Purple phase where I got obsessed with their keyboards. When I was a lot younger I thought Elton John was just hokey stuff for your parents to listen to and then I actually got all of his early records and some of his stuff that you hadn’t heard on the radio before and even just “Bennie and The Jets”, which is such a classic song. I listen to all sorts of things. We’re trying to get into current bands like White Denim, Deerhoof, and a band from the states called Dr. Dog, and the Dirty Projectors, but they’re not so much influenced in our sound because our sound really stems from piano based songwriters from the 70’s, that sort of vibe. We get a lot of comparisons to Queen, and Supertramp.
How long have you been playing together?:
I started the band when I was in high school, it probably could have been 4 or 5 different bands by now, but I’ve always just kept the band name the same. From 2000 to 2004 it was an instrumental band just playing more math rock, kind of weird instrumental music. Then when I graduated from the University we recorded our first real record with vocals and with pianos because before it was all just guitar-based. That was Through the Broken City in 2005 and that’s when I like to say it became a real band because before that it was just a hobby and fun in the summertime, but I always kept the name the same throughout that whole time. People left the band to go back to University or go to school so I’ve got dentists, lawyers, and doctors that at one point have been in the band and now they’re all my dentists, lawyers and doctors. The current lineup, the drummer (Jason Dana) has been in the band since 2006, the guitar player (Joseph Blood) since 2007, and the bass player (Matt Rhode) has been in the band for 3 or 4 years. This has been the most consistent lineup for 3 or 4 years. We’re all easy to get along with and we like writing together and willing to tour for nothing next to no money at all.
Any expectations for your new album, Small Fame?:
We’re really trying to carve out more of a presence in the US, it’s been our second time down. We just hope to try and keep playing because we have our visas down here and we’re heading back down in april for a week of shows down in Phoenix and playing a bigger festival. We hope to keep building up an audience. Even if you’re playing for the first time in a city, and there’s 10 or 15 people in a club, we have gotten incredibly positive responses from people.
Your band has had some really great music videos, can we anticipate any gems for this album?:
The first one for the record was “Don’t You Know”. That was just shot in our jam space, rocking out on a sunny day. We just released a video for “Black Magic Woman” we did with a 56-piece orchestra. That was a neat change, it’s not playing to the song, it’s just a live take of the song with an orchestra behind us, it’s really a nice change from our usual sound. We have one more video in the works for the last song on the record, “Quest for Love”. It’s going to be shot by our friend who is now a famous porn director in L.A.; he works with this guy named James Dean who is supposedly really well-known in the porn world for looking like James Dean the actor, and he stars in the video. It’s a Mad Max style, desert, crazy video where he sings along and dances in the desert. We should be releasing it in the next coming months.
If you could drink the sweat of any music icon to be just a little bit cooler, and have a little piece of them with you, who would it be?: I’ve always had a soft spot for Nina Simone. I haven’t actually seen any live performances of her but hearing her recordings of her last shows, she’d just go nuts and crazy and she’s one of the better piano players out there that can play and sing so she would be somebody. Or ya know, somebody hot like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga or some cute I girl I guess. It’d rather drink the sweat of a hot girl than a sweaty dude.
If you were to guess who you were reincarnated from before the body you’re in now, and they didn’t have to die before you were born, who would it be?:
Maybe Jerry Garcia from Grateful Dead. I do love his Cherry Garcia Bars (from Ben & Jerry’s). They’re delicious. Or somebody like Nick Drake…or Jon Lord from Deep Purple is pretty epic.
If you’re not afraid of an unhealthy addiction to some catchy music, check out their videos below: