By: Sheena Lyonnais November 11, 2013
Cherie Currie, lead singer of the revolutionary band the Runaways and author of Neon Angel, arguably one of the best music memoirs of our time, tears into Toronto tomorrow with a headlining show at Lee's Palace. Having recently won the Rock Legend Award at the Malibu Music Awards, Currie found herself on stage performing with guitarist Lita Ford for the first time in more than 35 years. The emotions that brought back naturally revved up a desire to reunite the band that brought them together.
By: Sheena Lyonnais August 2, 2013
Sheena Lyonnais September 6, 2012
Craig Stickland first heard the poem when he was stuck in LA traffic, trying not to think about his brother who was over in Libya with the Canadian Navy. The ship his brother arrived on had been fired upon by artillery from the land, and the Stickland family was consequently living in fear. So when he heard Emily Dickinson’s poem, it resonated.
Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the Culprit—Life!
“We were taken back by that poem thought it was beautiful and brilliant,” Stickland tells me over the phone the day after his Farewell Love Songs for Summer show at the Drake. So he did what he does best and turned the poem into a song called “Stirs the Culprit Life,” a song that made the hair on my arms stand when he played it.
Stickland’s ability to tell memorable stories through song is perhaps his greatest asset. I still remember his 2007 Canadian Music Week performance. Then, later, with the now defunct We Are The Take, he began to transform into a showman, something he’s carried through charmingly into his solo work. Though I shouldn’t really say solo, for his performance at the Drake was a nine-piece show that included DeVah, a female sting quartet. They kicked the show off with a Florence and the Machine cover before breaking into an original string track.
It should have been a 10-piece performance, but Stickland’s guitarist was unable to make it. So Stickland did double duty, transitioning between guitars and keys throughout the night. Still, at times nine people crammed on to the tiny Drake Underground stage to deliver a beautiful performance to a pretty packed crowd, especially considering it was a rainy Tuesday night.
He’s an interesting performer to watch on stage in the way he introduces these songs. In one, he explained how sometimes you write songs about someone or something and those things change, but you’re still left with this song as a whole. This song you have created, it remains the same. For Stickland, it becomes obvious that each song is important and impactful, and though this could be said for any songwriter, for him it seems more pertinent. It seems simultaneously fragile and powerful.
His songs are reflective. “The Only Way Is Down,” which he wrote with Justin Nozuka, is a perfect example. It’s about the poor treatment he has witnessed and received as a bartender and server. “When you get to a certain level of wealth or ego you have to come down,” he says.
This very notion of the wealthy and poor is woven quite literally into other tracks, such as “Kings and Beggars,” which he introduced at the Drake as, “not to get too preachy but…” His music, though sweet and romantic, is very much about the working class and his struggles to sustain his music career. And when he’s frustrated, he writes about it. “I’m a happy guy and I need to express my sad moments through song,” he says.
Another track, “See Just Like You Do” was written the day after Jack Layton died. Stickland remembers looking around the city and just seeing nothing but condos.
“It was an introspective day,” he tells me.
When we talk, he’s in Streetsville recording arrangements with James Robertson, keeping in mind pieces for the full 10-piece band. Right now, Stickland has an EP out and is working on a full-length. He’ll be releasing it track by track, each with a complementary music video. He’s already released one for “Fire” and the next will be “The Firing Line.”
Stickland will be performing monthly at the Drake. His next performance is October 10.
Watch the video for “Fire” below.
Sheena Lyonnais is Toronto Music Scene's Editor. Follow her on Twitter @SheenaLyonnais.
By: Sheena Lyonnais
March 20, 2012
“This whole thing has felt like the Hollywood Bromance that Hollywood hasn’t made yet – the professional falling out then the sweet reunion.”
Bill Priddle seems like a really cool guy. He calls me to chat about Treble Charger’s reunion at this week’s Slacker Canadian Music Fest and immediately apologizes for missing our original scheduled time of which he forgot and I forgave. After a decade of prolonged tension between Treble Charger’s two vocalists/guitarists Greig Nori and Priddle, the band is reuniting for two shows: the first at the Phoenix on Wednesday and the second on Saturday at the Royal York as part of the Independent Music Awards, where Treble Charger will be inducted into the 2012 SiriusXM Hall of Fame.
We chat with Tiny Danza about the music, what’s in store for the year and what life’s been like since their Indie Week win
By: Sheena Lyonnais
February 1, 2012
It’s dark and I’m crammed into a back corner with 2/5 members from Toronto’s Tiny Danza. The room is full of, well, seemingly everyone: photographers, pretty girls, hipster boys, sunglasses, non-participating band members. There are cupcakes on the table with the band members’ names and faces on them, a sentiment from a super fan earned after TD’s 2011 Indie Week win. They offer me one nicely and although I admit the cupcakes look delicious, I decline. Eating the faces of people I’m interviewing seems kinda weird. Plus, there’s more important things to do – like talk about Tiny Danza’s whirlwind of a life since winning a trip to Ireland to also play Indie Week there.