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Music

November 8, 2009

One Line Connects to Many Roads

roads shot

Do you believe in coincidences? Is there such a thing as “meant to be”? What about luck? Can your dreams finally become a reality? Maybe Roads can make you start dreaming again.

I was at a rock concert with some friends, anxiously waiting for the show to start. Finally, the opening band came on. As they started to sing, my friends and I were looking at each other, wondering if we were at the right event. The music we were hearing was too soft to be rock. My entourage started joking around calling them the “silent rock band”, but by the end of the first song, everyone’s opinions had changed. The jokes became positive comments about the music: how beautiful the girl’s voice was, how nice the mix of male and female vocals sounded, how enjoyable the music was and how AWESOME that the drummer was a girl! Before we knew it, we were liking what we were hearing and we were captivated by the melodies and the voices.

The band was called Roads and I just HAD to introduce them to the rest of the world… so let me pave the way to ROADS.

A few weeks after the concert, I contacted Garen, the male vocalist from the band, and he accepted to make time in his busy schedule for an interview. The members of the band are Garen (vocals and acoustic), Alfred (guitar), Iris (vocals and drums), and Adam (guitar).

We met at a coffee shop downtown and did not feel the time fly by. Garen spoke about the band members, how it all began, the challenges, and the good times of Roads.

roads shot

Why the name “Roads”?

We started with the subject of the band’s name. As Garen said, coming up with the band’s name was very difficult. They each had different ideas and suggestions and could not agree on something they all liked. When they finally came up with Roads, they found that it best described “the path of coincidental events” that had brought them all together. “Roads reflects that one line connects to many roads to get to where you got to be, and at the end, you always end up at the right destination”, he added. Some of the coincidences he is referring to are how they all met, how the band came together, how people developed an interest for their songs, and how the plans they had dreamt about were suddenly becoming a reality.

How did it all start?

When asked about how he met the other members, Garen started laughing as he remembered how he met Alfred. The two first met at a birthday party in a Ronald McDonald trailer. “We were all sitting down when this kid shows up with his Michael Jackson zipper jacket and white gloves [and I don’t remember what song it was] and he starts doing his show. I was six or seven years old and I remember saying I hate this kid.” They went to the same school until they were twelve. They met again in a club after more than ten years and Alfred mentioned that he was looking for a bassist for his band. Garen wasn’t interested at the time because he was playing guitar. In a span of three months, they coincidentally met a few times and Alfred finally told Garen that he would teach him bass so they could play together. Garen says they’ve been playing together ever since: “he’s my best friend, he’s the brother I never had…” As far as Alfred’s background goes, he has been playing guitar since he was very young.

Five years ago at the time of this interview, Garen was the singer of a French punk band and he realized how much he missed playing bass. When he started his search on the Montreal Music Scene website for a change of bands, he found a group looking for a bassist. He auditioned and then got to work on some material with the band. Even though it didn’t work out with the band, the consequences played in his favor as he met Iris, who was a current member of the group. The two started working closely together: “we would write songs together and she would harmonize. She has a beautiful voice.” They started looking for members to start a band and Alfred was the first to try out, even though he was hesitant to join, thinking it would not be his type of music. “We auditioned Alfred, giving him a recording to work with, the contents being me singing in a two dollar microphone and Iris playing percussion on the back of the guitar. We went to McDonalds and came back to hear what Alfred had composed. When he played the solo, Iris and I were speechless. That moment was Flicker, we knew he was the guy and that’s how flicker started”. Flicker was their former band name.

After a few moments of reminiscing, he introduced Adam. Although he was a classically trained guitarist, Adam first joined the band as a conga player and keyboardist; “he’s THAT talented”, commented Garen. It wasn’t long after the album was finished, that the band realized the necessity of having three guitars on stage. From there, the decision was quite obvious: it was time to let Adam’s guitar playing skills shine through. Garen then added, “we were fools for not having put to use his greatest gift for so long; he is the most talented member as far as musical and technical knowledge goes”.  Almost like the last piece of a puzzle, Adam has recently come to complete the Roads family.

As for Garen: “I found unhappiness trying to conform to what society thinks you should be. One day I just decided to go for it”. He has been an industrial technician, an electrician, robotics expert, customer service representative for some large corporations… “It just wasn’t my thing, it wasn’t creative”. Then he co-founded www.montrealmusicscene.com, started planning music shows, wrote reviews for bands, wrote for a men’s magazine and all the while singing in a French punk band. He finally quit everything, built a home studio, wrote songs, recorded and took all the chances he got because at that point he had nothing to lose.

“Those are some of the coincidences that were so eerie. If you were an atheist, you would start believing in the powers of the universe and destiny, and that many roads lead to where we are supposed to be”.

Even though he considers himself to be quite the opposite, Garen has a strong sense of optimism. I had forgotten that people like him still existed. “When you start believing in something, the universe starts working in your favor… so many great people are coming our way. The universe is sending them to us, by our demand.”

 How do you categorize your music?

He described their music as lyrically honest.  “We don’t try to be something we are not; our lyrics are straight forward”. It is very important for them to have songs that send out a message; “I like to attack topics that piss me off and that piss people off”, he states.

As I was writing this article, I asked around to see what people thought about the music. Here are some of the comments I received: easy to listen to, catchy, simple, comes from the heart, soothing voices…

What are your musical influences?

The ultimate lyricist for him is Bob Marley. In his opinion, Bob Marley’s songs were written in a very clear and polished format. “Music should be a medium and Bob Marley could give out the messages and keep the truth in the music”.

As for other influences, “we have too many to simply mention a couple”, he said. Each person is distinctively influenced by music, events and life experiences. If we take a closer look, Adam’s love for music started with punk and then turned towards jazz. Iris enjoys all great music; anything from Aerosmith to Queen and the Beatles. Alfred is devoted to rock. “And me… I just listen to the universe and appreciate whatever it may bring to my attention.”

Who writes the songs?

 Garen writes the foundation of the songs (lyrics and melody) and then final touches are added by the band.

What are the band’s immediate goals?

 If you play keyboards this might be your calling! The band is looking for a keyboardist.

Another one of their immediate goals is to work on their live performances: booking more shows and gaining experience. They are working on the marketing and networking, trying to get their name recognized and their songs heard, as well as expanding their fan base. Last but not least (and the most exciting) they are finalizing their record for release.

What are the band’s long-term goals?

“Being able to drop everything else and just concentrate on music, evolve musically, promote the band as much as possible and inspire as many people as possible. 

What is the biggest challenge for a band?

“That’s a loooong answer!” Garen said. “Everyday is a challenge”. The music business requires a lot of time and money and usually takes a while before it picks up. “Writing music that you love, the others members of the band will love, the fans will love, and you will continue to love after you’re done writing it, motivating your band members”. “You have to be ready to eat a lot of dirt and criticism” from your friends and family who think that you should do something else”. I totally sympathized with what he was saying. As soon as my mom heard that I was seriously thinking of pursuing my singing, she told me “how many people do you know who have graduated from a music program and are actually making money?”

Then he jokingly says finding musicians who play the keyboard. 

A Lot of Bands Break Up…

A lot of bands break up after coming face to face with the challenges of a musical career. Is that something you worry about with your band members? Garen answered this question with great ease. He said: “There is a big difference between a band and Roads… we are not a band. Iris is my sister and Alfred is my brother. Together, we’ve all been through troubles that the closest of friends don’t go through. We have found a way to work out beyond remaining friends and loving each other even after breaking up. The love that we have together, that bond, as dysfunctional as we are, we are family and you can’t break up a family”.

I thought that was the nicest answer anyone could have come up with.

Any Advice?

The advice Garen had for individuals who are thinking about starting a band or pursuing a career in music was “always do what you love. Do what you really are inside, be as real as possible. You can’t try to be someone else.” He then continued by saying that the only way to really connect with the fans and getting your message across is by being honest.

 How to Keep Track of Roads?

To keep track of Roads and listen to a sample of their music, go to www.roadsband.com, visit their myspace page (www.myspace.com/roadsofficial), or give them a tweet (www.twitter.com/roadsband).

By the end of the interview, the conversation had turned towards me and he was giving tips and advice about going after my dreams and not giving up. If you ever get the chance to attend one of their shows, make sure to stop and give them a little shout. Though I only got the chance to meet Garen, they are all very talented and interesting individuals who have a lot to share.

My message to all you readers:  just continue to dream and believe… they didn’t give up and they are receiving everything they asked for. Did you start following your dreams yet?



About the Author

clé de sol





 
 

 
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