It's easy to take Toronto-based indie rockers The Meligrove Band for granted.
After all, high school friends Mike Small, Jason Nunes and Darcy Rego along with 2009 addition Brian O'Reilly have been making music for 17 years as the Meligrove Band. In that time they've become a sort of security blanket for the scene, a spirited rock 'n' roll constant in an ever-changing music world.
But while Canadian acts like Arcade Fire, Death From Above 1979 and Fucked Up have become international stars, weird twists of fate like their old label V2 collapsing immediately after they released their 2006 masterpiece "Planets Conspire" and tours cancelled because the band caught H1N1 have continually dogged them.
Still they soldier on.
The band recently released their spicy fifth album "Bones Of Things" via We Are Busy Bodies and their 2012 documentary "Ages & Stages: The Story of the Meligrove Band" will be getting a second life via Netflix soon. Oh, and they even released a free retro-8bit iPhone and Android videogame called "Bones of Things: The Meligrove Band Game."
As a means of proving how central to the Canadian music scene The Meligrove Band has been Huffington Post Canada sat down with Small and O'Reilly to discuss how, like a very much unbroken social scene, they're connected to most of the cool indie rock bands in the country.
Death From Above 1979
DFA79's success allowed the Meligroves to continue being a band.
"Seb [Grainger] and Jesse [Keeler] had a hardcore band called Femme Fatale for awhile with our old guitarist Andrew [Scott]. And they recruited Darcy, our drummer, to start playing drums for them," said Small. "And I remember they were planning on doing tours for what was going to be the final Femme Fatale record. Jay and I were looking at each other and going, 'Did Femme Fatale just destroy our band?' And when Death From Above blew up, Femme Fatale ceased playing live and we got our guys back."
"That's Jesse [Stein] and Pietro [Amato]. Jesse lived here for awhile. She was volunteering for Blocks Recording Club. I met her when we played a show with The Carnations," says Small.
"Jesse ended up introducing us to [her brother] Jose Contreras [of By Divine Right]. She dragged him out to a show we were playing and we were kind of like, 'Oh my god! By Divine Right! Record us!'
"The album we made before Planets Conspire was produced by our drummer. Everything sounded good, but the drums were awesome. And we wanted to have really good guitar sounds for our next album. So we were kind of like 'Why don't we get this guy who always has big guitar on his records?' So we asked him..."
"Really I just know him through [Jesse Stein's band] SS Cardiacs. Also, one of the first Final Fantasy shows was with us at Rancho Relaxo [in Toronto]," says Small.
Small actually replaced Pallett in SS Cardiacs for a short time, as well.
Tokyo Police Club
"They introduced themselves to us at the World Electronic Music Festival that one year the fest amazingly decided to have rock bands," says Small.
"That festival was such a disaster... And the rock band stage did about as well as you could imagine in that when we played it was Tokyo Police Club and Magneta Lane, just the seven of them, just hanging out against the mosh pit barricade and when it was their bands playing it was all of us doing that. And that's how we met."
"Their bassist Sandy [Miranda] went to our high school with Jay, Darcy and I. She was one grade below us. She and I were kind of enemies in a way," says Small.
"I was on my high school radio station and there was a bulletin board in the booth. And I found this inkjet printer with a photo of the A-bomb destroying Hiroshima. And this was at a time when everyone in our school were just Green Day maniacs and I was just sick of hearing about them. It was 'Dookie.' Anyway, I just drew these three little stick men in this mushroom cloud and I wrote something like 'The death of Green Day.' Went to class. Came back later... because I was always in that booth so I didn't have to socialize in the cafeteria. And there was this screed in ballpoint pen all over the white space of this piece of paper... So she wrote this screed, 'You can't say that about Green Day. They're the best band in the world. You are such a jerk whoever you are.'
"Anyway, I just saw it and kind of laughed and put on my troll face and went to the computer lab and printed out some other disaster scene, drew three more stick dudes and put it up again and just wrote something like 'Green Day eats it.' Same thing again. Then I kind of gave up, but someone else started replying to her notes... but she made the obvious assumption that it was all me. Anyway, had I said no to playing with Jay and Darcy they were going to ask her to play in the band. She was the next choice."
"One of our first good shows was opening [Joel's old band] Thrush Hermit at the Horseshoe [Tavern, in Toronto]. I'll still run into people today who'll say they were at that show," says Small.
"But the first time we went to Halifax I think MapQuest wasn't a thing yet and we didn't know anybody out there. I would have just turned 22. So somehow I got the idea to email Joel Plaskett and ask him for directions. I really did this. He wrote back this really long, really detailed email giving directions from Toronto to Halifax including how to deal with Montreal, and things like 'you'll see on the map there's this highway through New Brunswick that looks like a shortcut. Don't do it 'cause it's a trucker highway and if you get a flat tire you're stuck.' That's how we got to know him.
"I printed it out. It's like three pages... it's probably still in his top ten weirdest fan emails ever."
"I think we met them at that Osheaga the same summer when we met Tokyo Police Club," says Small. "They were young. They might have still been in high school. Luke [Lalonde] played trombone on stage with us a couple of times.... we did that massive tour with the Ruffians.
By Divine Right
"Jay, Darcy and I went to see them, it was the first time I went to see them with that five or six person lineup," says Small. With Colleen [Hixenbaugh] and [Holy Fuck's] Brian Borcherdt, downstairs at [Toronto's] El Mo.
"Jay and I were also at one of the very first Peaches shows," says Small. "We went to meet some friends of ours and imagine seeing an unknown Peaches in an empty, tiny room, but doing the exact same act pretty much. Leslie Feist was there and Jay just freaked out 'cause she was in By Divine Right.
"Anyway, I think I spent seven weeks playing together with By Divine Right shortly after we finished recording 'Planets Conspire' [with BDR's Jose Contreras as the album's producer]. Darcy's done a little tour with them. It was Brian's last tour. Brian was out, my first show with BDR was their first show without Brian."
Our Lady Peace
"I used to play in a band with Robin [Hatch] called Sports," says Small. "And she plays in Our Lady Peace now. And that's all? I feel there's probably more.
"Oh... I briefly played in a band called The Waking Eyes. Our first very long tour was with them. But then when I was on tour with By Divine Right, The Waking Eyes were the opening band for them. Anyway, their manager was Rob Lanni, whose brother was Arnold. Arnold Lanni was kind of arguably the extra OLP guy, he was their George Martin."
"I found Sheezer their lead guitarist," says Small. "They asked if we knew any women who were guitarists who could handle Weezer and my girlfriend at the time [Alysha Haugen] was a guitar teacher all through high school and had worked in music off and on... she had guitars in her house but didn't want anyone to know she played music. I don't know why. Maybe a shyness thing.
"Anyway, I was kind of like, 'Screw that. You're too good to hide this crap' and I knew she loved Weezer. So I just just told them about her."
"I grew up in Halifax," says O'Reilly, "so you were kind of automatically a fan of every East coast band ever, but Super Friendz... I know it was the same thing with all you guys growing up in high school with the Super Friendz. So separately, at the same time, in different provinces, we all loved the Super Friendz.
"So when I started playing, Charles Austin the bass player had a studio up on the third or fourth floor of the Khyber. That's where 'Down At The Khyber' by Joel Plaskett was recorded. And it was attainable to have a guy in your favourite band record your record. So my first band Their Majesties, which is how I met these guys, opening for them... Meligrove Band came to Halifax years and years and years ago so that's how I knew them and how I replaced Andrew Scott. But every record I recorded in Halifax was in Charles Austin's studio."
"We go way back with those guys. I think they're one year older than Jay, Darcy and I. From Mississauga. I think they formed when they were 14. They were called Pezz forever. We played a bunch of community centre shows with them," says Small.
"I can remember was we were playing a show opening for Sloan at Sheridan College and it would have been right around the time that Between The Bridges came out... Ben [Kowalewicz, Billy Talent's singer] was at that show and saying things like 'I can't believe you got to open for Sloan.' That's amazing. It felt to him at that time it was a fantastic achievement. It felt that way for us, too."
"Rusty Matyas [from The Waking Eyes] he just toured with them," says Small. I was just at, they were in town and it was one of their birthday parties. I don't really know those guys, but I ended up at one of their parties... It was on my way to the house. So I ended up partying with The Sheepdogs."
"Neil [Quinn] used to be in The Golden Dogs. Their first tour out west was with us. That's how I met Neil," says Small. "That tour the Golden Dogs headlined the Thunder Bay show because that's where Dave [Azzolini] and Jess [Grassia] are from.
"It was their first Thunder Bay show ever. All their high school friends came out, all their family came out, their friends came, their cousins. The local opener was called The Fall and I remember telling them, 'Like, you know there's another band called 'The Fall' right?' And they're like, 'Ah whatever, every band name's taken.' 'No, you don't understand. I'm not saying that it's just some dudes in Cleveland...'
"Anyway, they MySpace wall spammed us after that show so I reply-spammed them with the Wikipedia link to 'The Fall.'"