I fell in love with Constantines when I was in university.
When I started my own band, I wanted it to sound like the Cons (well, the Cons-meets-Radiohead), but they were always this other kind of cool. To me, the Cons are an unattainable light of integrity and grit that I never had in my constitution. They didn't need makeup or dance moves. They didn't need stacks of guitar pedals and vocal effects. They were just the real deal shit.
The night I saw them in 2006, at the Marquee in Halifax, I knew forever in that moment that I was going to be in a band. The first six songs off Shine A Light changed a lot for me. I felt like I was a part of something bigger, and to this day their influence is a deep artery that connects many Toronto bands. What's more, their legacy seems only to have grown in the years after they heartbreakingly called it quits.
Lately I've been having these romantic dreams about dying for my city. I've even taken to exclusively wearing my Blue Jays hat on tour. Sadly, when people see it they connect it with one person: Rob Ford.
For those of you who don't live here, you can only imagine how much it hurt when our drug addicted mayor --a man who talks about his wife's vagina like an extra hamburger patty at a back-yard barbecue -- hijacked our city's reputation and occupied international headlines. We have a lot going on here, especially in the arts and specifically in music, but it feels like all that has been sadly and swiftly crushed under the weight of one man's terrible decision making.
We're smart, creative and ambitious and that's how we should be known. We shouldn't be thought of as the city who took down the pride flag. That's not us. It's embarrassing to watch our bike lanes being painted over, and I sure as hell don't ever want to get into another cab in Germany and have the driver point to my hat and say "Crack." Because that's not Toronto. But sadly, these are the things people are saying about us.
There's a lot of great music being made in Toronto and that should be a larger part of the news that illuminates us. I don't want to be defined by late night TV punchlines and trash-talking international headlines any more.
We started Play In School as a way to give back. We love our city and the people here. Toronto has been very, very good to us. We've had the privilege to meet, watch and play with a number of talented and inspiring bands. We were afforded the unique opportunity to play shows as a band in a city that both fostered our growth and shaped our sound. As I look to the next generation, at the kids who will be making the music coming out of Toronto in the years to come, I realize how important music education is. Kids need access to instruments and people who can show them how to play. They need an outlet so they can be creative and explore who they really are. It shouldn't only be the rich kids with their private piano lessons who start bands. It should be the kids who have something different and exciting to say. Something worth believing in.
After talking to a lot of kids via Play In School I'm not worried about what's to come. That is, if "TDSB cuts music funding" isn't our next bad headline. In the end, people will find a way to make their art but we should be here encouraging them, not making it harder.
I don't know what it is. Maybe it was our most recent Play In School, the announcement of the FieldTrip line-up or the fact that the Constantines are finally getting back together and playing shows, but something's got me all revved up about this city. Toronto, the city that I still dream of from hotel rooms all over the world.
Since Mayor Ford has been stripped of virtually all of his power, I thought he may have some time to listen to a fraction of the great music that I think defines Toronto. I want to make a number of these playlists, so if you have suggestions let us know on twitter: @itsthedarcys.
Until then, Mr. Mayor, here's just some of the great music -- better: art -- that Toronto has to offer:
1. National Hum - Constantines
2. I'm Still Your Fag - Broken Social Scene
3. Reservoir - PUP
4. Negative Space - METZ
5. The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead - Owen Pallett
6. Sexy Results - Death From Above 1979
7. Diamond Mine - Blue Rodeo
8. Everyone's A Winner - Meligrove band
9. Chinatown - Do Make Say Think
10. Motorcycle - Weaves
11. Small Town Murder Scene - Fembots
12. Lay Down In The Talk Grass - Timber Timbre
13. Rosey & Grey - Lowest Of The Low
14.Hold On, We're Going Home - Drake
15. 2 Rhapsodies for Piano (Op79) - Glenn Gould
For those interested, you can buy our new (Juno nominated) record Warring here.
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