It’s not an uncommon band origin story. A group of best friends, buoyed by their love of music, decide to start a group together in hopes of sharing their talents with the world. The interesting thing about Motorists is the three best pals involved decided to start the band after knowing each other for fifteen years. Regardless what time in their lives they decided to get together, the three friends that make up the band, vocalist/guitar player Craig Fahner, bassist Matt Learoyd and drummer Jesse Locke, have come together to craft some pretty perfect pop songs, all slightly tinged with tension that we feel in this modern age.
Their debut album, Surrounded out now via We Are Time, Bobo Integral and Debt Offensive, is a stunning effort that captures the raw emotion of the isolation of the world we find ourselves living in. Through their use of pitch perfect harmonies, motorik drum beats and ripping guitar solos, Surrounded is a great new addition to the pantheon of classic Canadian pop.
“We’ve known each other for about fifteen years”, explains Fahner when we reach all the band members from their respective homes in Vancouver and Toronto. “I was playing in bands with Jesse when we were in high school, Matt had gone on tour with Jesse and then I moved to Toronto in 2018 and we found ourselves living in the same city for the first time in as many years. I had this band name, and it was like a good band name,” Fahner says with a chuckle. “We were chatting about jamming,” adds Learoyd, “and Craig was like I have this band name.” It’s a relatively simple and straight forward origin story but to hear the band explain it did illicit a lot of laughs. Each member is so comfortable with each other and taking turns talking about each other that it’s hard not to completely want to join in on their infectious camaraderie. Their chemistry is something that shines through on Surrounded. Fahner and Leoroyd’s love of indie pop is showcased in their wonderful harmonies, while Locke takes the approach of wanting to complicate their arrangements with a definitely DEVO-esque drumming influence.
“Writing songs with this band is a unique experience as compared to writing with others,” says Fahner about their creative process, “because a lot of the best moments on the record are just things that happened totally spontaneously. It’s like this really efficient form of improvising where we aren’t just getting together to jam or some sort of free form thing that takes all night. Some of these songs, I feel, came together over like ten minutes.” This economical approach to songwriting isn’t something you notice right away when listening to the record but after a few times, these moments start to sink in and, whereas before your ears perked up to the vocal melodies and structure, you start to notice this collective urgency lurking underneath the pop shimmer. “There was an urgency of recording between openings between lockdowns, that urgency of we gotta get stuff on tape and once all that was done and we were all locked down again was the time when we would be working on the vocals and like finishing,” Fahner says about this tenacity that you hear throughout the album. “It was that kind of urgency that maybe drove the songwriting process too.”
With the album completed and out into the world the band is actually launching an honest to god tour to bring their music to the masses. Playing September 24th in Calgary at The Palomino, October 1st in Victoria at Vinyl Envy and October 2nd in Vancouver at Red Gate is a huge thrill for the band and, of course, newfound fans of the album. “You might want to call it a tour,” Fahner says with a laugh. “I don’t want to jinx it or anything because it seems that anyone who says the word tour gets immediately shut down.” This is something that is clearly important to the band. While the themes on the record embrace the social isolation that happens because of everything from technology to the global pandemic, the ability to be able to reach out and share this all with people is huge. “Most of the lyrics and like half the songs were all written during lockdown times,” says Fahner. Locke adds, “It’s not a pandemic record but it did happen to be made during a pandemic.” “A lot of the themes of the songs have come more into focus for people as they’ve had to turn more to the internet as a necessity but this is all things we were thinking about in the early songwriting too. Let’s just say that we are in the social isolation business and business is good,” Leoroyd says laughing, “The original title of the album was Anti-Social Media.”
If you do not live in one of the few cities that Motorists are playing when they hit the road this October, won’t stop you from seeing the band live! Motorists have filmed a special live set that you can see now. Here’s more about this set directly from the band. “Inspired by the visual aesthetics of the classic German music program Beat-Club we filmed a live performance at Studio Cozy in Toronto. Craig Fahner and Michelle Lemay collaborated on the filming, before Craig used a selection of analog tools (including an old video mixer that was found on the curb in a pile of trash) to create the video effects. We performed many of the songs from our debut album Surrounded along with a currently unreleased song called “Back To The Q.”
Order Surround by Motorists HERE