TUNS w/Partner, Monomyth, Century Egg Friday, October 21, midnight The Marquee Ballroom, 2037 Gottingen Street $25
The members of the pop-rock group TUNS were friends first, which is probably why their debut, self-titled record feels as familiar and tasty as a sonic slice of vanilla cake. Or, as Mike O'Neill says about the "vocally driven pop" the band makes, "Let's put it this way: If you like The Beach Boys, you'll probably like TUNS."
The mostly-Toronto-based three-piece ran in the same heady "next Seattle" circles in 1990s Halifax. Back then, O'Neill moved here from Ontario to join the scene with his band The Inbreds, and his TUNS bandmates are Chris Murphy of Sloan and Matt Murphy of The Super Friendz. O'Neill remembers feeling at home with the unrelated Murphys in '96, almost a decade before talk of doing an album together began.
"When you meet new people and you're like 'wow, I found people that are like me in another city,' you almost can't spend enough time with them," he recalls of that period. But a sense of loyalty to their own bands meant the jam sessions in those days never bore fruit.
That changed when circumstances drew O'Neill back to Ontario to visit, and back in touch with Chris Murphy. Monthly jam sessions began, and soon there were enough recordings on Murphy's phone to warrant an album.
Now, with a tour to back the LP and a headlining spot at the Pop Explosion, Exclaim! magazine bestowed the three-friend-jam-party "supergroup" status, a term that can get overused but here is nonetheless accurate.
"Of course we're thrilled. It sort of sounds like an all-star team," says O'Neill, laughing. "We just wanted to make a fun record together."
Singing, instrumental and writing duties were all evenly split, causing members to buck traditional designations like lead guitar or vocalist. The three are so in sync, their voices border on indistinguishable—to the point that O'Neill's mom could only guess who sings what songs. And she guessed wrong.