Fiction’s imprint

With its debut LP still a month away from release, Toronto’s From Fiction has managed to carve out an enviable reputation. Chris McCluskey reads into it.

Reading the lavish amounts of positive press Toronto-based rock group From Fiction has been receiving around Southern Ontario, one can easily develop the impression the band is really something. And perhaps it is.

Maybe the quartet is that band you’ve been waiting to rescue you from your musical doldrums. Maybe these guys will restore your faith that music that speaks to you is still being written and inspire you to impulsively change your MSN name to share your new discovery with the world.

It’s possible.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Adam Barnes admits praise has been heavy in their short history, but he hopes those who research the band keep a healthy perspective and approach their pair of support gigs for Sylvie on February 25 with an open mind. It will be From Fiction’s first trip to Atlantic Canada.

“It’s kind of nice when people come in expecting nothing. And then you can play for them and then they’re surprised,” he says via phone from Toronto. “We’re pretty humble guys, and we don’t think we’re something we’re not. There’s obviously a place for us. We’re not going to be huge, we’re not that kind of band.”

Repute for their riotous live performances is gathering steam, but Barnes says hype—with specific reference to a Toronto arts weekly reporting them as having blown New York City’s The Rapture off the stage—is to be taken with a grain of salt.

“That was kind of weird, and a little surprising,” he says. “It was just our second show and we really didn’t have a feeling at that point of what people think of us or anything. It’s flattering to hear, but at the same time it was really just another show. It is really blown out of proportion I think at this point. It was good and it kinda got us some buzz. It got our name around anyways.”

The band is set to release its first full-length, Bloodwork, on March 21, on the heels of its 2004 self-titled debut EP. Barnes’s Cobain-esque wail gels seamlessly with vocalist/guitarist Quentin Ede, bassist Owen Marchildon and drummer Rob Gordon, conjuring the intensity and sound of a more explorative Moneen.

“I didn’t really hear them before we started the band. I think that’s a fair assessment though, I’ve seen them play and we kind of play in a similar fashion,” he says. ‘We play with a lot of energy and a lot of focus on the live show.”

Focus on live performances made Steve Albini the ideal choice to record their LP, which was a process completed in just five days. The band had ambitions to work with the Chicago recording engineer, who has produced classic live-sounding records for the likes of Nirvana, The Pixies and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Coincidentally, he was available when they were ready to record.

“Basically, we’ve done previous recordings, with the EP or the demo before it…but the idea was to try to make it sound like an Albini record,” Barnes says, laughing. “We were all huge fans of his, and he makes really good live-sounding records. We put a lot of emphasis on playing live.”

Barnes believes first-hand interpretations of From Fiction’s live show being spread by music enthusiasts is the foundation of the credibility in terms of buzz.

“I think word-of-mouth is the biggest thing we have for us right now. It’s one of those things when you read in a magazine that such-and-such a band did this in this, you know…and when you hear it from someone who listens to the same music as you do, obviously you’re going to take it a little more seriously,” he says. “I think that’s where word of mouth becomes a little more important than some of the press.“

If you happen to head out to The Pavilion or Stage Nine this Saturday and you catch the band in action, tell the band your thoughts—From Fiction is looking for a little more constructive criticism.

“Yeah, we have been criticized a few times, but I think we need some, definitely,” he says. “And if we can quit our day jobs…yes! I think that’s our goal right now, actually.”

From Fiction w/Sylvie, February 25 at the Pavilion (w/Their Majesties), Halifax Common, 7pm, $8; and Stage Nine (w/The Establishment), Grafton at Blowers, $7, 10pm.

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