Make-out music

Halifax favourites The Maynards drop their latest, sexy disc Break Out the Make Out. Johnston Farrow gets his lip balm ready.

photo Darryl James

The members of the Maynards have an enviable relationship. Guitarist Heath Matheson, bassist Kristina Parlee and drummer Chantal Tardiff are the kind of friends who always one-up each other’s jokes, finish each other’s sentences and almost look alike. Perhaps not coincidentally, all three wear black-rimmed glasses.

The Halifax indie-rock band has been together for five years and it shows, not only in the way they interact, but also on their newest album, Break Out the Make Out. It’s their best disc to date and the title serves as a band mantra of sorts. For example, while discussing their new record over a beer at a local drinking establishment, the group recites the lyrics from the title song.

Heath Matheson: “It’s all about Break Out the Make Out. Step one.”

Chantal Tardiff: “Ask them to dance.”

HM: “Step two.”

CT: “Get in their pants.”

HM: “Step three.”

CT: “You and me.”

HM: “Step four.”

CT: “Dance some more.”

“It’s always dance, make out, dance,” says Matheson. “It never ends up with doin’ it. It always ends with dancing.”

Matheson is the most outspoken member, the one with the wittiest sense of humour. He is also the ringleader when it comes to The Maynards’ live shows, often bribing the audience to dance with cigarettes and beer or breaking the ice with a dance contest complete with certificates for the winners.

Parlee is the Maynard who seems to have her shit the most together. She is often responsible for booking shows, radio mail-outs and getting the word out about her band and other local indie groups on her long-running, Monday night CKDU radio show, “Downbeat for Danger.”

Tardiff is the quieter one, but she possesses a dry, wicked sense of humour. What she lacks in words, she makes up in her ability to keep time. Simply put, she kicks ass on drums and it’s exciting to watch her let loose on a snare and cymbals. It’s not uncommon to hear boys as well as girls whisper about her at shows. When asked about it, Tardiff struggles to speak, hands over her mouth. The other two Maynards bust out laughing.

“Gosh, I didn’t know that…” Tardiff says, embarrassed, her red face showing in the dark bar.

“I think you’re the only Maynard that didn’t know this!” Parlee exclaims. “We should totally put that in the press kit. Indie sex symbol!”

The group recorded Break Out the Make Out over the course of a summer weekend at Ultramagnetic Studios with producer Charles Austin, who took an immediate shine to the group.

“I think we made a list of all the bands he thought we sounded like, which is atrocious, really,” Matheson says, slipping into his best Austin voice. “He was like, ‘Aw, man! This one is AC/DC! This one is your Motorhead song! You guys sound like the Bangles!’ It was the AC/DC and Motorhead that was most embarrassing and impressive.”

Although The Maynards don’t really sound like those bands, the new album is heavier than anything they’ve recorded, but maintains a sense of fun. There are still harmonized vocals from all three members, but Parlee’s bass takes a more central role and Tardiff’s drumming sounds more like The Maynards’ live show. The album includes songs about teen angst, robot love and, obviously, making out.

“Before this record, we would play shows and we’d be like, ‘When did we become this heavy band?’” Parlee muses. “I think the difference in this record is both a difference in the style of songs we have written, but also that we spent more time thinking about how it sounded when we recorded it.”

Next up for the band is their CD release at Gus’ Pub on October 27, then the three-piece hits the road for its first real tour of eastern and central Canadian tour, including two shows in Winnipeg with Paper Moon.

“I want this record to bring on more dancing,” Tardiff says. “I want people to play it at their house and have little impromptu dance parties. Or for it to help them be more courageous in their pursuit of love.”

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