Billie Dre and the Poor Boys (William Dray, Dylan Ryan and Corey Henderson) put their noses to the grindstone Saturday, February 23 at Gus' Pub (2605 Agricola, $5, 10pm w/Merrick Slip, Eric Ringuette & The Other) playing nostalgic sounding rock ‘n’ roll. But the band are quick to acknowledge that classic rock ‘n’ roll themes of sex, drugs and booze aren’t always the most progressive.
“A lot of us listen to all types of music and modern music, a lot of rap,” says Dray. “You know times have changed, sex, drugs and rock and roll isn’t always a good thing. Like addiction and womanizing? None of us like that.” “What modernizes it is that we’re living in the now, we love that old music but we also are doing it from our standpoint in history,” says Ryan.
Their upcoming album, titled Garlic Fingers, is a full-length due in June, with appropriately summer-themed songs about tacos, beaches and booze.
“The only theme I think runs the whole way through is energy,” says Ryan. But that wasn’t always the case.
For the band’s first year, the music was slow and folky (“More Leonard Cohen than MC5,” says Ryan). Around June things switched. The band wrote a brand new set and became the band they are today. In all their shirtless glory.
“A lot of our early music we played was a bit more sombre, that’s the music we were into,” says Henderson. “I like to say we all had mental breakdowns at the same time and we were like, ‘we don’t want to play sad music anymore.’”
“Yeah, why were we dwelling on being sad?” asks Ryan.
“Why don’t we just have fun all the time?” says Henderson. “Turns out there’s no problem with that.”
Since the sea change, having fun playing live comes easy. “I was much less confident when we first started cause I’d never played in a rock band before,” says Henderson. “I’d been in orchestras and brass bands so I wouldn’t know how to react. Then when we started playing louder music I just started to—”
“Take off your shirt,” says Dray, laughing.
“The first time it happened was because I was very, very hot,” Henderson says.
“It’s a necessity thing,” adds Ryan.