We are basement rock and roll," says guitarist Terry A'hearn. "As in, we play in our mom's basement, and she's like, 'Shut the hell up down there, my shepherd's pie is spoiling.'" Tonight at Gus' Pub, Outtacontroller releases its debut LP, Don't Play Dumb, a follow up to last summer's EP Power Out. The LP is aggressive, a little vulgar and somewhat juvenile. "I'd say youthful. We're a strip-club-friendly band," A'hearn says. "A family- and strip-club-friendly band," adds guitarist James O'Toole.
Like many scenes in Rock 'n' Roll High School, it is hard to tell when Outtacontroller is being serious. In debt to Weezer, Bad Brains and The Buzzcocks, the playful personalities bundled up on the LP developed from periods of growth. It took Outtacontroller a few position shuffles before settling on its current line-up. O'Toole and A'hearn kept switching between drums and guitar until they realized they both wanted to play guitar. Outtacontroller then signed with Germany-based P-Trash Records. After playing the Halifax Pop Explosion, they spent many late nights at Echo Chamber Audio ("props to Charles Austin"), self-producing the LP live on the floor.
"We decided we didn't want to rush it," O'Toole says. "And we didn't want to skimp out, either, so we recorded more than we needed and picked the best of the bunch." Half of the LP was recorded to analogue tape, the rest digital. Running behind schedule, they had "a very productive rum-and-eggnog night," A'hearn says, trying to get the LP to the label on time. Like an awkward teenager with braces and poorly timed boners, Outtacontroller hopes that the LP fits in with the cool kids but also stands out.
Formerly of Windom Earle and The Graboids, and currently playing with Nerd Army, O'Toole finds the Halifax music community really strong lately, "especially because there are bands playing the same kind of stuff as we are, like Cold Warps and Long Weekends. Some people call it 'power punk,' or 'power pop,' '70s-punk inspired sounds, which it is, but our main focus is on fun and audible vocals."
Alcohol, drug abuse and girls are recurring Outtacontroller themes. These aren't new ideas but Outtacontroller adds a personal touch. "There are a lot of 'girl' songs on there," O'Toole laughs, "but all the songs are based on our own experiences, like having mice in your room, having tinnitus as a musician, having problems with substances." By sharing, their goal is to connect. Outtacontroller is loud, but they're storytellers. "We can deal with serious issues in a light-hearted manner," A'hearn says.
On the level, the band has some grown-up plans for the next year. Because P-Trash is based in Germany, they want to tour Europe after booking a few shows in Canada. "We'd love to do a music video, too," says O'Toole. Mostly, though, Outtacontroller is looking forward to playing Gus' Pub again.
"The VLTs, tiny beers for cheap, the free party mix. What's not to love?" says A'hearn, originally from Moncton. But O'Toole reminds him that not every band gets party mix. "They only do that for the good shows, so let's hope we're a party mix show," O'Toole says, "We do play party music."
Representative of Outtacontroller, O'Toole and A'hearn are complimentary odds. Like O'Toole's favourite party mix component, the Ringolo, and A'hearn's preferred cheese crunch, distinct tastes are brought together in Don't Play Dumb: "I like putting the Ringolo on the cheese crunch," A'hearn says. O'Toole adds, "Then you're just in a nirvana of flavour, really." Join Outtacontroller for snack time. --
Outtacontroller album release w/The Fat Stupids, Spooky Campers, The I Don’t Give A Rips, Thursday, March 1 at Gus’ Pub, 2605 Agricola Street, 10:30pm