Photo by Elling Lien
“The four of us collectively, we’re basically what we consider to be the best rock and roll band…” says Victor Lewis in a mock-serious voice, cracking up his band mates Brad Power and Craig Follett.
“… that we can be.”
But all modesty aside, it seems people who like rock and roll like Kujo. A lot. With fuzz-heavy, screeching guitar riffs, a huge helping of fun, and a sense of humour, people can tell this is a bunch of veteran players doing this for the love of the music.
“I have a record collector’s attitude towards making music,” says singer and guitarist Lewis. “I make stuff that I would want to hear myself… And with this record we just recorded, I’m genuinely happy with it. There are cool moments on it that I don’t think you really hear enough of. So that’s why we did it.”
The members of the band—Lewis, Power, Follett and Adam Cardwell—have collectively backed up groups and artists like Chris Kirby, Trailer Camp, and Cherie Pyne for years. But as Kujo, the four friends found an outlet to let loose on their own musical tastes.
“This is that band where we get to do what we want to do,” says Lewis. “We’re liberated from the sideman thing.”
So basically the way we did it, we just try to do everything that we think is cool personally… Brad and I like 60s garage rock. We like raw stuff. We all have a love for blues and R&B—you know, soul from the 60s, stuff like that.”
On stage it’s a party atmosphere, but it’s a different kind of energy when the guys are not playing.
“The funny thing about this band is that we’re all so casual,” he says. “We didn’t have any ambitions outside of enjoying the music and enjoying playing, so, we could have done this a long time ago.”
While it takes a certain amount of forethought and planning to round up the resources for a full-length recording, the guys in the band found their own way to make the self-titled album come together. It’s music for music lovers done at a musician’s pace.
“This record, we worked on it all summer. This record was done entirely in my house, for no money. We just pooled our gear, our resources. And yeah, we just took our time, you know, had barbeques, drank beer… Never had anybody breathing down our neck, never had any hourly studio fees to pay. And I think that recording approach really worked well with our overall aesthetic: doing what we want, relax and just let it happen organically kind of thing.”
While the guys in Kujo might never be accused of overreaching ambition, they’re sitting comfortably in a groove that suits their style.
“I think when people see us having a good time it’s kind of infectious. We design all the music so you can move to it. I don’t see the point of playing shows when you’re just going to stand up there in one spot and be self-conscious.”
With a little added discipline in arrangements, and the added bonus for fans of actually being able to hear the lyrics, the recording promises to capture the best of a Kujo live show, says Lewis.
With a recent name-drop in a widely-read article on St. John’s rock music in the Globe and Mail, the band is thinking further afield: Tour dates, the upcoming ECMAs… even trying to promote themselves to radio stations.
“Just out of curiosity, we’re going to try and do those normal band things and get off our ass a bit this year,” says Lewis. “I think our reasons for wanting people to hear it are pretty noble. We’re just having a great time doing this, and we’ve seen at shows first-hand that people are enjoying it. Why not let more people enjoy it?”
The Kujo CD release happens at The Ship on Sept. 5. The Subtitles are also on the bill. Online, visit myspace.com/kujotherockband