Published Jan 01, 2006"What Canadian music needs is a rigorous smarty," Dan Bryk muses. On his provocative, and much-delayed Scratchie debut Lovers Leap (on Teenage USA in Canada), this caustic computer geek from Mississauga is working on it. Bryk is nothing if not extra large from his size 40 jeans, to his piano-driven pop melodies, to his opinions (on the "evil cartel that runs the music business," the "leverage boyfriend/girlfriend theory" within the Toronto rock scene, etc.), to his love/hate of himself. This is a man who called his 1995 indie disc Asshole.
On Lovers Leap, he lays out the particulars of his private life in the Billy Bragg/Loudon Wainright III tradition when not crooning elegies to highways that never got built ("Spadina Expressway"). "I Love You Goodbye" is the catchiest bit of candour you'll hear this year, while the falling-apart falsetto on "Memo To Myself" marks his coming of age.
"It's a break-up record, like [Dylan's] Blood On The Tracks, [Costello's] King Of America, or [Richard and Linda Thompson's] Shoot Out The Lights," says the 30-year-old Bryk. "It's tough. You're always balancing your own self-interest for the sake of art. And sometimes I worry that songwriting is the only place where I can be really honest."
But does the art make the asshole, or the asshole make the art? "I think it's both," he adds. "Part of it is a willingness to say things that most people wouldn't say, and part is autobiography or self-therapy. People get mad at me, when they figure stuff is about them. That's fair, but it's kind of a first-person record very much so."
The amiable Bryk has also taken some flak for being a "careerist" foisting his demo off on his idols, including Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger (a partner in Scratchie, along with ex-Smashing Pumpkins James Iha, and D'Arcy). "What the fuck else am I going to do? [The industry] is designed to keep people who aren't making the processed-cheese type of product out of the loop," he rants. "In a business where there's no A&R to speak of, the best you can do is let other artists know about it."