Published Jan 01, 2006Despite the maddeningly endless repetition of classic rock radio, it's amazing how well a lot of 70s rock holds up, and how much remains to be discovered. Little-known cult heroes like Captain Beyond, Budgie and Sir Lord Baltimore have become the new gods of the stoner rock crowd. They certainly aided guitarist Les Godfrey and bassist Nick Sewell in freeing themselves from the metallic shackles of their previous band Tchort, and discovering their true, more melodic (yet still invigoratingly heavy) selves as the Illuminati.
"The common thread is still rock, but what we went back to with the 70s music was the fusion element of incorporating a little jazz and Latin or whatever," Godfrey says. "I've always gravitated toward more melodic things, so with Tchort I just got bored with thinking of things in a metal way. Especially with singing, I can't get past this whole macho grunting thing anymore. People tell me they can't stand Rush because of Geddy Lee's voice, but I actually like it."
On the heels of their blistering self-titled EP, recently reissued with five extra tracks, the Illuminati have a new full-length, On Borrowed Time, once again produced by Ian Blurton. Sewell says that the trio has been pursuing some U.S. interest, but felt that the album at least needed to be released in Canada.
"This album represents when we really solidified what we are, after we got Jim [Gering] on drums," says Sewell, son of former Toronto mayor John Sewell. "With this band, we're all comfortable bringing in any ideas we have and exploring them. We're all about instant gratification with everything we do." While such an attitude might conjure images of ten-minute solos, the Illuminati keep their songs surprisingly concise, although Godfrey admits that that is starting to change as the number of shows increases. "There are areas in the music that we can definitely expand upon," he says. "We're finding that it's actually nice to have those breaks once in a while, when you can let your mind get out of the preset notion of the tune." Spoken like a true rock god.