Published Jan 01, 2006Known for bloops, bleeps and more cowbells, only the latter give any real indication indie dance act Shout Out Out Out Out hail from Edmonton. Jamming out live-to-tape beats and bass lines, "sad bastard lyrics masked by vocodorised vocals, eccentric sound effects and enough energy to displace their provinces oil economy, the Shouts highly-anticipated debut album Not Saying/Just Saying vaguely recalls Düsseldorfs Kraftwerk, Pariss Daft Punk or even Montreals Chromeo.
But Albertas geographic isolation and their own punk pasts have clearly helped this prairie six-piece craft an electrifyingly fresh spin on the electro-rock revolution, "Weve all been playing in Edmonton for a very long time in various bands so we know the music scene pretty well. Its a small but real tight-knit community maybe a little inbred, sure, but in a good way, explains Nik Kozub, who boasts a big tattoo of E-Towns "708 area code and stands at the dead centre of his citys musical clusterfuck (though hes currently seated in Torontos Horseshoe Tavern where Veal, his former full-time band/current occasional side-project with Luke Doucet are playing later tonight).
Not only is Kozub the Shout Outs front-man, he also runs their label, NRMLS WLCM, with band-mate Jason Troock and owns a recording studio where last year he produced 17 albums by Edmonton artists, including Cadence Weapon (with whom theyre planning an upcoming collaboration) and the amusingly-titled two-piece Whitey Houston, whose members are also in Shout Out, etc.
When mentioning the similarities to such multi-tentacled collectives surrounding Broken Social Scene, the Arcade Fire and the New Pornographers, Kozub simply cracks, "thats why those are strong scenes theyre all operating like small-town Edmonton.
But if it seems that Edmonton music has suddenly emerged out of nowhere compared to the longstanding scenes in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, well, it pretty much has. "Its only been the last few years that a lot of Edmonton bands decided to get organised and get out and tour a bit. Were in the middle of nowhere, basically. The next major city west is a massive drive, east is a massive drive. So its pretty daunting to take on the financial burden of getting out of Edmonton.
But all that percolating paid off and by the time S.O.O.O.O. began travelling cross-country, their high-kicking live show involving double drummers and four bassists plus synths, samplers, sequencer, vocoder and, of course, lots of cowbells had achieved a near-perfect genre blur.
"Playing in this band is the same as playing in a rock band, Kozub says. "Were still all playing our instruments and jumping around like we would if we were playing rock music. But its easier to get people moving when the whole point is playing music that makes people move. Its called dance music for a reason. Were trying to get people dancing.
Easier said than done, one might suspect, considering the indie scenes notorious reputation for being unable or unwilling to let go and get down. But while that stereotype has some basis in reality, Kozub claims the times, they are a-changing.
"I think at one point that was true but everybodys into everything these days, probably because you can download every record so theres almost nobody who is only into rock or only into dance. Its more acceptable to buy a techno record at the same time as youre buying a psych-folk record. Dance music is getting to be more acceptable and so is dancing at shows. Having fun is becoming cool again.
"Some of us look like such big doofuses anyway on stage, pipes in drummer Clint Frazier, "so people see that and theyre like, Hes having so much fun and he looks so stupid that I can maybe dance a little and not feel weird. If we can be awkward dorks, so can everyone else.