Published Jan 22, 2010Piano pop tends to conjure images of one of two things: balladeering teen songstresses like Vanessa Carlton or Elton John. But a pair of Vancouverites are taking the term back, marrying the genre's piano-driven hooks to indie rock tropes. Inspired by their native city and its hipster enclaves, like the Biltmore Hotel, Zachary Gray and Tom Dobrzanski have written a fantastic collection of songs for their debut as the Zolas. The pair previously played together in the more pop-oriented quartet Lotus Child. But after exhausting their options as a band and patience with one another, Gray and Dobrzanski reconvened six months later and began writing the songs that make up Tic Toc Tic. Opener "You're Too Cool" sets the tone, with the duo sharing vocal duties, delivering twisted pop tales littered with sing-along choruses and catchy melodies. Elsewhere, a nice shuffle beat and double harmony propel "The Great Collapse." Only the verses on "Marlaina Kamikaze" feel awkward and out of place. Co-produced by Howard Redekopp (a man no stranger to indie pop rockers via his work with New Pornographers), Tic Toc Tic strikes the balance between slick and smooth pop and raw rock.
What made you decide to continue writing and playing together after Lotus Child broke up?
Dobrzanski: When Lotus Child were done, there was maybe six months where we didn't have a band and didn't know if we were even going to start a band. We started hanging out as friends and started writing again.
Gray: Tom and I had spent a little too much time together, like as business partners in this band that had become part of the music machine, and we weren't really buddies anymore. Then we were like, "let's go back to the way it used to be when we were playing music in my parent's living room."
Did you have an idea in mind of what you wanted it to be?
Dobrzanski: No. We just wanted it to be as fun as it could be. Every decision was for [for a] short-term gain.
You've written together for years. What's the dynamic like?
Gray: It used to be we'd find the middle ground. But now, it's about finding something that we both generally think is awesome. It's funny, Tom will just spout things off on the piano and go back to the well again and again. I have a Walkman with a microphone and I'll keep that with me every time we play together. I know that if I don't tell him to play something again and record it, he'll never remember. (604)