ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 7, 1998
By Steve Newton
Armchair rockers who fear that making records is too much like work should take encouragement from Mike Trebilcock of the Killjoys. The singer-songwriter-guitarist recorded three tunes for the Hamilton power-pop trio’s new album while reclining slackerlike in a leather La-Z-Boy!
“It just kinda suited the song,” explains Trebilcock from a booth in a Kitsilano café. “The more intimate moments on the record were all recorded while sitting, just to get that sort of telling-a-story feel, as opposed to belting out a song into someone’s face.”
Judging by the relaxed tone of tunes such as “One Goodbye” and “Sandalwood and 50”, the La-Z-Boy proved an invaluable piece of recording equipment—and Trebilcock didn’t even have to lug his own lounger from home. Engineer Robin Aubé, who recorded Melos Modos at Hamilton’s fabled Grant Avenue Studio, was the furniture mover of the moment.
“I was joking around, saying that I should do it that way if they had a chair, and 10 minutes later Robin had one downstairs. I went, ‘Well, let’s give it a shot,’ and it seemed to work.”
Another thing that worked out on Melos Modos was having pop veteran Marshall Crenshaw provide some down-home acoustic guitar on “One Goodbye”. Crenshaw also played mellotron on “Beckon Call-Girl” and piano on “Rocketsleep”, although his overall contributions weren’t quite as memorable as those of the La-Z-Boy itself.
“He gave us a few ideas and things like that,” says Trebilcock, “but it wasn’t quite as intensely groundbreaking as we thought it would be, working with him. I’m glad we did it, though.”
Other musicians lending a hand on Melos Modos included banjo player Mike Daley and cellist Bob Doidge, and for its current tour—which brings the Killjoys to the Starfish Room on Saturday (May 9)—the band is joined by former guitar tech Jeremy Forrest.
“With the extra guitar player I can kinda open up and play solos without having to worry about a drop in energy or having to fill up space with feedback,” relates Trebilcock.
One tune that will no doubt make the set list at the Starfish is the rousing opener, “Perfect Pizza”, which saw Trebilcock arranging horns for the first time. Unlike many of today’s rockers, the guitarist—who spent three years studying jazz at college—can read music.
“It’s the first opportunity I’ve had to really use it,” he notes, “although I do use it in building the chords for the songs and things like that. And just knowing what the relative major or minor is really helps to keep things fresh in a way, ’cause you know what other chords you could use besides C, G, and F.
“I do love those chords, though.”