Below is a transcript of the second third of my interview with the Passengers.
Michael: At your shows you often talk about how the internet helps you. The internet is a good resource for you guys as far as spreading the word of your music. How do you think the internet helped you guys? Was word of mouth more helpful or MySpace and Facebook, that kind of thing?
Jonny: I think they go hand in hand. Word of mouth is still a viable means of getting to know who you’re listening to, what your friends are listening to. But it’s just easier to know what they’re listening to with the internet. When you first hear a band you’re like “Hey Ryan, have you checked out this band?” and he’ll say “What’s the MySpace?” Ya, I think they definitely go hand in hand.
Daniel: I think it does so much. I mean, you could have friends or family in other countries and you can just say “Hey, check out my band.” Then they go and tell their friends and almost immediately you have someone in England listening to you, right?
Jonny: I think we kind of take it for granted, you know? “There’s someone in England, across the ocean, listening to our song!
Daniel: Imagine ten years ago, you’d be listening in morse code. “F chord, C chord…”
Ryan: I also think that with the internet, word of mouth is great but I think it’s most effective in a tightly knit community like a high school or something. But with stuff like Facebook and MySpace it’s really easy to make a community, you know? Like on Wikipedia, you can go from an article about a penguin to a baseball. After one click you’re in a totally different world on the internet.
Daniel: You know, instead of saying “Check out my band, hear them live!” you can just say “Check out my band, here’s the link.” It has its pros and cons I think because there’s also overexposure, so many bands can do that.
Michael: What do you think is the best moment you’ve ever had at a show before?
Daniel: There’s this bar in Mississauga called Marcello’s, and the owner Marcello is a good character. He has a very strong personality I’d say, on occassion when bands are playing he’ll come from behind the bar and get the mic and do a rant. It’ll be off the top of his head, like “It was the night, it was dark…” Long, weird, off the top of his head. Then after our last set, one or two months ago he just came up to us and said “Ah man, I should have done a rant!” And I said “You know you’ve kind of made it when Marcello wants to do a rant for your band.” I felt so happy.
Michael: Do you have any stories that can top that?
Ryan: Well Marcello is a very good character so it’s very tough to tell a story not featuring Marcello.
Daniel: Whenever we play “Asleepwalker” when it builds into that big part it makes me feel so happy. I love playing that. It’s my favourite part of every show.
Ryan: Or in “Garden City” when everyone’s clapping and seeing people dancing, enjoying the music. We feed off the audience more than we realize, I think. When they’re really enjoying the music those are the best times.
Michael: How about your worst moment at a show?
SuYen: It wasn’t too far off, I think it was two weeks ago? Marcello’s?
Jonny: Our show was sloppy.
SuYen: Ya, I think it was the worst.
Jonny: I think our worst shows are when we’re really sloppy. I can be really hard on myself.
Michael: Are there any incidents of, you know, being heckled or something?
Daniel: I think we deal with the heckling by… well we don’t heckle back, but we sort of play into it.
Jonny: There was this girl last time who kept telling me to take off my shirt.
Ryan: That’s not so much heckling as someone thinking you’re sexy.
Daniel: I remember we had a show in Scarborough and everyone was sitting down, and I remember one girl thought it was too loud, because she kept plugging her ears. And it threw me off for a bit, and then I felt sort of out of place, in a way. I wouldn’t say it was because of mistakes or anything, but it was kind of a weird feeling?
Jonny: Feeling like you don’t fit in or something, those are the bad shows.
Daniel: The odd mistake doesn’t faze me that much but it’s more embarassing when you kinda get into that head space of “No, I don’t feel right up in front of people at the moment.”
Jonny: You’re very vulnerable. It’s like being naked and walking down the street.
Michael: I really like your use of metaphor Jon.
Jonny: Thank you! I read books these days!
Michael: Often when you see at award shows, when a band is coming to accept an award, they always make big acceptance speeches like “I’d like to thank God, and I’d like to thank my fans.” So how important are your fans to you, because there are a lot of artists who say fans matter a lot but then at the same time might not give a shit what they say.
Jonny: I think there’s a point in those artists who are really established when they realize that someone is always going to buy their music, and it’s not such a big deal anymore . For a small-time band like us the fans are really important. Who else is going to listen to us? Who else is going to tell their friends about us? Sometimes fans will tell us what they like and what they don’t like about us and we take really take it to heart.
Daniel: I don’t really know how to explain it, but it kind of helps you in a way, to do what you do.
Jonny: You know, when you’re playing a show and the fans are singing along, you think “Wow, that was something I made them do, taking the time to memorize the lyrics and sing along to.” It’s a really humbling experience.
Daniel: I think it’s really nice, you know, how you grew up liking a band, and then other people are sort of feeling the same experience, wanting to see a band live. Now that we can do that for people it kind of makes us feel really nice.
Michael: A lot of Canadian indie bands that I’ve noticed are very very nice, I’ve found that a lot. I guess it’s a stereotype for Canadians too, “Canadians are really, really nice.” Do you get that kind of vibe when you’re playing shows with other bands? Are they all as nice as they seem to be?
Jonny: Well there’s a handful of bands that we really like…
Michael: Would you be able to name any of them?
Daniel: Really friendly, or really unfriendly?
Jonny: Well we can’t really name the unfriendly ones…
Daniel: Well because of shows we’ve made really good friends with Matt Henderson, we always try to get as many shows as we can with this guy. He’s just the nicest guy in the world. And the Elwins….
Jonny: When we first met the Elwins we were playing a lot of crappy shows with all these bands that just didn’t fit us. I remember when the Elwins played it was like a breath of fresh air. I felt so happy playing a show alongside them.
Ryan: They’re also the sweetest guys in the world. Well a lot of the time when we play bars we’re not always very functional and sometimes the other bands might have been at the bar a little too much. Sometimes they’re not just our style of music and I don’t know if this is mean to say but not our style of people. You know they’ll say “Ya man, fuck ya, fuckin’…” (laughter) I can’t understand the people whose every other word is “fuck.” I wonder, you know?
Daniel: I think there’s a correlation between style of music and personality traits.
Ryan: I just find that more often than not, I’m just kind of a person who likes to socialize if I’ve met people beforehand.
Daniel: Well I guess to make it more specific you did say the Canadian “indie” scene, and I think that in the Canadian “indie” scene it’s true, people are nice. Because we meet all different genres of people, and different genres have different types of people, some not so favourable, some pretty favourable.
Jonny: There was a sign recently put up by some beer company, where it said “Beer colder than Toronto” suggesting that people in Toronto aren’t very nice.
Michael: Ya, I heard about that!
Jonny: They took it down! A lot of people were saying that Torontonians are actually nice.
Michael: I don’t know, I find that on the subway people aren’t very nice there…
Jonny: I think people aren’t nice on every subway though… Except for that homeless guy who wants to sit… on you?
Daniel: I think it’s a big city mentality. In a big city people are more likely to just be doing their own thing whereas in a small town…
Michael: I think we could have a seperate interview about whether Toronto is actually nice or not. We could probably go another hour, you know…
Jonny: Ya, let’s do that!
Daniel: I took a university course on urban environments and the city and we talked a lot about big cities versus small towns. Mississauga is… are we expanding?
Michael: Oh ya, I’d say we’re expanding…
Ryan: The sixth largest city in Canada, aren’t we?
Jonny: How many are we?
Michael: About 750,000 or so?
Daniel: Well you can tell by the skyline. To be honest, I kind of like it. I like New York a lot, so…
Michael: Do you maybe dream of recording in New York some time?
Jonny: Yes. Electric Ladyland…
Ryan: Do you like the idea of a lot of buildings being within the buildings or watching them from a distance?
Daniel: I just like a nice skyline, you know?
Ryan: There’s this one bridge that goes into Hamilton. To the left side, it’s just ocean and on the other side it’s just filth and grime. It’s absolutely amazing.
Daniel: I remember we were driving home from a show once and the lake effect with the buildings all lit up was really nice.
Ryan: You know on the other side there are all these factories and a lot of smoke and you wonder “Why is the smoke not reaching the other side of this bridge?”
Michael: Ya, I think we might have strayed a little…