A big thanks goes out to Xephyr, After the Empire, and Cousin Rufu for performing at The Velvet Underground last night!

Xephyr played a strong, energetic set of 90's based music closing their set with a carbon copy cover of Silverchair's Israel's Son. They also fulfilled my rock n' roll dream of seeing someone actually smash their guitar at the end of their set. Derek Madison a.k.a. Grasshopper always came close to chucking his Fender Jaguar into the crowd back in '95, but never did. Lionel, lead singer and guitarist, brought out a sledgehammer and a cheap "nova" guitar and beat the hell out of it, smashing it into pieces. Some might find that stunt a little over the top but the crowd loved it. A backpacker from England, that was in the crowd, actually took the remains of the guitar and had the band sign it. Quite a crowd pleasing set! I challenge Xephyr to setting a guitar on fire during their next show!

After the Empire are simply pure rock! These guys are no strangers to the Toronto music community, as all but their new vocalist, were members of Sons and Lovers. They are a loud band. So loud that the Velvet's sound tech suggested they turn their amps around. An interesting technique that allowed for great guitar tones and vocals to actually come through in the mix. They performed a unique cover of Whole Lotta Love which displayed their own rock sensibility. Drummer, Zack Brown, "didn't even flinch" during his performance, keeping the band locked in and delivering mature fills and perfect timing. After the Empire are performing next on Thursday August 26 at the el Mocambo with Farewell Cool Reason and Seas which features member of moneen. Here's a link to the invite: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=209326022451521

Cousin Rufu are a new band in Toronto and are charged with energy, soul, and passion. Their set at the Velvet Underground got them ready for their upcoming performance on Friday August 5 at The Sound Academy. Here are a couple photos from a recent shoot I did with them and some insightful responses the woah! interview questions.

In two (2) sentences, or less, describe your band.
Cousin Rufu is about collaborative creativity and exploring what emerges collectively when a group of diverse individuals get together to make music.

As musicians are you very conscious of the direction your music takes? What can people expect to hear at the upcoming show?
At this point, being a band that's less than 2 months old, the direction isn't really set yet. I think that's the exciting part about this stage of starting up something new - there's a lot of possibilities. I think we'll be taking it one song at a time and shaping our sound as we go - the most important part is whether what we're doing is engaging to us as musicians, and exciting to our audience.

Who/what has inspired you as musicians?
We're so new, that we haven't even had that conversation as a group! We definitely haven't formed around being a band with a certain sound or because we all want to be like band so-and-so. I think for all of us, there's an underlying desire to just get out there and perform, and collectively, all the musicians that we've loved seeing in our lives inspire us to want to do our best, write great songs and get out in front of an audience as much as we can.

How would you describe your experiences as an independent band over the past years? Have you experienced any major challenges and/or significant moments?
Again, we have some diverse experience to draw from here. Being a new band, it's actually been surprising how smoothly things have gone up to this point. One big hurdle is finding the right chemistry, and it seems like we got lucky right away. Our first rehearsal where we were all in a room together for the first time rocked, like we were all old friends. We seem to be getting a lot of opportunities to play right out of the gate too, so that's really awesome!

Albums you’re listening to at the moment.
Take Care, Take Care, Take Care - by explosions in the sky.

Favourite restaurant in Toronto. Why?
Depends on the mood, but Korean food is always on the top of the list.

Favourite independent coffee place in Toronto. Why?
Tango Palace on Queen East. We always hear music that's awesome and new, plus they have amazing staff and the pastries are pretty awesome. Excellent serving of tea.

Favourite independent musician/band in Toronto. Why?
Shabamzy! Pure testosterone! Groove Funk Country Stompin' Rock.

Favourite card game. Why?
ASSHOLE, everyone can play and everything can change with just one card.

What does the Summer/Fall of 2011 hold for your band? Any tours, recordings, special events?
At this point, we're trying to get together promotional materials, find opportunities to play, and video our live stuff. We want to play as much as we can, tighten up our playing, and write new material. We'll also be applying for 2012 summer festivals.

How can people get more information on your band?
Right now, www.cousinrufu.com has some recordings of our songs. We'll be updating the website over the next month so it's more current and provides more info and performance dates. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI2HHJdGXiM