RatTail :: Self-Proclaimed Weirdos

By Janet Adamana

After only a few short years of writing, touring and performing, the slightly bizarre but incredibly creative Toronto trio RatTail continue their path of injecting contagious, raw, experimental pop into the Canadian indie music industry.

The band formed in 2009, after then-folksy singer/songwriter Jasmyn Burke joined forces with good friends bassist Ryan Mounsey and drummer Jesse Frank Matthews. The group has since turned into Toronto’s newest up and coming indie-pop group.

In June 2010, the band released their debut 7”, entitled George Mounsey EP, on Unfamiliar Records. It revved up the band and granted them plenty of exposure and positive reviews. With appearances on numerous websites and Best Of lists all over the blogosphere, RatTail was amped and ready to take the next step and promote the release across the country.

But before they embarked on their first western Canadian tour that year, a change in a band member’s life pulled one of them in a different direction.

“We were like, [Mounsey’s] having a baby, and we’ve always wanted to tour,” explains Burke, “but its hard to have a kid and be struggling with surviving while playing music. He has a little girl now, and he ended up moving out of town.”

Fortunately, the change was just a mild hiccup in the band’s touring plans. They quickly enlisted the help of friend and current RatTail bassist, Timy Fag.

Armed with a complete line-up and a mutual gusto for the tour life, the three went on a seven-city western Canadian tour that spanned from Manitoba to British Columbia.

The band’s latest release, a nine-track self-titled LP, garnered much anticipation and excitement since the news of its creation scattered the Internet last fall. It’s a record that took several months and a re-recording to bring to life. Time and effort well spent to help create the trio’s funky musical time capsule.

“It’s a collection of all the songs we had been working on before and after [Timy Fag]. It’s a mixture of both those worlds,” says Burke. “I was glad to actually create the LP because it’s like a storybook of our lives over the last couple of years.”

Songs on the LP, released on January 31, range from typical indie-pop, far more unique and experimental to old rock and roll with a dash of some grunge, generating a cross-genre album which stems from the band members’ individual musical tastes.

“It helps that we like different extreme sounds,” says Burke. “If I’m into a really poppy sound and [Matthews] is into some strange song I’ve never heard of, by some Iranian musician, you can put those two together and create something that’s interesting.”

Songs like album openers, “Soon Enough” and “Tip Toe” are fast, poppy and catchy as hell. They’ll have you dancing practically as soon as it starts. “Go Green” starts off soothing with a deep steady beat and Burke’s soft vocals. They also have a mix of more mainstream radio-friendly tracks like “I Simply” and old school rock roots on “Sicko.”

To perfectly compliment the band’s eccentric music is their equally distinctive music videos. One quick YouTube search of RatTail’s songs yields numerous artsy and whimsical videos for some of the band’s music. The most recent and most notable video is “Sicko.” It’s made up of hilarious clips of feathered hair, spandex and male strippers from an old ’80s VHS tape, entitled Ladies Night. All their videos, as well as RatTail artwork, are done by jack-of-all-trades, Jesse Frank Matthews who, aside from RatTail, also produces music for his solo project, JFM.

More promotion of the new RatTail album and touring are the first things on the band’s plate in the new year, as they are currently working on covering the continent.

“For us, the goal is to start doing things in the spring and summer. It’s actually really hard to tour in the dead of winter,” laughs Burke. “We’d like to do that and even try to go to the States.”

With gigs like NXNE YouLookDeath.ly Showcase, Halifax Pop Explosion, and even the Toronto International Film Festival, under their belt, it would seem natural for the trio to keep booking larger shows. But for Burke, the highlights aren’t in the prestige of the gigs, but in the adventures that come from traveling to them.

“Touring is always a really interesting way of living life for a while,” she says. “I’ve always liked meeting all the different people from different parts of the country, and Canada’s really beautiful, so touring is really the thing I like the most.”

RatTail’s self-titled LP is available on iTunes and in stores through Unfamiliar Records and Outside Music. Make sure to check out
Rattailmusic.blogspot.com for updates, tour news and hilarious anecdotes from the band.

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