The Group Sound's Matt Israelson is on the phone at Toronto's Reactive Ink while he gets a tattoo of Dante Basco's character Rufio from the movie Hook. He explains that he plans on sending a photo of the tattoo to be autographed and returned by Basco.
Amidst the sounds of a buzzing needle and the occasional murmurs of discomfort and fits of laughter from his bandmates, Israelson explains the origins of his Edmonton-based quartet. He refers to "group sounds," a genre of Japanese rock that spawned seemingly overnight after a Beatles show at Tokyo's Budokan Hall in June of 1966.
"That was totally a mashing of cultures," says Israelson. "It was really derivative of a specific sound that came from England, but then it exploded and became a thing in its own right. I guess that's what we're doing. But we're modern kids and it's going to come out a little differently."
This self-awareness is ultimately what makes The Group Sound such a successful band. While so many young bands try their best to emulate the Nuggets era with overwrought concision, The Group Sound uses its references (including doo-wop, cowpunk, mod, eleki) more as footnotes than as theses.
"It's impossible to mirror a genre that happened 50 years ago. You have to be honest to who you are and you have to write songs that are reflective of you as a person to have any sort of credibility," says Israelson.
The band planned its tour across the country after guitarist Mark Goetz decided to move to Montreal. "It works out well," says Israelson, "because we got into Pop Montreal, so I'm going to hang out there for a while. We're kind of touring and moving, all at the same time."
The Group Sound's members are no strangers to the national tour circuit (they've toured Canada with Brazilian Money, Bronze Leaf and Outdoor Miners). Israelson notes the importance of travelling as an independent band: "It's essential. You meet more and more great people along the way. It's a real give-and-take community. They help you out, you help them out."
The Group Sound w/Ghost Cousin and guests
Wednesday, August 24 at The Khyber, 1588 Barrington