The Almighty Rhombus are a classic pop band from Sudbury, Ontario. The band sent me their album, Lucid Living, back in November of 2013 and I instantly loved it. Rhombus has that classic 90’s type pop sound that bands like Oasis made popular. That sound, of course, is heavily inspired by The Beatles and other bands after them. Catchy melodies, short songs, and thoughtful lyrics never go out of style and Almighty Rhombus have figured that out.
I spoke to Clayton of Almighty Rhombus over the phone while the band was driving down to play a show in London. We spoke for over and hour and I got the impression that Almighty Rhombus are a great bunch of laid back guys. They are hilarious and they take pride in making solid music that stands for itself without a gimmick. I like that in a band. Almighty Rhombus are playing at The Baltimore house this Friday. Find more details on our events page.
Q – Hey Clayton! How is the drive going?
We are on the way to London right now. I got off working a night shift and here we are! We love playing London, we have some friends there and we are looking forward to letting loose and partying after. We’ve been trying to get down to Southern Ontario every weekend to play and get more exposure.
Q – Lucid Living is wonderful. Can you tell us a bit about how the album came together?
We recorded an EP a while ago with recorded equipment and it’s been our goal to record a full length album ever since. We applied for – and got- a Ontario Arts Council grant and we used that to fund the making of our album. It was a huge help. Mike wrote all of our songs, as he usually does, and we arranged them together as a band. We were after that classic pop rock sound and a certain vintage vibe. We spent a lot of time in the post production for Lucid Living – we went down to Mississauga where it was mixed and spent a week full of 12hr days going over details and getting the mix just right. I’m really proud of how it came out – we got to do some panning and we tried a few other techniques that came out really well. This is the first project that I’ve ever worked on where I feel like it is completely finished and I’m happy with the result – as a musician that’s a great feeling. Another thing that’s exciting is that the vinyl version of the album has a different song sequence than the CD. We figured that the listening experience is unique with vinyl and the way that people are more likely to sit down and listen to an entire album side at once – so we arranged the songs with that in mind.
Q – What influences and inspires your music?
We listen to a lot of different things between all of us, but we knew we wanted this album to have that classic vintage pop sound. There isn’t a lot of depth in the typical pop music and we wanted to make sure that not only did our music sound great, but that the lyrics had depth and that they were meaningful. Really, I had Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, in mind while recording. I kept thinking, “What would Pink Floyd do?’ Obviously – our music sounds a lot different than Pink Floyd – but I was after that level of mastery and perfection. Plus we incorporated a lot of panning into our mix which is something I like about Pink Floyd.
Q – I hope this doesn’t offend you – but I hear a lot of 90’s classic pop in your music and especially some heavy Third Eye Blind influence in a few songs. What do you make of that?
(laughs) I am not offended. I get it – and you’re right. There is that 90’s pop sound that bands like Third Eye Blind, and Oasis, had. Some of those bands were really good and have been tossed to the dust bin of history for some reason. Like, do you remember Fountains of Wayne? They were a really solid band and after that ‘Stacey’s Mom’ song they became a one-hit wonder and they were a joke. There are some Third Eye Blind revisionists, though.
Q – How involved are you guys with packaging, and booking, and the business side of music?
Well, I (Clayton) manage the group and I we are all involved heavily in all of the decisions we are faced with. I am really big on ‘diy’ and I guess I don’t trust too many people with getting things done. I’ve dealt with too many booking agents and promoters that have let me down in the past – so I prefer to do as much of it on my own as I can. However, we do work with some people who have been really great. We have Adam Bentley from Auteur Research doing our PR and he has really delivered on everything he has promised. He’s a stand up guy. We’ve also had a good experience working with Audioblood. As for the packaging – our cover photo is a self portrait by a Sudbury artist – a local lady that everyone here knows. Her name is Shannon Dennie and she gave us that photo for free to use for our CD. The rest of the photos were taken by Harriet Carlson.
Q – Can you tell us a bit about your ‘Big Basement Show’ festival that’s happening in a few weeks?
Yes! We have always been heavily involved in the music scene in Sudbury and we are so proud of the music coming out of this city. We started thinking about the festival this past fall and we wanted to do something to support the music community and we thought that this festival would be a cool idea. Now that it is almost here I can’t believe how well it has come together and what a great response we’ve gotten. The Townehouse tavern is a wonderful venue we have up here that we play at a lot – it was a natural choice for the festival venue. The crowd that goes there is really supportive and it is probably the best place to play music – in Canada. The staff treat you so well and are really passionate about what they do and the type of establishment they run.
Grace Hall is our daytime venue, where the music is taking place on Saturday March 1 and Sunday March 2. It’s all-ages and licensed. The Townehouse Tavern is our nighttime venue on Friday Feb. 28 and Sat. March 1, all the shows at the Townehouse are 19+. Grace Hall used to be a church, and we’ll have two living room setups in there, with a bar, food service, and free-to-play arcade games. We held a fundraiser a while back and we got a really good response from the community. Everyone has been so supportive. The bands are confirmed – and we are looking forward to the big day. The line up is a good mix of Sudbury bands, and bands from Sothern Ontario. We got a huge turnout from Hamilton! (details and full lineup – here)
Q – You guys do a lot of driving between Southern Ontario and Sudbury – what do you listen to in the van?
I like to drive in silence, actually. This band likes to talk. Jesus Christ! (note: Clayton yelled for the band to shut up several times during this interview.) When we do listen to music in the van we like Mash Potato Mashers, and we really like the new Speedy Ortiz album. We host radio shows on 96.7 FM and we get to discover a lot of great music through that. (the shows are Monday / Wednesday 10p-12p)
Q – Let me ask you this – what’s the rap scene like in Sudbury?
Its pretty good – there are a few really good MCs up here. My old roommate is actually a local rap weirdo. He goes by MC Silvertongue and he is a lot of fun. We used to laugh because his hotmail email address is ‘Ballistic 3t’ at hotmail. The ‘3t’ stands for triple threat. (Entire van bursts into laughter). Back to other MCs – Johnny B is a really great MC up here as well. There are others as well.
Sudbury has a great range of music happening right now. It doesn’t have the pre-existing support that bigger cities in Southern Ontario have – so in a sense it is a blank canvas. I have to say that everything we’ve achieved has been because of the tremendous community support here in Sudbury. The music scene up here has a bit of a Hamilton vibe in terms of the DIY approach and the grit and distortion that comes through in the music.
Q – What do you listen to from Hamilton?
All of the best bands right now are from Hamilton. I can even sense a Hamilton influence on some of the bands coming out of Toronto lately. We love the Dirty Nil – our first show in Hamilton was with them, it was at the Casbah and it was so much fun. Luke broke all of the strings on his guitar – and on our guitar. Luckily we had a spare. Those guys are amazing. We also really like TV Freaks, Monster Truck, Young Rival, Huron, WTCHS, etc.
Q – What do you guys have planned for 2014?
We are always writing new songs, and we actually play a lot of new material at our live shows. We are currently road testing some new material. Ideally we can get down to Southern Ontario every weekend over the summer and just play to as many crowds as possible.
Q – As guys living in Central / Northern Ontario – what do you make of the ‘Out For a Rip’ phenomenon? Is that an insulting stereotype, or is it funny?
Oh, god. Well, we do know people who actually say that and who are like the guys from the video. It is a stereotype but it is based on reality. Some of the suburbs around Sudbury have a lot of people that sound like that. Places like Levac, and Chelmsford, have that dialect. People say stuff like ‘bud’ quite a bit. I am personally really tired of people saying ‘out for a rip’ – it is just a viral video that won’t die. Do you know about Bubb Rubb? He is a whistle tip enthusiaist and you really have to check him out. He is hilarious.
Thanks guys! Drive safe.