Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Tom Fun Orchestra - Interview/Contest

Sounds like: "a million atomic-level Ferris wheels hurtled through the air at light speed; like a hardball in search of a celestial catcher’s mitt. We call it cluster-rock"
Song: Tom Fun Orchestra - The Watchmaker

If you’re looking for something different, a little unexpected, and infectiously energetic; you should check out the Tom Fun Orchestra. They come from Cape Breton Island and are currently on their Pan (handling) Canadian Boxcar Crusade across Canada. “Tom Fun” seems to be a fictional character the band has created (check out the biographie on their official website). His history emanates the overall essence of the band’s music; rambunctious and fun.

The Tom Fun Orchestra is comprised of eight/nine people; two guitarists/vocalists (male and female), a violinist, a banjo player, an accordion player, drummer, trumpet player, and bassist. They are set to play Pub 340 on February 14th. I know what you’re thinking, an eight-piece band on the little stage at 340? Not to worry, this band has fit into much smaller (apparently, a phone booth).

Their music kind of reminds me of an eastern Canadian version of Gogol Bordello. Though, other people have compared them to Arcade Fire, The Pogues, Broken Social Scene and Tom Waits; as you can see, it’s hard to pinpoint this band’s sound.
Right after doing an interview with CJSW 90.9 (the University of Calgary’s radio station), I got a chance to interview Ian MacDougall (vocalist/guitarist/creator) and asked him how he would define Tom Fun’s sound and other questions. Check it out below.

If you’re interested in attending the Tom Fun Orchestra concert on the 14th and want two free tickets and a free copy of You Will Land With a Thud, e-mail your contact info to before February 13th (Contest courtesy of The MuseBox).

How did The Tom Fun Orchestra start? Whose idea was it?

I had been living alone in a lighthouse just off the coast off Cape Breton Island. I had lot’s of time on my hands and lot’s of songs in my back pocket. I went back to Cape Breton before the 2005 ECMA awards and I had applied for a notecase which is like a concert series that they have. I had sent in some demo songs that I had but I didn’t actually have a band so I had to call my pals and ask them if they’d play with me for this concert that I booked. We didn’t rehearse. Well, a few of us rehearsed the night of the show and the rest of the guys just showed up about 15 minutes before the show. And we played and it was terrible. The idea of it was to be designed to be more of a spectacle than a real concert. Obviously, we didn’t really rehearse so we didn’t really consider it a band; I didn’t think it was going to go beyond that. I just wanted to put on a spectacle for a lot of people and somehow tie in some songs to it.

And after that, you guys just kept going with it?

Yeah, we kept going. The first few months it was still an unorganized spectacle. But eventually, we realized we were having fun with it and people were actually enjoying the songs, not just the sight. So we decided to rehearse a little and that worked out. And we got tighter and we had more fun doing it so we kept doing it.

How would you define the sound of Tom Fun Orchestra?

I would define as a million atomic leveled Ferris wheels hurtled through the air at light speed; like a hardball in search of celestial catcher’s mitt. We call it cluster-rock; that’s the term we’ve invented for it. You can use the other term that I just spewed out as well.

What are some of “Tom’s” influences?

Let’s see. Public drinking fountains, exit signs, trolleys…I’m just looking around the room. Um, they’re all over the place from Mongolian throat singing (and I really meant that, I’m not being sarcastic) and everything and anything. I don’t know if I can put my finger on it; our surrounding environment.

Is this the band’s Canadian first tour? Have you been to the west coast before?

It’s our first time on the west coast. We’ve been through Ontario quite a bit and we’ve been overseas but we haven’t actually been west of Ontario until now.

How's it going so far?

It’s going wonderfully. We’ve had really good shows; we’ve had sold-out shows and a good response everywhere. We’ve played in a lot of cities that we’ve never been before and the response has been amazing. So that’s awfully nice.

Are you excited to play Vancouver?

I’m very excited. I’ve never been to Vancouver even outside of my band. I’ve got some pals there and I’m looking forward to it.

What should the crowd expect on the 14th?

Remember, that thing I said about the atomic-level Ferris wheel swirling through the air? Expect that, but in music form. Yeah, it’s bunches of energy and bunches of fun. And nappy-snappy dressers and really good dance moves. They should wear their dancing shoes. They don’t have to dance, but it’s nice when people dance.

Last question, is Tom an alcoholic?

(Laughs) Well…no, I would say he’s a recreational consumer.

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