What began as an inside joke about a character in a high school play has now become the Montreal electro-rock band Chair Warriors, whose debut EP A Thousand Words features traditional rock vocals, guitar and a little bit of ivory-tickling.
“We entered our first battle of the bands, scrambling to find a name,” recalls guitarist Rob Flis, a Concordia journalism student and staff writer at The Concordian. They decided on the name Chair Warriors, inspired by their friend who played a character called “the Chair Warrior,” a super villain who finished off his adversaries with a chair, à la WWE, in Laurier Senior High School’s annual Blue and Gold Revue, Super Zeroes.
“We just used Chair Warriors as a last resort, thinking, well, you know, we’ll just use it for this because we need something, and we couldn’t shed the name.”
After a few lineup changes, the band has settled down as a three-piece, emulating their sonic heroes Muse. The trio consists of Rob, his brother, drummer Ryan Flis who also attends Concordia, and vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Mignacca, who is studying music at Vanier College.
“I’ve known Ryan for, let’s see, since he was born,” Rob jokes. “Ryan met Brandon during high school, where he was already blowing away people with his talent.”
The band members quickly bonded as they began making a name for themselves on the rock scene, playing clubs around Montreal.
“It’s been great playing at places like Le Divan Orange and La Sala Rossa,” says Rob. “But we’ve played our share of dumps, too.”
In addition to their covers, which treat fans to classics such as Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” they have been working hard writing original music, too. The songwriting process often begins with an idea from Brandon, while working at home.
“Usually it’s just a simple piano melody and a vocal take,” says Rob. “And from there it grows. Sometimes it changes drastically, but most of the time it’s a collective process.”
The new ideas and fresh songs have led to the band renting out a recording studio to flesh out their ideas.
“It requires more responsibility,” explains Rob, adding that the studio time is both necessary and expensive to capture their electro, classical and ‘90s grunge influences. “But it comes with being a musician.”
So does the challenge that plagues all musicians: getting people to listen to their music.
“Word of mouth is very difficult,” laments Rob. “Even on the Internet, you feel like this little guy, stuck in a life raft in the middle of the ocean, amongst the millions of other life rafts.”
“Right now, we really have to publicize ourselves as much as possible, and we seem to be doing quite well. But we are always happy to work from step one,” says Rob. “First step, you start a band. Next step, you play shows. Next step, you record an album. Next step, you get fans.”
In taking on the roles of student and musician, the dedication and commitment can take its toll.
“It’s draining,” admits Rob. “There is a lot fun, but there is a lot on our plates, so we couldn’t do it without the people who give us clear-headed advice. It makes life so much easier.”
While they make sure their music is readily available on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Reverbnation with its smartphone app, the band recognizes the need to give fans something physical. That’s why they are planning to launch the physical copy of their album when they perform as a featured artist at Landmark Entertainment’s Battle of the Bands 2012.
“Fame, fortune, the works,” Rob says is what’s in store for Chair Warriors. “We want to be the next Foo Fighters. 2012 is our year.”
Catch Chair Warriors at Le National (1220 Ste-Catherine St. E.) on April 14 for the launch of their debut record A Thousand Words.