The band celebrates the 1890s, a decade touched by new art, literature, and optimism
Between the 7 a.m. wakeup calls and the 13-hour cross-country drives to reach their next show, The Gay Nineties try find time to read, unwind…and have some daytime Merlot.
Just last week, vocalist and guitarist, Parker Bossley, was in Toronto representing the Vancouver-based band at the CASBYs, an awards ceremony that showcases alternative and independent Canadian acts. Though in Toronto, the other boys in the band, Malcolm Holt on drums, Bruce Ledingham on keys and Daniel Knowlton on bass and vocals, were on their way to their next show in Fredericton, N.B..
“The thing about touring…is that it’s not that exciting,” said Bossley. “I’m kind of constantly on tour. Some might say that I’m just running away from my problems,” he joked.
Bossley, who also plays bass full time with CASBY-nominated group, Mounties, worked for a long while as a session musician before forming this band.
“My real passion was always songwriting,” he said. “So I quit all my other bands, sold my bass guitar and equipment, and started a band.”
Calling up his longtime friends, Holt and Knowlton, and then later Ledingham, The Gay Nineties were born. They had previously released Coming Together, essentially an EP collection of four songs. Not just a cheeky play on words, the Coming Together EP personified the group’s musical process and style.
“We knew the sound of that EP wouldn’t be our sound forever,” said Bossley. “That’s the sound of a band trying to find their sound.”
Since then, they’ve been on tour promoting their upcoming EP, Liberal Guilt. Although officially slated to be released in late November, the album’s been on soft release at their shows, giving people a taste of their infectiously catchy and melodic breed of alternative rock. It’s at times psychedelically charged, with moments of glowing indie-pop, that’s garnered them comparisons to the likes of The Kooks and Arctic Monkeys.
“It’s absurd…but nice?” said Parker. “We’ve found what our sound is going to be for the next few years.”
Comparisons aside, The Gay Nineties are immensely proud of Liberal Guilt. Bossley rarely forces his friends and family to listen to his music, but just couldn’t hold back with this one. “I’m a critic. I criticize the things that I do, but I’m very proud of this,” he beamed, adding, “We listen to it in the van, that’s a good sign. This is the most proud I’ve ever been.”
Fans of The Beatles, The Gay Nineties admire the Liverpool lads’ simple style, both lyrically and instrumentally. “What I appreciate the most about The Beatles is that they’re challenging you, but your ear never notices,” said Bossley.
“I think art should change, if it’s real. Everyone changes every single day and every single month.”
Their appreciation for all things Beatles doesn’t end there: on “Turn Me On,” off the upcoming EP, they lift directly the eternally lovely and whimsical lyrics: “Somebody’s knocking at the door/Somebody’s ringing the bell/ Do me a favour/Open the door/And let ‘em in” from Paul McCartney’s 1976 hit “Let ‘Em In”.
Drawing inspiration once again from the past, the band’s name itself is a reference to the 1890s. The decade, which was at the center of what was known in parts of Europe as La Belle Epoque (The Beautiful Era), was characterized by an explosion of art, literature, and optimism.
“There were a lot of amazing and liberating things happening,” said Bossley. “The Gay Nineties is this fun way of sharing this feeling that we wanted to convey.”
The feeling in question, is that of celebration and overall happiness which can be felt throughout Liberal Guilt, since the band writes songs so that “people can enjoy them.”
Two singles already out, including “Letterman,” with its accompanying music video that sees the band spoofing the classic late night talk show format, The Gay Nineties are already looking ahead. “We’re about to go into full on writing mode. We want to follow this EP up pretty quickly with a full-length. We’ve pretty much got half of it written, ready to go,” said Bossley.
“We don’t really have time to waste, so we’ll be diving right into it,” he continued. “But we will definitely be sipping wine while we do it.”
The Gay Nineties had to cancel their Montreal date, but will be passing through Montreal in the near future.