Music Interview: controller.controller be 5 by 5

By Rachel Betts-Wilmott

Proverbs, like myths, find their basis in fact. The Portuguese saying, “Girls and vineyards are hard to guard,” plays off the common knowledge of the Portuguese love of wine and promiscuous women. “Method to the mayhem,” refers to the idea of mass randomness, the controlled chaos which created the universe. Or perhaps the chaos from which controller.controller formed and still live within everyday.

A frustrated Ronnie Morris started the group a couple of years back. Tired of playing in an array of arrangements going nowhere, he set about assembling a band. After countless personals ads in Toronto newspapers, Morris filled out the roster… kind of. Scott Kaija on guitar along with Colwyn Llewellyn-Thomas and Jeff Scheven on drums. That’s right “fill out the roster” means a band consisting of three guitars and a drummer.

Adding to the regular confusion when starting a band, Morris decided to pick up the bass and Llewellyn-Thomas brought around his friend Nirmala Basnayake, who’d never played in a band before. Then, like the Big Bang starting the universe, C.C came together from uneasy nothing.

A couple of years later and the band tours alongside Death From Above 1979, another Toronto band. Returning from the UK, they now high-tail it across Canada before heading down into the states. Indeed, they might be coming to your hometown any day now, just don’t ask Morris about it. “On the road I don’t think ahead or really look back,” extrapolates Morris, on the phone from what he thinks is Vancouver. “I play the shows and then get in the van. It keeps me from getting homesick or tired.”

But that’s not where the craziness ends. Despite being past the days of Morris learning to play bass and Basnayake being a little shy at live performances, doesn’t mean the band has it easy now. Not that touring with DFA is a hard time, but touring with a temperamental van and an hectic schedule certainly is. Morris tells of breakdowns in Halifax and a $100 cab ride, dragging their equipment from the outskirts of Montreal to a show.

“Sometimes we’ll pack up to leave and it just doesn’t want to work. So we unload and hope it’ll start in the morning,” laments Morris. “We’ve had spontaneous combustion, one day the back of the van just burst into flames, it melted some cases.” He trails off, “we still don’t know why.”

They may not know how it started, but it somehow doesn’t seem so odd that it did. Don’t take that to mean C.C is a pyrotechnic hair-metal band. Just as you wouldn’t be the slightest bit astonished if the Flaming Lips’ tour van became overrun by soap bubbles, fire is simply a plague well suited to the band. There’s just something inflammable about their songs, a certain energy to them. So it is not at all surprising their instruments nearly perished in a freak van fire.

But for now, controller.controller tour through the chaos, playing their incendiary post-punk dance music and actually enticing audiences to get up and dance, in whatever city they may happen to be in.


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