Music Interview: Ladies and gentlemen, The Ladies and Gentlemen

By Katherine Fletcher

Humans are never satisfied. Just when we think we have it all, we’re longing for something to gratify us in new ways. This never-ending endeavour is embedded everywhere and the music industry is no exception. Musicians constantly switch genres throughout their careers from jazz to punk to pop. Bands break up leaving members to embark on solo projects or branch out into other music groups. These transitions succeed as much as they fail.

It’s just a matter of time before The Ladies and Gentlemen are added to the roster of successful solo acts. Despite the name, The Ladies and Gentlemen is just Thomas D’Arcy, formerly the lead vocalist and bassist of The Carnations. Last year he decided it was time to move on.

“I love the music we were making in The Carnations,” D’Arcy says. “I was in the band since I was 15, and I’ve kind of grown at a certain point to realize that it wasn’t the genre or the type of music that I wanted to be making anymore. I was just kind of ready for a change of some sort.”

This change resulted in the basement-recorded album Small Sins, a collection of upbeat, synth-infused pop punctuated with haunting vocals and introspective lyrics. D’Arcy says the recording has made him feel very self-conscious.

“I guess it’s something to do with just the responsibility,” he remarks. “When you’re recording an album or making something yourself on one hand, you get all the credit, basically, ’cause you made it or whatever. But on the other hand, if the album sucks then it’s going to be all my fault, so that can make you kind of self-conscious in the end, and I feel like I’m on the line when there’s nobody else to blame except myself if it goes wrong.”

This self-consciousness does not just relate to the reception of the album, but also to the personal aspect of the lyrics. D’Arcy has been very frank about his decision to leave The Carnations, citing a lack of growth as well as the emotional emptiness of the songs as reasons for his departure. With Small Sins D’Arcy captures the intimate and genuine quality he craves.

“It’s kind of the first time I’ve written an album where all of the songs were very, I guess, true,” explains D’Arcy. “I’ve written a lot of songs in the past where I had a great melody or great little hook or something like that but in the end the song didn’t actually really mean very much to me. And so this is the first album that I’ve made where every song is very personal in that I know exactly what it’s about.”

Several critics have drawn comparisons between The Ladies and Gentlemen and indie favourite Grandaddy. Although D’Arcy thinks they’re a great band, he doesn’t see any similarity between his sound and Grandaddy’s. When it comes to musical inspiration, he looks to various genres searching for a certain je ne sais quoi.

“I think what was really important making this album was that it sort of had a vibe or something that you couldn’t really describe or make a direct influence with it,” comments D’Arcy. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Neil Young to old punk rock stuff [that isn’t] necessarily recorded well, but just sort of has that indefinable quality to it, like a certain magic and I’m trying to find that vibe in each song, as opposed to trying to make everything seem picture perfect.”

Everything does seem picture perfect for The Ladies and Gentlemen though, now a full-fledged band on tour. In June, D’Arcy won the fifth Annual Galaxie Rising Award at the North By Northeast festival in Toronto. He’s also nominated for a 2005 CASBY award. If these accolades are any indication, The Ladies and Gentlemen are going to be exactly the new sound many indie fans have been longing for.

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