By James Keller
The old cliché of getting yourself discovered by dating a big record label exec isn’t far off from Flannel Jimmy’s humble beginnings back in 1998.
"Most of us went to [the University of British Columbia] and we met a girl there who was going out with an A & R guy from Nettwerk," says Flannel Jimmy frontman Andrew Babuin about signing with Nettwerk Records, which ultimately led to the release of their first self-titled album in May.
"It was a total learning experience," begins Babuin, recalling the long process of putting the record together. "I think we came in rough around the edges and our producer [Allan Rodger] pretty much whipped us into shape."
The band’s main area of improvement was in the simplicity of their music which, as Babuin describes, sounded really busy and cluttered.
"If you listen to the best musicians in the world and you actually listen to the parts, they’re not actually doing anything super-difficult," says Babuin of the bands who support artists like Paul Simon and Sting. "But together as a band it just sounds amazing."
Babuin says that Flannel Jimmy’s goal is to achieve the same tight sound as the big players in the industry.
"Now I actually think we’re starting to listen to each other as a whole a lot more as opposed to just listening to our own parts individually," he says of the band’s improvement.
The sound that they’ve achieved is definitely in the right direction. Described by Babuin as rock with a funk-jazz twist, the music on their debut album is a catchy blend of upbeat guitar tracks and cleverly orchestrated saxophone. The band is on many occasions compared to folk-rock legends the Dave Matthews Band. Something that Babuin–although he thinks the comparison isn’t entirely accurate–certainly doesn’t mind.
"I think at this stage of the game, it’s not too bad to be compared to that," says Babuin, pointing out the similarities probably lie in the presence of horns. He also adds, however, Flannel Jimmy is more electric oriented than Matthews and company. "I think for people who’ve never heard of us it’s not a bad thing."
Flannel Jimmy also hopes the calibre of their live show will set their name apart from other bands.
"We sort of tone down jams and the length of songs on the album," begins Babuin of the differences between their record and their sound on stage. "[The live show] is totally high energy."
For a new band with such little exposure, it is even more vital to push this image on stage.
"We have to try to compete with the Wide Mouth Masons of the world who are super tight," says Babuin. "[We want] to be able to play on any stage with any band and be able to compete with them."