Democraticlly King Cobb

By Rachel Betts-Wilmott

It’s pretty well established most people think democracy as a good thing. But with the presidential and mayoral elections coming up and the hubbub surrounding them, enough is enough. And yet you can’t help but smile when hearing Kevin Lynn, bassist for King Cobb Steelie, describe their band, “It’s probably one of the more democratic bands out there.”

When the group formed nearly 15 years ago they didn’t know what exactly the future held for them. Back then, as students at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Kevin Lynn and Kevin Byrne, who would later form King Cobb Steelie, studied art history, political science, English and history. But it was then, as djs at the university radio station, they began playing together.

By 1992 they had released their self-titled first album on Raw Energy, and since then, so much has followed. Now, they’ve released their fifth album, Destroy All Codes, to a wider and more mixed audience.

“Mayday was a departure from our usual sound and more into the mainstream,” explains Lynn over the phone from Toronto. “A lot of the people who got to know us from that don’t quite know what to think of Codes. We get people going either way. Some are really happy that we’ve gone back to our foundations, some miss the pop sound.”

The critics, however, were much more decided than the public, as always. King Cobb Steelie has been quite the rock for Canadian indie music. They’ve seen a lot of change not only within the band, but also in Canada. The things they’ve learned growing up in Canada’s music industry. “There isn’t really one scene in Canada, it’s too big a country for that, everything is very regional,” says Lynn.

There are other words of wisdom these rockers can impart to the youngster out there, but an important lesson to learn is how business seems to move in phases. “Now that the grunge-rock thing is over, there are a lot more interesting indie bands and labels around,” says Lynn. “[But] there’s no air play for Canadian bands on tv anymore.”

It’s the frustration of getting airtime that caused some of the change within the band. Band members have left and gotten real jobs or even started families. But it was their coming of age in a left leaning, politically motivated town that influenced their biggest decision yet. “Kevin [Byrne, lead singer] wanted the band to continue as a democratic band. He didn’t want to become a front man with the rest of the band out of focus,” says Lynn. “By taking out the vocals we made the entire band the focus.”

This democratic move was a big deal considering the focus given to their lyrics in the past. And yet despite the big swing in content the band feels they’ve returned to their roots musically.

“It’s just important to have our integrity,” continued Flynn, the part time graphic designer. “Playing music, and making a bit of money while we do it.”


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