Six years ago, I was 16 years old and interviewed my first band: The Dirty Pages. A Toronto rock trio, their show took place on Halloween and they decided to dress in drag. And I (kid you not) went to this interview dressed as a cross between a Playboy and Easter bunny. Unfortunately, The Dirty Pages folded but that’s okay, cause now Toronto has a band called The Dirty Mags. For this interview, I did not dress like a naughty rabbit, but things were still a little dirty.
Up a steep set of steps behind the Horseshoe I am met with a stack of porno mags and a band of dishevelled dudes. During our conversation, an obligatory bottle of red wine is passed around and then my recorder dies.
I tell The Dirty Mags about The Dirty Pages and the coincidence makes them laugh. Although the two bands have no relation, both names materialized from the ultimate super group—The Dirty Mac. Consisting of John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchell, the band was a one-off coming together of great rock legends in 1968. “I think Justin thought of it; we needed a name for a show and we didn’t really put much thought to it at all and Justin said ‘The Dirty Mags,’” explains bass player, Greg Louis.
Signed by White Girl Records, the band, consisting of bass player Greg Louis, guitarist Justin Lemaire, drummer Peter Gosling and singer Mike Kaminski are all in their early 20s and based in Toronto. Together for just over a year, they haven’t released an EP yet, but garnered attention for their live performances.
Greg, Justin and Peter (who isn’t here for the interview, held back at his job as a hairstylist) have known each other for years before they started playing music together. Like any good modern day relationship, it began on the internet, “We jammed for awhile and we were going to sing until eventually we realized we weren’t good enough singers so we put an ad up on Craigslist,” Greg says with a laugh.
Several keyword band searches later, Mike came across the ad and responded. It was time to rock n’ roll.
“We always loved the idea of dirty and beautiful for sound; the grungy sound but then the prettiness,” describes Mike. The garage-grunge rock is intertwined with the melodramatic pop to form a sound like that of The Strokes and The Libertines. Other influences they credit include Nirvana, Elvis, Sonic Youth and Roxy Music.
While both The Libertines and The Strokes have been linked with being the “sound” of their respective cities; The Libertines with London and The Strokes with the early 2000s in New York City, where do The Dirty Mags fit in Toronto? “If there is a sound for Toronto, I don’t think we fit into it really,” Greg says. “It’s hard to identify music by cities and geographically now because of the internet,” Justin expands. “You can listen to someone now just as easily across the world as you can your neighbour.”
For the past year the focus has been on performing across Toronto, including a packed crowd for their Canadian Music Week show at the Silver Dollar Room and a Canada wide tour is being prepared for the summer, with a consideration for stopping in NYC, if the musical signs align.
Surrounded by porno mags, I have to ask before I leave what their favourite dirty magazine is? They’re still trying to decide on a collective answer, but they definitely prefer the vintage.
The Dirty Mags perform on April 20th at The Velvet Underground (510 Queen St. W). Check them out on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/thedirtymags
~ Ivana Markotic
~ Photography by Amy Muir