goin Down (OFFICIAL VIDEO)The Illuminatti as TOLD BY BY CHRIS ROLFE
Les Godfrey, "Guitar / lead Vocals" - Nick Sewell, (Bass / Backing Vocals) - Jim Gering, (Drums / Backing Vocals)
The Illuminati: a secretive society formed 200 years ago by shadowy masons and money barons. Their intent: to use power and influence to cause war and social upheaval across the globe, all in the diabolical hope that a single world order would emerge with their peers at the helm. It's the kind of stuff that conspiracy enthusiasts have wet dreams over. And look out -- it now seems this gang of stonecutting thugs has employed heavy, boogie-laden riff rock to help subdue the Canadian territories. After all, it takes more than SARS and a single retarded cow to bring a country to its knees. "We'd just like to thank the R&D department," jokes bassist Nick Sewell (son of eye columnist John Sewell). "We wouldn't be here without them. And they really did a fantastic job with that latest batch of BSE -- marketing's gotten some really great feedback."
Conspiracies and beef industry-baiting aside, The Illuminati (the Toronto power trio, that is) have made tremendous strides towards musical domination in less than a year. Rising from the ashes of the almighty Tchort, Sewell and crew hit the ground running, playing their first show with Danko Jones mere days after the split. The band has gigged constantly ever since, and now boast a self-titled EP out via October 32nd/Sonic Unyon. But where ex-Tchort singer Eric Coucke (a.k.a. Ash Lee Blade) dove back into the Euro-metal deep end with his new band Cloven Blade, the remaining Tchort members looked to classic 'eavy rock three-piece acts -- Cream, Mountain, Grand Funk, and Sir Lord Baltimore -- for inspiration. Yet, even Tchort's Maiden-esque final release, Government Issue Rock 'n' Roll Vol. II, hinted at the shuffle boogie to come. Was Tchort's destruction thus due to a tumultuous final battle between '70s and '80s ideals?
On My Way Back Home Again (OFFICIAL VIDEO)"I've never heard it summed up quite so bluntly," Sewell laughs. "It's kinda true." "Eric is way more into big shows and crafting epic metal tunes, which is great," guitarist Les Godfrey says. "But Nick and I are more into the instant gratification of a riff part. For me, the first Government Issue EP, with its live spontaneity, was the best Tchort release." Strangely, the breakup created The Illuminati's unique vocal sound by default. Although Godfrey jokes that he and Sewell sing in unison to be audible over the band's sizable amps, Sewell confesses there is a more logistical explanation. "The Illuminati EP was originally supposed to be a Tchort disc," he says. "Not that the vocals are horrible, but they were originally going to be back-ups for a lead that wasn't used. But we soon found ourselves needing a disc to sell on tour. So we went on a blitz, re-recording guitars and mixing all six songs in one day. We still do the three-way vocal thing, but now we do it better."
Tchort drummer Mike Borges stuck it out for a while with The Illuminati before jetting to pursue less aggressive, yogic pastimes. The subsequent addition of powerhouse drummer Jim Gering, who not only plays with Nice Cat but also with the aforementioned Cloven Blade ("It's a touchy subject," the quiet Gering says, "and, no, I'm not gonna say which band brings out the most cougars"), rounded out The Illuminati's muscular sound. Indeed, his bandmates herald Gering as the "star of the show" on the band's forthcoming, Ian Blurton-produced full-length. "It's great now, because Nick and I don't have to rock out so much," Godfrey boasts. "We just let Jim go crazy. And the album's a real commando mission: 12 songs in 33 minutes." Ah yes, here we go with the number three again. In The Illuminati's world, this digit is the sum of what Sewell calls "sacred geometry." The band's logo also features an all-seeing eye set among three outstretched hands -- a cryptic allusion to the fact that everybody is left-handed in this group. But maybe they've caught onto something with all this three stuff. After all, the number figures prominently in at least one major religion.
"All the best bands were three-pieces," Sewell stresses. "After watching the new DVD, I'd even consider Led Zeppelin a trio -- at least whenever Robert Plant shuts up. "There's more air and definitely way more dynamics. It's just way easier to drop it down to nothing and then come screaming back." "I thought I'd have to start over-playing to compensate," Godfrey says. "But it's actually the opposite -- with only one guitar I can just play one chord and let the bass and drums do all this other magic." Music scribes have made much of The Illuminati's prog influences as well. The band acknowledges this to a point, but as Godfrey admits, even he has to fast-forward through the really indulgent parts of his Yes albums. Early '70s kids' shows -- you know, the kind that were cross-marketed to stoner teens still baked on Saturday mornings -- are more The Illuminati's speed. "In addition to trippy monsters," Godfrey says, "Secret Railroadhad this really heavy music, with distorted guitars and melodic parts that short attention spans could deal with." "And TVOntario shows like Dr. Snuggles, Eureka and Vision On were great," Sewell says. "The music was kinda like us -- heavy, psychedelic, with pretty, sing-along melodies." Fair enough, but in addition to watching old cartoons and listening to prog rock, are there any other rituals one must endure to join The Illuminati's fold? Drummer Gering is again evasive.
"I can't comment on that," he says. "I'm still healing."