By Beatrice Broderick-Auger
Dawson students Mari Hutten and Johnny Giancaspro’s band, Primitive Notions, played a set on Oct. 10 at Piranha Bar in downtown Montreal, a small and pretty lame venue with no setting, a wannabe club/bar. The turn out was good for Primitive Notion’s part of the evening, with approximately 50 people standing far away from the stage not daring treating this bar as a club.
The one man with his guitar opening the night was dreadful and not only because of his high-pitched-bad voice, but also because of the crappy sound systems that emphasized it.
Next up, Primitive Notion. Thankfully, they asked the crowd if they could clearly hear the signer to finally get somewhat of an audibly awesome show. Several days later, the soul/post-punk/bossa nova band was happy to answer some questions.
First off, how did the group start and how did you find each other?
Mari Hutten: We found each other on Craigslist. No! That’s not true. Primitive Notion began with me, Mari Hutten [vocals/guitar], at first writing and recording songs in my basement and home studio. I had given up on being in other people’s bands because they never worked out, people would not rehearse or commit to anything. So, I said: “screw it, I’m gonna begin my own thing.” Johnny Giancaspro [bass] who was in some of my courses at Dawson had been in other bands, as well, and at one point he wasn’t in one, so I asked him if he wanted to join me. He first joined as a drummer and I was supposed to be the bass player, but I couldn’t play bass and sing at the same time, so I found a bass player. The problem was that bass player was in university studying Psychology. So you can imagine; he had absolutely no time for band practice. We also had another guitarist that was English, but he got fired from his company so his visa expired and he had to leave the country. In the end Johnny asked if it would be okay to switch to bass, a friend of his [Jesse Enright] played the guitar and joined the band, and in the end Johnny asked his brother, Evan, to play drums. Basically we’ve had this [Mari Hutten, vocals & guitar; Johnny Giancaspro, bass; Evan Giancaspro, drums; and Jesse Enright, guitar] formation since February, or March of this year.
Would you like to expand and are you looking for new members?
Hutten: No, although we admire Broken Social Scene and Arcade Fire, we don’t dig the idea of 35 members in a band. Indie rock became an orchestral thing rather than a gang or group-of-friends thing. In the 60s, everybody wanted to be in a band with friends in which vocals, bass, guitar and drums was enough. Now it’s all: “let’s have five guitarists playing the same thing!”
Where does your inspiration come from when writing your songs?
Hutten: Usually, at the worst possible times, like at 4 a.m., when you have to wake up in four hours to start off your day. Yesterday, I wrote two full lyrics and half a song at 5 a.m. Sometimes Johnny calls me and shows me some chord progression or riff at random hours. But you just get that melody or verse that you HAVE to spit out. I don’t know where melodies come from, but it’s easy to define where lyrics come from. In our case, they’re either from personal experience or observing other people or society. We use sarcasm in some of our songs. Especially the ones that give a kick at western society like “At Least” and “All I Gotta Say” (this one is not on MySpace yet).
Are some new songs on their way?
Hutten: There are always new songs on the way. We write about three to four songs a month. We end up using only one or two, though. The rest goes to that place called “the void.” The songs we now have on our MySpace are old-ish. We’re recording new ones this fall and they’ll be up by November or December.
Is this a hobby for you or would you like to make this your career and maybe one day signing with a label?
Hutten: We definitely would like to make this a career. We’re trying, but Montreal is a difficult city. Very difficult. That’s why we’re in CEGEP. If it was easier we’d have dropped out and we would be playing gigs every day. And yes, we’d like to get signed by a label. As much as we like the freedom of independence, it sucks to do things by ourselves. And it also sucks to play at shitty venues with bad sounding guys who are too lazy to do a sound check. Being signed allows you to focus on the music, although with less freedom, but being able to do what we want to do full-time is what we care about.
Any gigs soon? When and where?
We’re booking in November and December at some places. L’Absynthe may be one of the venues. To find out our dates check out our MySpace http://www.myspace.com/primitivenotion and our Facebook group “Primitive Notion.” We’ll keep you posted.