Celebrity Traffic
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Celebrity Traffic

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band EDM Rock


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"Drink, Play, Live"

“It used to be a tradition,” keyboardist Brandon DeLyzer said of the trio’s ramshackle practices, which almost always included the extreme consumption of alcohol.
“But we have more stuff to do these days. We have actual shows. And we want to put on a good show, so I think that’s why we control it.”
Though its extracurricular activities have become less pronounced as the band gets longer in the tooth, there’s an element to the electro-rock group that remains an appealing element to Celebrity Traffic. “We have gotten weirder,” said singer-guitarist Sean Baker, “but it’s now at the weirdness level we’d like it to stay at.”
The trio, which also includes bassist Joel Mellish, took shape two years ago during an impromptu jam session that lasted for hours.
Originally a five-piece rock band, the current guise of Celebrity Traffic came into being when three of its members ultimately decided to bow out. Faced with the decision to renew the lease on their jam spot or go their separate ways, the three friends let fate decide.
In what was its make-or-break final jam session, the trio of Baker, DeLyzer and Mellish tried playing without the aid of a drummer. Six hours later, a new version of Celebrity Traffic was born. “The last jam we were going to do, Brandon came and had his computer, so we told him to put down a crappy beat so we could goof around,” Baker said. Out of that jam, three or four songs emerged.
“It was awesome. Mind-blowing. The next day we rented the studio again for another month.”
The trio’s early motivation was simply to play music and get drunk. They could go out to the bar and spend money on alcohol, Baker said, or do something constructive with their time — like playing music. The bonus? Practising in private meant they still could hit the bottle hard. With their energy and endurance at a fever pitch, sometimes a single song would last hours during a practice, Baker said. “We’d end up sweaty and shirtless and drunk, but it was fun.”
The group made its live debut in 2009 with an appearance at Rifflandia. It wasn’t an earthshattering gig, according to Baker and DeLyzer, but it gave the group motivation to continue. Their self-titled debut, a six-song EP, arrived in March of last year.
We Bleed Blood, which Celebrity Traffic is celebrating with a release concert on Friday at Lucky Bar, is deemed a better example of the war this act is capable of waging on stage. “The new album captures it more readily,” said Baker, a veteran of Langham Court Theatre and Victoria Operatic Society productions who is in his final year at the University of Victoria. “It’s also more complex. There’s more harmonies and cool [stuff] that we didn’t have time to do last time.”
“Or know what to do,” DeLyzer interjected. “We didn’t know what we were doing to start with. Now that we have sort of an idea, we know what we are going for, rather than, ‘Oh, this kind of works.’ ”
Celebrity Traffic has developed a solid following in B.C., a reputation borne from its mustsee live show. And while the group would like its new album to take off, the purpose of the group has always been to be a notable live act above everything else.
We Bleed Blood is available via the trio’s website (celebritytraffic.ca) for a paywhat-you-want fee, with $1 as the starting point. Baker and DeLyzer would be happy if fans offered to pay more for the record, but they aren’t fretting from a financial perspective. Getting the music out to people, new listeners and longtime fans is much more important.
“That’s why we’re putting the album out by donation,” Baker said. “We want people to get it, and if they can’t afford it or don’t feel like paying, at least they can pay to come see the show. Because that’s where we shine.”
That anyone would pay for We Bleed Blood or even be interested in seeing a Celebrity Traffic concert still blows away members of the group. As kids, Baker and Mellish (who grew up together in Shawnigan Lake) and DeLyzer (who hails from Kamloops) never imagined life as young twentysomethings playing out like this, so every album or concert ticket sold is gravy.
That said, the three friends have worked hard at their craft. DeLyzer started playing in bands when he was 13, while Baker and Mellish caught the rock music bug when they were just nine. “We were a Nirvana cover band,” Baker said of his first group. “I didn’t have enough money to buy a bass guitar so my dad gave me his old electric guitar, and we just took two strings off of it.”
The only leftover from those days is the DIY spirit and funfirst mandate, Baker said. “I’m guilty of having a laugh when I should get serious, for sure. But we take what we do seriously, only insofar as we want people to be stoked when we play. If that means we have to be way more crazy than they are to make them see it, then that’s what we do.”
The members of Celebrity Traffic aren’t the only ones in danger during a concert by the group. Fans often come under fire, too. Baker said some of his performing arts peers have been co-opted during the trio’s concerts, arriving with the best concert-going intentions and leaving with the nastiest of impending hangovers. That’s typical of a night with Celebrity Traffic. - The Times Colonist

"On Tour With Celebrity Traffic"

On Tour with Celebrity Traffic

by Jeff McAllister

We’re two hours from gig time, an hour and a half outside of Victoria, when Sean Baker, lead singer for Celebrity Traffic, gets the text from the band’s promotion company.

How did ticket sales go?

“Tickets? Did you get any tickets?” he asks bandmate Brandon Delyzer.

“Nope. Nothing.”


The ferry rocks precariously as we sip warm beer masked by styrofoam cafeteria cups—Baker, Delyzer, Joel Mellish, and myself. The three musicians make up Celebrity Traffic, an electro-rock outfit from Victoria B.C. They’re supposed to be playing a show at Vancouver’s Media Club at 8:30 tonight. And half drunk, two hours behind schedule, we’ve just learned that the band is responsible for a hundred tickets that never got sold.

When I first met Delyzer two years ago, he was finishing off a poetry degree at the University of Victoria. His writing was filled with male bravado—drugs, sex and rock’n’roll. Apparently not a lot has changed. When I called to arrange an interview, I was expecting something casual—a couple beers at the end of a rehearsal. Definitely not a three-day mini-tour of Victoria, Vancouver, and Whistler B.C. But Celebrity Traffic is a band of extremes: their music, loaded with screechy synth and industrial moans, is best played loud. Their lyrics drip with rockstar charisma: pills, booze, women, and cigarettes.

“If you want a real story, you’ll come on the road with us, see how we party.” Delyzer said. How could I refuse?

We sit on the upper deck of the 5 p.m. sailing from Schwartz Bay to Tsawwassen and watch peach-flavored cigarette smoke get sucked away by the wind. Delyzer’s going off about the industry—how this isn’t the first time that they’ve had tickets issues, how the hell are they expected to be responsible for a venue in another city anyhow? This is so typical bourgeoning musician, to make it halfway across the Georgia Strait, on route to a gig that you’ve promised to play for little more than gas money and a small cut of the door sales, only to have the promoter bite you in the ass at the last minute. And to top things off, Baker’s two days into a bout of strep throat.

“Fuck it,” Mellish finally says. The argument stops. “Tonight I’m actually excited to play.”

Celebrity Traffic is a band founded on dexterity. Mellish and Baker grew up in Shawnigan Lake, a community 45-minutes north of Victoria, where they cut their teeth playing in a series of punk, prog, and hardcore bands. When the two moved south, they hooked up with Brandon Delyzer, originally from Kamloops, B.C., as well as two other local musicians, and started Celebrity Traffic. The five-piece began as a rock’n’roll jam band that met weekly in a cheap warehouse space. But, one day, the lead guitarist and drummer quit unexpectedly. With a week left in their rental contract, the three remaining members decided to give things one final go. Delyzer brought in a computer and a few extra keyboards to flesh out the percussion section. After a six-hour musical metamorphosis, the band’s new sound was born.

The ferry docks with an hour and a half until doors. By now the beer’s run dry. The boys never play sober, so we race to Tsawwassen for a quick top up before sound check. There are a half-dozen hits of E in the back, but we decide those are best saved for the last night of tour. Delyzer drives for safety’s sake—his mid-’90s Volvo is packed so full of equipment that it scrapes pavement at every corner. A strong headwind causes the car to lilt to the right.

On route to the gig, music’s never talked about directly but permeates every conversation. Sean will be going off about his philosophy courses at UVic, then pause mid-sentence to comment on an inverted crash cymbal effect in a !!! song, that wobble bass that Justice loves so much, or why Chromeo’s success relies entirely on the sexiness of Dave 1’s perfect enunciation. The guys are subconscious theorists, whether they’d admit it or not. Everything played in the car is picked apart for structure and execution.

Earlier in the trip, I asked Delyzer about the group’s musical intention. Artistically speaking, what is the band trying to achieve?

“Our music’s about a lifestyle. It’s about having a good time,” he said. Celebrity Traffic has a sound meant for nightclubs—strobe lights and sticky dance floors. One half Death from Above 1979, one half Holy Fuck, Celebrity Traffic isn’t a band you put on to study intensely; you put it on when you’re ready to sweat. Delyzer gave a response that I’d yet to hear from a musician, but it made an odd amount of sense: “Let’s put it this way, people used to go out to dance all the time. They’d take the night off to tango or waltz or whatever. I want to get back to that. Well, obviously not the waltzing, but that ritual of it; going out, letting loose, and forgetting everything for a while.”

When we arrive at Media Club, there’s already a line-up outside the door. The band has about 15 minutes to haul things on stage and perform a quick line check, so we back onto the curb and strip the Volvo in the middle of the crowd. A couple young Mexican girls snap photos, and once we’re inside the guys admit that setup has always been the most stressful part of the show.

“After that, it’s all easy.” Delyzer huffs as we lug all five keyboards onto the stage. The guys shoot ideas back and forth on how to lay things out—what makes the most sense for this particular venue.

“We discuss the setlists for gigs over a month ahead of time.” Sean says. “The first song is always sort of a jam.” The group’s aware of its eclectic sound and wants to get an idea of what the mix is like before moving onto the hits. How much reverb is needed? How much sustain? “We’re constantly acute to what the crowd wants,” he says. For a band so focused on its live show, this makes sense. Performance is the reason they write these songs—the reason for their existence. Once the crew is setup, a DJ kicks things off. We sneak to the back of the bar, into solace of thick dark lager.

This gig goes well, and the despite the lack of tickets sales the bar fills up. We grab a few more drinks and wait until the crowd dissipates to repack the gear. One of the Mexican girls from out front pesters Baker, who waffles on whether or not to tell her about his strep throat—we do need a place to stay after all. Finally the boys get a proposal from the few girls that we’d met earlier in Tsawwassen, and we head back there for the night. Some sleep, some don’t.

The next morning things look better. We grab a late breakfast, go over the night’s setlist, and leave mid-afternoon for Whistler. This time the promotion company has taken care of everything, including a room in Whistler Village. Or such was the plan… We’re still in downtown Vancouver when Delyzer receives a text message from the manager: He’s decided to pull chute on the Whistler show—for personal reasons. So has the supporting DJ for the night.

The band can take door sales, but they’ll have to pay the sound guy out of their own pocket. The room at the Holiday Inn has been paid for already. There’s nothing specified about gas money.

“Don’t text back.” Baker says, “We’ll deal with this once we get there.”

The car is silent for a few minutes as Mellish, now driving, continues north. One gets a sense that the band has dealt with this sort of upset before.

When the trio released its first record, a six-track self-titled album, back in 2010, everything came out of the group’s pocket. $4,500 in studio time, materials, and post-production. Delyzer had to sell his motorcycle to pay for the CD.

“I wouldn’t do a physical again. It’s not worth it. But we wanted to have a CD. At least we’d have something to give to people at shows.” In the last few months, Delyzer’s scored a fulltime job managing a local studio, Monster Records. He’s honed his skills mixing such acts as Bigger Fish Than Guns and The Opera Club and has begun to apply his savvy to his own band. With that overhead substantially reduced, the band is just beginning to get back on track.

“Let’s just take advantage of this. This just became a Celebrity Traffic show, we can play for as long as we’d like.” Baker breaks the silence in car. The boys nod in agreement.

The smallest show Celebrity Traffic ever played was a gig just outside of Edmonton, Alberta. There was no local opener—a crucial draw when a relatively unknown acts comes from out of town—and the bar was about 20 minutes from the downtown core. The boys ended up performing for an audience of three. Nonetheless, they claimed it was one of the best nights of their western Canadian tour.

“The key is to just go with it. Realize that you’ve got the stage and equipment to yourself. We just rocked it. It was the best jam we’ve ever had.” Mellish said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to make the most of things and have fun.”

If the band can cut costs, Whistler’s still a possibility. Mellish calls his girlfriend, who’d hoped to work the door for a small cut, and tells her not to come. They figure they’ll negotiate with the venue, see if they can split the sound guy two ways.

“I’d just like to be able to pay for my beer,” Mellish says.

And with that it’s decided. We’ve got six hits of E, a few dollars in gas allowance, and a pre-paid room at the Holiday Inn. The car rumbles and the fuel gauge lights up as we pull into the one-way lane snaking its way across the Lions Gate Bridge. February rain pounds the windshield. There’s no going back. - Gray Owl Point


We Bleed Blood - October 14th 2011
Celebrity Traffic EP - March 26th 2010



Celebrity Traffic

Sean Baker—Guitar/vocals/harmonica
Joel Mellish—Bass/keyboards/vocals
Brandon DeLyzer—Programming/drum machines/keyboards/vocals

“It's just an accident.”

In an effort to seem bigger, badder or better, many bands declare their legacy is founded on fate, supernatural intervention or destiny. When it comes to the formation of three year-old Victoria, British Columbia based rock-infused, funk-sparked electro trio Celebrity Traffic though, there's no such baloney.

Forged by three friends jamming for no real reason, this is a band that was never intended to exist. That said, with an instinctive union of disparate genres such as electro and funk-based sizzle over undulating improvisation-fuelled rock 'n' roll, there was enough spark to create something enduring, unique and virulently matchless. Ushering in that sonic diversity via debut independent full-length We Bleed Blood, DeLyzer affirms how looseness, subtlety and casual creativity is the impetus behind Celebrity Traffic.

“We don't plan anything, which is why there's such a focus on intuition and momentum. For the most part, we write together and now that we've played together for so long, we're always on the same channel. None of us really have to talk it out. Someone lays something down as the foundation, we build on it, jam it straight for two hours and than after we'll maybe talk about our favourite parts and how to make it a song.”

“This band was born from jamming,” adds Baker. “We took a bit of the hipster out of electro and paired it with growing up listening to grunge and hard rock. We're unpretentious about what we do because we want people to have fun.”

Forged on loose rehearsal hall fun that eventually graduated into full-fledged songs, as with many enduring musical legacies, Celebrity Traffic finds three friends not ready to kill their collective creativity; bonding over a musical moment of “screw it.”

“I joined as the keyboard player when we were a five piece rock band,” DeLyzer admits. “We mostly drank a giant bottle of booze each a night and wrote lo-fi rock songs once a week in a warehouse. One month, the drummer wanted to play Led Zeppelin and the lead guitarist moved to Montreal, so we pretty much decided the band was done.”

“We had one jam left and instead of wasting it, I brought my computer in, laid out some basic beats and we jammed six hours straight, writing half of our first EP that night,” he continues. “We really didn't know what the hell we were doing at all. Even now, we're still figuring out how to choke-hold our style but I guess the fun thing is that from day one, we've just played what we wanted because we were so lost.”

Inspired to forge on, the ensuing minutes turned into days, weeks and months of refining that union of rock and electronic flow. Initially evidenced on their eponymous EP, Celebrity Traffic has once again solidified those sessions and their overall progression into the tracks that comprise We Bleed Blood.

“The Celebrity Traffic sound is rock with a harder, dancier electro edge,” DeLyzer affirms. “Still, there's more sound scape to this album. It's not so cut and dry. While our EP was hard and dancy, this has those elements with emphasis on making people dance. That's our primary objective but we added in more musicality.”

Recorded and mixed by DeLyzer and mastered by Joby Baker at Baker Studios/Monster Records, We Bleed Blood is a definitive culmination of spirited inventiveness driven by undeniable musicianship. Going so far as to intentionally leave songs unfinished—allowing for immediate inspiration to strike and inviting unusual effects into the fold for dynamic experimentation—We Bleed Blood is the result of 200-plus hours of mixing tracks recorded on a bevy of revered vintage gear. Moreover, it's as fiery and tangibly exciting as it is crisp.

Despite its musical eclecticism however, Baker notes that the album's overall theme is quite direct. While far from conceptual, tracks such as upbeat, climax-driven “Humble Pie,” captivating “Serena” and rock-heavy lead single “Stone Crows” feature an underlying essence of discovering adult life.

“The lyrics are auto-biographical in the sense that I draw from my life and the feelings that I have, so there are elements of anger, fear, joy, sadness…you name it. It really runs the gamut,” Baker declares. “It's about someone in his mid-20's feeling anxious with nothing to feel anxious about. It reflects the way I feel a lot of the time, in that there are millions of opportunities and reasons to do what we do but our culture is so rife with indecision. By proxy, so am I. I just wanted to be authentic so I didn’t fictionalize anything or censor myself.”
To that extent, the threesome agree that their live performance maintains that sentiment: real, honest and heartfelt thanks to re-imagining each song as it feels at that second and letting their own bodies react to the sounds at hand—often resulting in bona