Grand Theft Bus
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Grand Theft Bus

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Grand Theft Bus are one of those bands who just can't stop touring. This summer, the East Coast rockers have played back and forth across Canada, down through the United States and they have no plans of slowing down any time soon. And that's exactly the way they like it.
But all of this touring can cause problems in other aspects of being a rock band — namely, when it comes to recording. It's been almost nine months since the band started recording Flies In The No Fly with Laurence Currie (Sloan, Ghandharvas, Wintersleep), who also recorded the band's previous release, Birth Of Confusion. While their new album was originally due out in the new year, Grand Theft Bus couldn't help but answer the call from the road.
"We've been working on it since January," says bassist Graeme Walker, with regard to the album-in-progress. "It's gonna be a bit of a change from the last one — but not too drastic. It's much more concise and much more song-oriented. I think there's been more attention to detail as well and it's a better sounding record. We're looking to release in the new year."
One of Grand Theft Bus' more notable shows over the next little while takes place Friday night at the fifth annual Evolve Festival. The three-day music and social awareness festival is much more than meets the eye. Taking place in rural Antigonish, Nova Scotia, the festival offers artists from a variety of musical styles on five outdoor stages, from folk to funk, hip-hop to bluegrass.
"Evolve is a festival about diversity — that's been the idea from day one," says Walker. The negative reaction comes from people who have more than likely never been to a festival like this. The whole idea behind it is to bridge the gaps between live performing bands and DJs and to bring awareness to pressing issues that affect all of us. If people want to shun this idea and think that they're above the idea that the world we live in needs some drastic changes, they're wrong."
Evolve isn't the only upcoming event where Grand Theft Bus will perform alongside big name acts — they've secured themselves a mid-card slot between Contrived and The Constantines during the latter's upcoming two-night stand in Halifax, on September 25 at The Marquee Club.
The decision to include Grand Theft Bus on such a bill has some Halifax music devotees wondering why the supposed "jam band" have been included on this bill. This suggestion, according to Walker, is the result of word of mouth and negative connotations towards the "jam band" genre.
"The show with The Constantines will be a blast," he says. "We're big fans. I assume that the people wondering how or why we're on the bill have never heard our band before, or definitely haven't heard the band in the last year. The 'jam band' term is pretty much irrelevant in this case. It's funny that human nature dictates that people put labels on things — it's just music — simple as that. I get the feeling that maybe people feel that we're intruding on some aspect of their lives by being involved with a show like this. There's too much negativity in the world as is for us to waste time validating these petty concerns. People turning up their noses at something before they've heard it strikes me as juvenile. Listen to it, and if you decide you don't like it, fair enough, but don't knock it until you try it. It won't change the fact that we're going to have a great time playing the show, though."
Following their stints at Evolve and with The Constantines, Grand Theft Bus still have no plans of slowing down. They still have to complete their Flies In The No Fly, and then it's time to hit the road once again.
"We've had an incredibly busy summer and this will continue into the fall in support of the new record," says Walker. "We'll probably take a month off in the winter to write some more new music and avoid traveling in the nasty weather — we had a bad year for that last year."
- Chartattack.com


NEW MUSIC
The Bus rides again
After a long delay Grand Theft Bus launches second CD



BY GRANT KERR
Telegraph-Journal

Grand Theft Bus may have jumped the gun by naming its first album Birth of Confusion, back in 2003.

Given what the New Brunswick rockers have been through in the last year, it's a title that would have been perfect for their brand new release, had it not already been used.

"This has been the most stressful time we have ever been through," says GTB guitarist Tim Walker.

The new album was supposed to come out last summer, but Walker, brother Graeme Walker on bass, guitarist Dennis Goodwin and drummer Bob Deveau ended up stumbling through an obstacle course of illness, studios, breakups and endless touring.

"It was a logistical nightmare," Tim Walker said.

The band started out recording in Halifax, but also laid down tracks in Fredericton and Moncton over the course of about eight months.

But finally, Flies in the No Fly, GTB's sophomore effort, is being released on Feb. 22 (March 15 nation-wide on MapleMusic). And it's well worth the wait.

It's tight, it's musical, it's fascinating, and it rocks!

The band started recording last January with Laurence Currie (Sloan) who produced the band's debut.

Over the ensuing months, as the band kept touring, many of the songs were scrapped. The Bus boys just lost interest in playing them.

In the mean time, Goodwin had come down with a nasty case of hepatitis A during a tour of Ontario last February.

"He was Crayola yellow," Walker said, grinning.

But Goodwin's illness was no laughing matter. It took him a full month to recover after he checked himself into a hospital in Hamilton. He had to play a gig the night before sitting down and couldn't even make it into a Steel Town diner for breakfast.

"Screw the Atkins diet, if you want to lose weight, just get Hep A," Goodwin said, dryly.

(Courtesy Grand Theft Bus)
The cover of Grand Theft Bus' new CD Flies in the No Fly

At the time, Goodwin had also recently suffered the break-up with a long-term girlfriend and the loss of his grandmother three weeks earlier.

Older and wiser now, the band has more determination than ever as it gears up for more endless touring, in support on Flies in the No Fly.

Walker describes the 11-song Flies as "a cross-section of an evolution."

It's an apt description. Grand Theft Bus has always gone its own way in its five-year career. The band built a large cult following through its constant touring throughout the Maritimes and into Ontario.

Although it started out as something of a jam band that played songs with no end, the group is a lot tighter now, focusing more on songs than on soloing. It's a process that started with Birth and continues with Flies.

Part of the evolution has come through the band's maturity. In the early years they were all Phish fans, a band that would jam for hours. Their listening tastes ran accordingly.

But these days, GTB members are just as likely to be listening to Tortoise, Radiohead, Stars, or Iron and Wine.

"We're all going like this," Walker said, spreading his arms wide as he explained the band member's listening tastes. "But we're still keeping it together."

It's a continuation of where Birth of Confusion left off too. While the group was once considered a jam band, the band is trying to distance itself from its songs-with-no-end past.

"We still have trouble with the jam band tag," Walker said ruefully.

"We barely improvise at all anymore," Goodwin added, as he and Walker sipped coffee in a Saint John diner. "We like to play songs. I can get a lot more out of a four-minute tune than an 18-minute jam."

Right from the catchy lead-off track, Room in Your Brain, Flies is accessible, but not formulaic. The Walker brothers sweet harmonies are all over it and the band's songwriting is increasingly solid.

By the middle of the album, GTB weigh in with a cut called Silence in which the guitars sound like a circus calliope run amok with Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. And it works.

The poppier sounds may be a bit of a tough sell for some of the band's long-time fans who haven't forgiven them for going in more of a song-oriented, dare it be said, mainstream direction.

But, quite frankly, they don't care. They aren't much interested in playing their old songs anymore, anyway.

"It's a hard line," Walker said. "Our fans want to hear it but we don't want to play it anymore."

Goodwin is also playing keyboards now and Deveau is tinkering with electric drums, which show up on the album.

But the band still has the DIY attitude of the early days, is vacillating over whether to release a single, and they can't decide on whether to do a video.

"We're still not shooting for the stars. We're still just about no compromise," said Walker, who at age 30 is the band's elder statesman.

Goodwin, at 23, is the baby of the band.
He's much more happy with Flies than Birth.

"The first one seemed way too clean. This time, it was about cranking the amps up."

Several of the tracks, like Room in Your Brain, Mannequin, and Friend were recorded pretty much live of the floor.

"You can hear the wonkiness on some of the songs," Walker said, proudly.


- Telegraph Journal


Grand Theft Image
Forget the 'jam band' label; Grand Theft Bus releases a concise second CD

Grand Theft Bus is all over the map. Not only does the popular band have connections throughout the Maritimes, they recorded their latest album all over the place, too.

Graeme Walker, GTB bassist and vocalist, says finally getting Flies in the No Fly done was a relief.

"Long story short, logistically it was tough to get done because we were recording in three cities," he said. The band worked in Moncton, Halifax, and from their home, Fredericton.

The band started working on the album last January with a break in the middle to tour Canada and play the New York-based moe.down festival.

They would often work on the album for two weeks straight, take a week or so off, then go back in the studio for more.

Grand Theft Bus - Walker, his brother Tim on guitar and vocals, Dennis Goodwin on guitar and vocals, and Bob Deveau on drums - are known for their live sound more than anything else.

And while there's no denying the band's reach when it comes to travel and appeal, don't accuse their music of being unformed and unfocussed. In short, don't call them a Jam Band.

Their improvisational style has led the band to be labelled the J word by some, but Walker refutes that, and says he doesn't know that it means anything anyway.

"The whole jam band thing, I can see why we'd get lumped into that, more so two years ago. But I saw Blue Rodeo last year, and they were playing 40 minute songs. Does that make them a 'jam band?' "As soon as you get stuck with a label, you're stuck with it forever. There are people I'm sure who hate us because we get called a 'jam band,' and haven't even heard us. We just want to play music we like." The band might be shedding that evil 'jam band' term anyway. Walker told this writer in an interview months ago that the new album would feature shorter, more concise songs than they are currently known for. He attributes it to simply growing as a band.

The CD was recorded under the watchful eye of Laurence Currie, who produced their first effort, Birth of Confusion.

"From an artistic standpoint, you're always trying to grow," Walker said.

Of course, growth isn't really an option for a band that has toured the country twice and plays upwards of 150 shows a year. It just happens.

Labels aside, the band does tend to experiment onstage. So does it present a problem, capturing that immediacy of a live performance in the studio?

No, says Walker. He says the band, who were anxious to record, had an excess of songs ironed out before they hit the studio. "In terms of arrangements, they didn't change much [in the studio]," though he adds that band does experiment a bit during one section of the album.

The album will be released to local independent stores on Feb. 22. MapleMusic, who distributes Grand Theft Bus's material nationally, will have it in the bigger chains in March. "The Bus," as they are known by fans, are one of many independent acts distributed through MapleMusic. Walker says it's a good system because the band has national distribution and promotion, but can keep their independence.

"They [MapleMusic] don't expect a million dollars in sales each year," he explains. "They just hear something they like and pick it up.



- HERE Weekly


From the Charlottetown Guardian

East Coast quartet releases sophomore CD

(FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11)

In a matter of days Flies in the No Fly, the much anticipated sophomore CD from Grand Theft Bus, will make its way to the new release section of your local music retailer.

If you appreciate imaginative, well-crafted pop/rock with some interesting twists and turns you’d be well advised to pluck this set from the racks, plunk down your plastic and pop it into the nearest player.

Since the release of their debut album, Birth of Confusion, which was by no means lacking, this East Coast quartet has evolved into one of the region’s most interesting acts, a fact evidenced by the band’s growing fan base, which stretches from St. John’s to Vancouver and down into the Eastern U.S.

They continue the grand rock tradition of cherrypicking the choicest of elements from several different genres of pop music and moulding them into something that sounds fresh and new.

What they offer up here is an engaging set of originals that alternate between melodic pop gems, quirky little rockers and experimental rock jams that go in some interesting directions. Imagine, if you will, a cross between NRBQ, Modest Mouse, XTC and Toad The West Sprocket, with a little Rheostatics thrown into the music.

For all that it’s a very accessible mix and I don’t have any difficulty imagining a number of these tracks getting airplay. The first three tracks said radio to me one after the other.

In their own description for Flies In the No Fly the band, or rather their handlers, suggest there are songs here you’ll find yourself humming after the very first listen. Damn it if they weren’t right.

This MapleMusic release easily ranks as one of the most enjoyable offerings I’ve come across this year.

Grand Theft Bus will have their P.E.I. Launch for this CD later this month.


Doug Gallant - Charlottetown Guardian


Discography

Birth of Confusion - 2003
Flies in the No Fly - 2005
Made Upwards - 2008

Photos

Bio

"Have you ever watched a band play live and thought that the musicians were meant to play together? If not, then you should seek out Grand Theft Bus. The machine-like drumming of Bob Deveau is perfectly paired with Graeme Walker's precision bass lines. Add to that the tasteful chord progressions of Tim Walker's guitar and the many layers of Dennis Goodwin's chaotic and scattered guitar and synth lines, and you have the makings of one of Canada's most exciting, intense and original bands. If you like rock music that is intelligent and fun with interesting lyrics, tight vocal harmonies and indie/pop/rock sensibilities...then you will enjoy Grand Theft Bus."