Hello Operator
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Hello Operator


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"Hello Operator CD Review: "The Breaks""

Album: The Breaks
Artist: Hello Operator
Label: Ampia Records
Rating: 4/5

Review: Hello Operator? Could you please connect me to some vibrant, neon-splashed pop-rock songs that'll propel me into a frenzy of '80s-inspired footwork? The Breaks is Hello Operator's latest EP, and by the sounds of the six tracks found on this little cherry-flavoured jube jube, the Toronto-based new-wave group knows how to pen some incredibly catchy tunes. From the moody number Chasing Satellites to the cooler-than-thou 55 Regrets, there's no song on The Breaks that doesn't utilize the same simple climactic choruses to tickle the taste buds. Before you know it, you'll be singing -- and dancing along -- to that mysterious voice coming out of your speakers - Edmonton Journal

"SOUNDS: Making the Rounds"

Hello Operator hits the road, with stop in Vegas, in support of new album


who: Hello Operator
when: 10 p.m. Saturday
where: Beauty Bar, 517 Fremont St.
tickets: $3 (598-1965)

Evan Huson wants to know what the weather's like in Oklahoma.

"Does it get warm there?" the Toronto native asks, his voice betraying a weary, besieged optimism, like a kid awaiting the results of a pop quiz that he knows he failed.

Sorry, dude, there's no relief in Tulsa.

Not this time of year.

Rather than battle icy roads and spotty crowds in a cramped van that could double as a Frigidaire, a lot of smaller touring bands take the holidays off.

But not Huson's group, hands-in-the-air electro rockers Hello Operator.

They're slowly headed from the frosty climes of their native Canada to these sunny parts, city by city, hoping for a break from the cold as soon as possible, not that their luck has been all that great here.

"We broke down twice right before we were supposed to get to Vegas," the keyboardist recalls of past stops here. "The third time that we came to Vegas was the first time that we actually drove into the city as opposed to being towed in."

Still, it's a breeze compared to making the rounds in the band's homeland.

"Canada is pretty rough for touring," Huson sighs. "I mean, it's like 10-12 hour drives between cities. That's the main appeal of touring in the U.S. We can get to a major city in a few hours, pretty much."

Hello Operator plans to spend all of this year on the road supporting its new release, "The Breaks," an album propelled by bright synth and snarling guitars that crest into radio-ready missives that you could shake both a derriere and a fist to.

Digital hand claps and whooshing keys lend the band a slight new wave bent, though their tunes burst apart at the seams with the arena rock hooks befitting of a Canuck Cheap Trick.

But for all its electronic embellishments, the disc still pulses with a visceral, lived-in edge that counters the sometimes sterile nature of machine music.

"We knew that we definitely wanted it to be a rock album," Huson says. "Mike (Condo, singer/guitarist) and I kind of got our start as a Cars-y type of band. It was pretty true to a Ric Ocasek vibe. We knew that we wanted to go with more organic drums and big guitar tones, but we still wanted some quirky synth. There's a digital side of keyboards and an analog, organic sound to keyboards, depending on what you play it through."

Because of this, the album works on two levels: On one hand, with its sky-high choruses, the band's tunes are immediate enough to hum after the first listen, but put some headphones on, and the mix deepens with layers of percolating sounds and an attention to detail that manifests itself in all sorts of shifting electronic textures.

"With our type of music, that's kind of the way that I see that it should work," Huson says. "It's like we're a river, but we're connected to an ocean, so we're not writing Kelly Clarkson songs, but we're all connected to this pop ideal. It stems from there."

True to Huson's words, Hello Operator actually opened for teen pop queen Hilary Duff on a Canadian arena tour a few years back, making them the rare band that can win over underground electro fashionistas and mainstream Disney radio devotees.

"It was pretty fun, actually," Huson recalls. "It was out of nowhere for all of us, something that was completely out of our context. All of sudden, we went from touring clubs in our crappy van to being in a bus with a big screen TV and bunks and everything -- never mind that we were playing for 10,000 people every night. I still don't even know what to say about it, and it was like two years ago. It's become part of the story of our band."

Since then, Hello Operator has gone back to slugging it out on the road in a beat-up van. They book their own tours, record and release their own albums and handle most aspects of running a band themselves.

They don't ask for much -- except for the occasional warm front.

"For us, we always played in punk bands, and that's what we've always known to do," Huson says of the band's self-sufficient approach. "We've never been ones to wait around for a record deal or management to take care of this and that. We record and we tour. That's what we do." - Las Vegas Review-Journal

"Hello Operator: Can I reach Elvis Costello and/or the Cars?"

Hello Operator
7 p.m. Sunday, December 30. Cicero's, 6691 Delmar Boulevard, University City.

By Annie Zaleski
Published on December 26, 2007

Don't hold it against Hello Operator that it's opened for Hilary Duff, Simple Plan and Loverboy: This Canadian duo specializes in the type of eye-popping keyboard-pop that made new-wave so much fun. On its new EP The Breaks, vocalist/guitarist Mike Condo and keyboardist/vocalist Evan Huson have created six well-crafted tunes that (most impressively) are slick and radio-ready without being soulless. "Chasing Satellites" is an infectious garage-stomp with a power-pop heart of gold, the strutting "Hot Step" could be an outtake from the Cars' early albums — down to the paranoid vocals, zooming synths and stutter-step riffs — and "Just Another Girlfriend" sounds like Hot Hot Heat dirty-dancing with the Darkness.

- Riverfront Times, St. Louis

"Cover Story: HELLO OPERATOR - Popping Up Everywhere"

This is the era of fun, danceable pop music. Twee is in, whatever
that means, as bands from Bearsuit to Architecture in Helsinki
and Los Campesinos are trading the bar for playgrounds,
producing a more juvenile sound seeped in a wacky everyone–in–
the–pot ethos. Yet, in another musical realm, electronic wizards
like Chromeo, Justice and Girl Talk are continuing to make dance
music sexy, but in a more tongue–in–cheek, light–hearted
manner. For the life of me, I would never have thought to refer to
my girlfriend as a ‘tenderoni’, but Chromeo see no problem in the
pasta–laced euphemism. Therefore, there are two musical
communities exploring immature themes filled with big choruses,
expansive melodies and sing–a–longs aplenty. And all in all, this
new sound is rather fun, isn’t it?

Resting somewhere in the middle is Hello Operator, a
Toronto–based duo that has seen a era of extensive growth
through the release of an independent EP. Now they’re back with
another EP, this one titled The Breaks, and it is due out in early
February. While Hello Operator avoid the fervent coke–addict style
of twee that the first group of bands exemplify and the overt and
somewhat obscene sexiness of the second group, the duo — Mike
Condo and Evan Huson — take elements of both to blend a sound
that is light–hearted, energetic and most importantly, intensely
danceable. Yet, amidst the blending of left and right, Hello
Operator incorporate melodies from all over the spectrum
including The Cars, The Ramones, Electric Six and Ween. “We like
a lot of music from the late ’70s and ’80s,” affirms Condo. “Bands
like Depeche Mode, the Cure and the Cars have always been really
big influences. Mike and I are both really into synths, so we’re still
always listening to bands that did interesting things with
keyboards, and coincidentally, a lot of these happen to be bands from the late ’70s and ’80s when synthesizers were still a really
new instrument. The ’80s were also really great for good pop
songs and big choruses, so we take from that I think too, but
we’re obviously influenced by more than just that one decade.
Regardless, we can’t deny that it’s a big part of our music.”

The Breaks is by far the duo’s most mature set of songs to
date, as it exemplifies the gamut of influences, styles and ideas
the pair put into their music, everything from a dirty synth solo to
a guitar–heavy rock riff. Recording in a home studio north of
Toronto allowed the two plenty of time to experiment and relax,
resulting in a more mature, expansive set of fun, playful songs.
“We spent a lot of time on songwriting before we actually went
into the studio,” explains Huson. “We like to take time with the
songs and let the ideas ferment, so that’s why we spread it out a
bit, as of course, the songs are the most important thing to us. We
just want to have good songs that could hold up if they were
stripped down and played only on an acoustic guitar or a piano.
We just wanted to write songs we really liked, have fun playing
with keyboards and electronics and make a good, exciting
recording that we’d be proud of. We had so many song ideas, we
just wanted to take a few of them, produce them the best we
could and get it out so we can go tour.”

Many elements changed on The Breaks as opposed to their
independent debut recordings. The lyrics developed more,
exposing another element of the duo unheard of before these
songs developed in the studio. The music is quite consonant in
theme and fairly upbeat — something that explains the
aforementioned comparisons — but the lyrics do not always
mirror the melody. The Breaks relates to its title; the cause and
effect of people breaking apart and moving on. The lyrics reflect that, showcasing a more mature pair comfortable blending
consonance with dissonance, or in other words, happy sounds
with pensive words. “We always start with chords and melody and
with a few exceptions, mostly the lyrics come last, so we didn’t
purposefully bring in any one theme,” explains Condo. “But
working through the songs, the music sort of started to grow in
one direction and colour. When it came to finishing lyrics, we did
realize we had this theme of relationships breaking down or
falling apart, which sounds like it would be really depressing, but
really most of the songs are upbeat. I guess they’re more about
living life and getting over silly relationship, things that can make
life more complicated than it really needs to be. I mean, they’re all
really just pop songs, so I guess naturally we just start writing
about girls and everyday things that are universal and timeless,
because that’s what we want our songs to be in the end

“This reflects on the title, which actually fell out of the EP
artwork. We needed a theme for the art, so that’s when we sort of
realized that these really poppy songs we wrote all had a bit of a
darker vibe if you read the lyrics — they’re all about a break ups,
broken hearts, communication break downs. So we came up with
this artwork that looks like an apartment interior full of broken
objects — a post–breakup scene with broken dishes and stuff
thrown around the room — drawn in a Pop Art Lichtenstein sort of
style. In that case, The Breaks seemed like an obvious title, just
simple and easy and makes sense with the artwork and songs.”
After the release at the beginning of February, Hello Operator
is heading out on the road ‘til the end of the year, where plans are
to return to the studio and record a full–length follow–up to The
Breaks. Touring is where the duo feels most comfortable, and plans to traverse much of the U.S. and Canada is in the works to
facilitate Condo and Huson’s goals. California and Ontario are up
first. “We’re actually going to be covering most of the U.S. and
Canada by the end of the year. We’re going to be touring non–
stop until we go into the studio again — probably in the winter or
so,” explains Huson. “California is one of our favorite areas to
tour, so that’s why we started there.”

“We love playing live more than anything and we have a lot of
fun, so I think that probably translates,” concludes Condo. “My
favorite live bands are the Ramones and the Dwarves, bands like
that. While we’re not as badass as them, we kind of do what they
do and don’t talk a lot and play a lot of songs in a short amount
of time. Also, we have a keytar.” So there you have it, a merging
of the playground with the strip club, a blending of styles
intrinsically suited for the dance floor. Hello Operator indeed. V
[ADAM GRANT] - VIEW Magazine


Hello Operator picks a more modest influence -- The Cars

WHEN IT COMES TO THE SCIENCE of music promotion (and, all-too-often, music criticism), direct comparison to other, more famous bands is still a state-of-the-art technique. Admittedly, it does make practical sense -- why try and circumscribe a band's sound with pages of abstract language when you can just say they're part Sonic Youth, part Pixies?

Sometimes the comparisons are even pretty accurate, although most of the time they're not. Most of the time, that new retro-sound band from Portland that supposedly blends all the best elements of Janis Joplin, The Cure and Public Enemy just really, really wishes it could do that. Canada's Hello Operator sticks to a more modest aspiration.

"A lot more people like The Cars than you think like The Cars," says Evan Huson, the band's 21-year-old singer/keyboardist. "We played at a goth bar in Toronto a while back in, you know, skinny ties and these hairdos -- we were totally out of place. But it was fine. They were into it, and it helped that we had that particular influence. For some reason there's all this respect for Ric Ocasek. There was even this heavy metal dude who tried out for the band a couple years ago who just loved the fuckin' Cars."

It's true. No one ever says, "The Cars? Disgusting." Of course, they don't top anyone's all-time favorite list, either. They just hang in hooky, utterly inoffensive limbo -- like Steely Dan, but even less polarizing. What's more, on this year's upcoming, six-song The Breaks EP, Hello Operator actually back up the "sounds-most-like" claim made by P.R. people, critics and themselves. You can hear it two seconds into "55 Regrets," right after Huson's opening synth swoop. Lead singer/guitarist Mike Condo punches out a progression minor and minimal, then overlays it with vocals that don't just evoke, but spiritually channel Ocasek and his signature staccato delivery (think "Oh. AH-oh ... ah-oh"). In other words, it's not like, "Okay, I can kind of hear some Cars influence in this," it's more like, "Yeah. Oh, God, yeah."

That said, it's not a tribute band or anything. You can tell that just by looking at this picture. Clearly, it's 2008, not 1979. Three more skinny ties, one less faux-hawk, some mascara and they'd be Panic at the Disco. And even though Hello Operator started out, in 2004, favoring a colder, new wave throwback sound full of Huson's synth, the Great White North band is trying to warm up with a new EP that sees new wave stirred with something else.

"We did grow up on Nirvana, Soundgarden, that stuff," says Huson, who also mentions being a one-time Ramones fanatic, bashing drums in punk bands. "It's like, 'Am I gonna go more Gary Neuman and Kraftwerk, or am I gonna take the more Trent Reznor, organic approach to keyboards?' We wanted to go more organic with this one. We've got big, live drums now, too. There's still analog keys and weird synth noises, yeah, but we still just like ... big rock."

In 2006, their rock got big enough to land them a gig opening for Hilary Duff on a 19-city Canadian tour. They've also shared stages with Simple Plan and Switchfoot and were the first band ever to be featured on MTV Canada's MTV Live (yes, there is an MTV Canada, which may or may not broadcast reality shows called Sap to Syrup and Lumberjack!). Their resolutions for the new year?

"Just tour the shit out of our EP," says Huson. "Bring our music to as many people as possible, build things up, stay on the road and keep playing."

Hello Operator's Jan. 5 hookup at the Beauty Bar promises a show at least a couple cuts above what we're used to seeing on Saturday nights in Vegas. To be sure, it'll sound a lot like The Cars. They also compare themselves to ineffably brilliant new-waver-and-beyond Elvis Costello, by the way, but let's try to forget about that.

Hello Operator
Sat., Jan. 5, 11 p.m.
Beauty Bar
517 Fremont St. - Las Vegas City Life

"The Keytar to their Success"

Mar 06, 2008

The title of "Canada's newest hitmakers" could soon be bestowed upon Hello Operator, two nice, young lads from Toronto who make danceable, synth-powered New Wave pop in the flavour of one of their shared obsessions, the Cars.

Guitarist and keyboardist Mike Condo and his "keytar"-ist sidekick, Evan Huson, sat down to chat about their recent good fortune.

Q: You guys have a real way with a tune. How does the "pop" bubble forth so reliably from your songwriting?

MC: We love that stuff and we both like a lot of the same bands. The Beatles are my favourite band and David Bowie and the Cars. We just like pop-based music.

Q: How did the tunes go down with the kiddies when you were touring with Hilary Duff?

MC: We were playing to packed houses. It was amazing. For a lot of the kids, it was their first concert so they were just excited to be there.

EH: It never really crossed my mind that we were writing music that 14-year-olds would like.

Q: How did you land (Our Lady Peace producer) Arnold Lanni in your corner?

MC: He was friends with my brother. I knew him before in my other projects, but he didn't dig those projects too much. Once I started doing these songs, we would show them to him and he'd give us feedback and advice. ... He was interested because he liked the direction of the songs.

Q: Do you ever rib him about being in Frozen Ghost?

MC: We leave him alone about it.

EH: We actually take after him. We have a keytar, and I think Arnold played keytar in the band.

Hello Operator, Faber Drive and Brian Melo play the Opera House, 735 Queen St. E., tonight at 8:40. $15 at Ticketmaster, Rotate This, Soundscapes and the Horseshoe. - Toronto Star


2011 - Debut Full Length Album

2008 - The Breaks

2006 - Hello Operator 4 song tour EP

2005 - GO! 4 Song E.P. (produced by Arnold Lanni )

2003 - Meet The Scenes 3 song E.P.



Hello Operator were called a "newsmaker" in Macleans magazine, and listed as "one of 12 bands to watch out for" by Canoe.ca. The band has appeared as guests on "Much On Demand" (basically a Canadian version of TRL), “Going Coastal” and “Much News”. Hello Operator have appeared and performed on MTV Live to a nationwide audience, were showcased on E-Talk Daily and have toured and shared stages with Simple Plan, Ill Scarlet, Justin Nozuka, Switchfoot, Loverboy and many more. Their video for Chasing Satellites, which was the first single off their 2008 E.P “The Breaks”, has been in regular rotation on Much Music and Much Loud since November 2007.
The band released their second single “55 Regrets” in October 2008. “55 Regrets” received national radio play and the video was also picked up by Much Music and was immediately put on heavy rotation.
Hello Operator then released their third single “Take Me Away” near the end of March 2009, which spent 6 weeks in the Much On Demand top 10 and went on to hit #1 on the countdown.

Hello Operator is currently in the studio writing and recording their debut full length album with multi platinum selling producer Arnold Lanni (Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven, Simple Plan)

“…the rare band that can win over underground electro fashionistas and mainstream radio devotees…(with) radio-ready missives that you could shake both a derriere and a fist to.” – LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL

“(Hello Operator) bridges the yawning new wave divide between The Cars and The Killers” – SAN DIEGO CITY BEAT

“This Canadian duo specializes in the type of eye-popping keyboard-pop that made new-wave so much fun.” – RIVERFRONT TIMES (St. Louis)

“light–hearted, energetic and most importantly, intensely danceable.” – VIEW MAGAZINE