Jai Guru
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Jai Guru

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Band Pop Reggae

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"On Their Way Up"

By Nicholas Seliwoniuk, The McGill Daily
Blending a diverse range of musical influences, personal backgrounds, and a common love for music and the Beatles, the members of Jai Guru now have their self-titled debut album under their belts and are ready to see where it takes them. In anticipation of their first show since the release of their album, The Daily got a chance to meet up with two of the band’s members, Marc Thétrault and Fadi Dagher, to discuss the band’s past, present and future on the road to success.

These down-to-earth guys emerged from a McGill experience that many of us have shared. Thétrault recalls, “Roughly four years ago, we were all at McGill at the same time in first year and we all met each other in the dorms. There was another guy who put the band together, but he left and we all stayed together.” In addition, their rhythm section is constantly changing; over the years they’ve had about 12 drummers. “But,” Thétrault recalls, “three of us have signed a contract and we’ve used the same bassist and drummer, and they’ve kind of integrated into the band. It’s still us three that are the songwriters, though.”

It is possible to hear an eclectic mix of styles effectively arranged into Jai Guru’s sound, but regarding inspiration, Thétrault suggests, “The main thing that’s influenced our music is each other. We all have different backgrounds and we try to take those backgrounds and put them together. The mixture of sounds just kind of happened ‘cause we all have different influences.” That said, their influences include: for Pablo, jazz-fusion and progressive rock, for Thétrault, jazz and reggae, and for Dagher, folk. But both Thétrault and Dagher were emphatic in pointing out the tie that binds: “We all love the Beatles.”

With such a communal foundation in Jai Guru, it is no surprise to find that their creative process is very much a collaboration of the three minds. “For some songs, someone just has an idea and we get together and put them together, or sometimes someone will bring in a complete song. But each time, we all add our own ideas.” For Thétrault, “Music does have the ability to change people’s thoughts on things. But in general, I think it’s more important to have a good sound above all.”

“Marc’s songs tend to have some political undertones,” adds Dagher, “but sometimes they’re just kind of funny or stupid, like ‘Feed My Lust’ [they laugh].”

If you’ve ever wondered how it is that bands find the help of a record label, Jai Guru’s story of discovery could prove to be insightful. It’s also just funny. “It all happened two years ago in September,” recalls Thétrault. “Every year my family has a reunion in Belle Mile, just north of Montreal. And every year we have a jam on the beach at the end of it all. And this guy just paddled up in his canoe with his guitar and six pack of beer and he just got me to play some songs and he told me to get in touch with him!”

Getting signed by Hello Musique hasn’t really changed things that much for the band since, as always, it’s about the music not the fame. “We were always pretty serious about our music,” says Thétrault. “It’s a bit more serious that we kind of have to fit our schedules together now and it’s had to take kind of a priority. There’s now a business side to it, but the music side is still very fun.”

The members of Jai Guru are no strangers to seeing a full audience at Le Swimming or Cafe Campus in the past. Thétrault boasts, “We’ve been able to pack our shows but we also knew a lot of people. You know friends, and friends of friends. But last time we played these two girls from New York who were just visiting for the weekend were like ‘you guys are so good and we came from New York and whatever.’ That was really exciting cause I thought it was all our friends there. And even though it’s a lot of our friends they still really like it.”

This sort of a following is likely to only get bigger, but Dagher and Thétrault remain modest and realistic in their expectations for their debut. “No one really knows who we are, so I can’t really imagine the album selling 100,000 copies, but we’d like to.” Fadi adds, “I just can’t wait to start recording the second album. I think its just going to get better and better.”

As for the immediate future, Thétrault concludes, “We’re just going to see how this first show goes and then take it from there. I hope that lots of people come to our show and like it.”

- Mcgill Daily


Discography

Jai Guru--Jai Guru (2004)
Details: "All is Not Lost" went to number 1 in several radio stations throughout Quebec

Photos

Bio

Jai Guru is a Montreal-based band combining reggae rhythms with folk and urban grooves that provide the backdrop for rich vocal harmonies. Their lyrics deal with pressing issues in current affairs challenging the listener to take action against social injustice. With a first album already under their wing and a second one in production, Jai Guru is very present on the Montreal scene and has played in numerous venues, notably la Sala Rossa, Club Soda, le Swimming, la Casa del Popolo, Café Campus, as well as at the International Reggae Festival of Montreal. Composed of 6 talented musicians hailing from various successful bands (Dobacaracol, Kodiak, Michel Pagliaro, Thomas Jensen, Papagroove, Andrea Lindsay, Caniche Hara-Kiri), Jai Guru expresses the richness of their messages through their spell-binding melodies, creating an ambiance that is groovy and intimate, and that everyone can relate to.