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"Love of British pop drives band's sound"

Mike Beggs
Feb 15, 2006

Thanks to ranking bands like The Killers, The Strokes and Arcade Fire, it's fashionable now to hint at early 1980's British pop in your sound.
And, that's perfect for the band Salt. Their forthcoming self-titled debut CD reflects their love for that era of pop music, right from the opening keyboard riff on With A Grace.

The group includes Mississaugans Terry Lankstead on bass, Brian Christopher on drums and Willy Choi on the keyboards along with Toronto singer and guitarist Fletcher Mason.

Lankstead, Mason and Christopher played previously with the hard pop band Woodshed, who had a good run on the Toronto indie scene before breaking up seven years ago. But, while Woodshed's sound was more influenced by American alternative, Mason says they've always preferred English pop, with its overriding sense of melody and melancholy.

While it's definitely cutting edge, Salt's brand of informed pop is shades of vintage Brit bands like The Clash, Squeeze, The Cure and Joy Division.

"This stuff fits more with how we feel about music, than 'Do we sound like the Tragically Hip?,' " Mason said. "With Woodshed, it was a limited sound. We've opened it right up with Salt."

"It's definitely extremely catchy melodies," Lankstead said. "We often find we have a catchy guitar riff and keyboard riff at the same time, and the challenge is to interweave them without one stepping all over the other."

According to Lankstead, at the time of Woodshed's break-up, it was agreed that another instrument was needed in the band. That led to the eventual addition of his childhood friend Choi on keyboards, and he has become a big part of the Salt sound.

"I think, growing up, at least, in our most important years, that's all we listened to (was English pop from the 1980s)," Choi said. "It's almost like we've got permission to play the kind of music we want to play, now. The times have almost come around."

They're not plotting to unseat U2, but with their CD coming out soon,

Salt has applied for Toronto's massive North By NorthEast Music Festival in June.

And, of course, after a seven-year layoff, Lankstead said, "It's great to play again once a week. It's an outlet."

"We're breaking out a new bunch of songs, and it's changing our sound," Mason said.

Their CD will be available on itunes in the next month or so.



Salt (self-titled)



The three original members of Woodshed, a popular Toronto act from the mid-nineties, resurrected to form a new band SALT in the Fall of 2003. This time, the trio decided to augment their guitar-based sound with keyboards and organs. Their signature sound is motivated by a common appreciation for the punk scene of the late Seventies and the aesthetics of early Eighties pop.

A conscious effort has been made to write and craft memorable songs — tunes that stand well on their own. Much of the past year and a half has seen the band honing their craft and recording the songs, which has taken much of the emphasis away from playing live gigs and frequenting the club circuit. The fruits of their labour are contained in their eponymously titled debut album.

Independently produced and engineered, the songs set a varied landscape over which the listener is taken. Elements are reminiscent of bands like The Clash, Squeeze, The Stranglers, The Police, the Jam, and more recently bands like The Strokes and The Killers. Influences are left for the listener to both bury and expose, never missing a beat. Each song is distinct and authentic, a pop-composition that is easy to listen to while sparing the ears from growing disinterest or boredom.

So, the time has come for SALT to take their show on the road — to expose audiences to their unique sound. Early performances at The Rivoli, Revival, and Sneaky Dee’s all indicate that their sound will be received enthusiastically. Hope to catch you at one of their gigs.