the BROWN HORNETS
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the BROWN HORNETS

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"A+ Review from Chart Magazine"

The Brown Hornets @ Healey's
Friday March 04, 2005 @ 02:30 PM
By: ChartAttack.com Staff

Band: The Brown Hornets
Hometown: Newcastle, Ontario
Venue: Healey's
Date: March 3, 2005
Reporter: Shannon Whibbs

Shimmying, shaking, pure rock 'n' roll entertainment with a 60s flair.


Grade: 90

Comment: The Brown Hornets are pure energy and showmanship. Lead singer Dan Walters serves as the focal point for this frantic outfit with his acrobatics and wailing vocals. This is the band that you want to play at your party. Any party. Any time. Any place.

Snappy dressers with snappy banter to match, The Hornets took the stage with confidence despite a minuscule 1am-on-a-Thursday-night crowd. Walters started off the show by marching around the venue, banging on a tambourine and effectively corralling the crowd into the palm of his hand. The rest of the band (guitar, bass and drums) didn't rely on Walters to keep up the energy, instead providing a solid, energetic backing of their own that was underscored by guitarist Mike Tomlinson's showy-yet-proficient playing. Walters distributed condoms to the crowd in case anyone was overcome by the need for lovin' after the show.


Walters did the splits, banged out chords on a Korg CX-3 keyboard and shimmied around like a madman. There's a strong 60s party-band appeal here. Think You Make Me Wanna Shout and Let's Dance (an excellent cover version was performed). They aren't trying to be deep. They aren't trying to change to world. They just want everyone to have a good time. Beneath this carefree veneer, the musicianship was rock-solid.


You have to admire a band that can sincerely turn it up to 11 even when the crowd is small. The Brown Hornets may be influenced by a musical trend of the past, but they bring it into the present and hopefully will into the future. This is a band that you need to see perform live.

- Chart


"Being There"

'With their mix of punk, blues and classic rock 'n' roll, The Brown Hornets were a hoot...The Brown Hornets have great onstage personalities, incredible musicianship, self-deprecating humour and great songs, all equalling an incredible show...The Brown Hornets were unstoppable. Not afraid to interact with the audience, the band handed out condoms to the audience to promote safe-sex, Walters walked throughout the audience playing tambourine and Tomlinson tossed his guitar down on a table leading to a broken glass'. - Being There Magazine


"Being There/North Shore/Exclaim/Spill"

BEING THERE MAGAZINE (Toronto):
July 2005

Act: The Brown Hornets
Venue: The Silver Dollar
Date & Time: Saturday, June 11, 2005 @ 9 PM
*Miller and Cari’s Best of Festival Pick*
*Best Act Involving Fruit Award*

Lead singers don’t seem to care any more. Even when the raw energy is there in the music, it’s rare that the lead singer has the charisma that traditionally has gone along with their role in rock ‘n’ roll. It was charisma that made The Brown Hornets the most memorable performance of the festival, and one of the few that left me wanting more. Lead singer Danny Walters danced and interacted with the audience as if he had been gracing a stage his entire life. Give these guys enough exposure, and the Brown Hornets could be the saviours of rock ‘n’ roll. They wear their influences on their sleeve (the band opened with a medley of “Bo Diddley” and Otis Redding’s “Shake”), but perform solid original material as well. Did I mention that Danny Walters has more charisma than any frontman I’ve seen in a long time?
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NORTH SHORE NEWS (Vancouver):
July 2005

The Brown Hornets: their frontman is amusing as hell and could put Rufus Wainwright and Keane's Tom Chaplin to shame…Lead singer/organ whiz Danny Walters is probably the only rock and roll frontman who gives away bananas, pineapples and condoms to audiences. Don't dismiss that as a gimmick, however. Newcastle, ON's Brown Hornets are the real deal. With equal bits of classic rock and blues, the Brown Hornets, who have four CDs to their credit, oozed charm and talent. Frantic guitar licks, passionate blues rhythms and Walters' kinetic performance made for a thoroughly memorable show. As if the music weren't enough, there was plenty of self-deprecating humour to keep the crowd on its toes".
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EXCLAIM MAGAZINE (Toronto):
July 2005

Even though you could fry an egg on the venue's chipped Formica counter, Newcastle, ON's BROWN HORNETS couldn't have cared less. Drawing upon seemingly limitless amounts of energy, if you weren't moving during this show, you should have been pronounced either legally dead or supremely uncool. Featuring guitars and microphones askew on the floor and random handouts of pineapples and bananas, the music - a great old helping of dirty soul-inflected rock'n'roll - was just as fun as the proceedings. It's close to a guarantee that the temperature in the place actually went up a couple of degrees due to this performance. Scorching.
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SPILL MAGAZINE (Toronto):
July 2005

The Silver Dollar may have been as sweltering as a blast furnace but at least Toronto’s Brown Hornets were on hand to keep things cool, at least in that hokey 1950’s-style, American Graffiti-type fashion. Taking cues from Jerry Lee Lewis, Teenage Head and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the energetic four-piece burned through a grease-stained set featuring equal parts keyboard-infused rockin’ and manic street preachin’. Front man Dan Walters not only took this piss out of his instruments but also the many props he’d brought along for the ride. Whether it be tossing a pineapple into the crowd or talking shit to a half-eaten banana, Walters proved the consummate performer by disrespecting his produce while still finding time to weave his way through snappy tunes like “Rambler Scrambler”. And for whatever reason, the decent-sized Silver Dollar stage proved too tight for both Walters and guitarist Mike Tomlinson, as these fellas kept tumbling into the crowd in search of life, liberty and perhaps a new hen to peck. In short, solid showmanship and an irony-free slice of classic rock and roll goulash.
- 'Being There'/'North Shore'/'Exclaim'/'Spill


"CTV on CMW and the Hornets"

The Brown Hornets, from Newcastle, Ont., whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their wild blend of blues and rock that sounded like the Who being fronted by Jerry Lee Lewis with a crazed Keith Richards on lead guitar. - CTV NEWS


"Pop Montreal Tag"

Gimmick-free old school rock with a whole lotta swagger - Pop Montreal


"Montreal's Rock & Roll Report"

Shit kicking, rockabilly flavoured smash bang rock and roll is what I got out of Toronto’s The Brown Hornets. Coming Down Easy sounds like the Doors on a sequel to Roadhouse Blues and Rooftop Sniper locks into a tasty riff with great organ swells that will satisfy any rock and roll craving…Currently on tour all over Canada and select U.S. cities, this is mean and nasty rock and roll like it should be played - Mark Boudreau, Rock & Roll Report


"CFNY, NOW, VIEW, and more Gospel"

'Fuck Yeah..you guys freakin rock...great songwriting, excellent musicianship, great image, great vocals, and amazing presentation'.

Barry Taylor, CFNY 102.1 the EDGE, 2005


'Shit-Tearing Blues'!--Critics Pick for North by Northeast

Elizabeth Bromstein, NOW Magagazine, 2004


'They've released four CDs, toured the U.S. and maintain a near manic love for what they do that oozes out at every show...Frenetic is an understatement in describing The Brown Hornets live performance'.

Ric Taylor, VIEW Magazine, 2004


'Their music brings forth important elements in the history of rock'n'roll...50's gospel, the 60's roots movement and the 70's rock decadence'.

Steve K., www.smashinglumber.com


'The Brown Hornets are reinventing the original blues-rock fusion mania of the rolling stones...They never fail to amaze me with their high-energy brand of insanity'!

D.D. Rocker, HAMMER-JAM, 2004


'There's innovation aplenty to be found on the Brown Hornets' self-titled debut, along with a ferocious energy that blows the cobwebs off time-honoured tradition...If you like your blues hard and fast with a touch of punk, you'd be well-advised to seek this one out at all costs...The Brown Hornets made their reputation in the bars of Southwestern Ontario, a reputation built largely on astonishing, almost frightening energy'.

John Taylor, BLUES on STAGE, 2002


'By far, the Brown Hornets were the best act of the 2001 Lilac Festival. They're called the "ultimate boogie", and that's really what it is...John Lee Hooker inspired boogie sounds with slide guitar and organ, played powerfully'!

Jeff Van Epps, LIVE MUSIC IN ROCHESTER, 2001


'The Brown Hornets rock. I mean they really rock. They're a bundle of sheer intensity, with enough hand slappin', head boppin', booty wigglin' gumption to grab the undivided attention of everyone in attendance. With their own brand of country-tinged rock and roll, and the most blues sensibility this side of the Mississippi Delta, The Brown Hornets, if you'll pardon the colloquialism, tore shit up'.

Colin Hunter, McMASTER UNIVERSITY SILHOUETTE, 1999


Describing the Brown Hornets' music is no simple task. Some would say it's straight-up blues, while others would push for unreserved rock n' roll...Whichever way you want to label it, there's no denying that these guys know what they're doing. Their songs are tight and their energy hits you like a wave'.

Mandy Reid, McMASTER UNIVERSITY SILHOUTTE, 1999
- Barry Taylor, NOW Magazine, VIEW Magazine, Smashing Lumber, Hammer-Jam, Blues on Stage, Live Music i


"University of Toronto"

The Brown Hornets... and their taste for fruit
Written by ALI KASIM
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Bananas, Marshmallows, and peanut butter. These are just some of the things you can expect to get thrown in your face at a Brown Hornets show. No club or festival that the quintet from Newcastle, Ontario have played at has been spared, and I wouldn't expect The Sliver Dollar Room on November 24 to be any exception. Did I mention The Brown Hornets were a rock band? Blues-rock, played hard and fast with a touch of punk, would be an apt way of describing the Hornets' sound. Vocalist Dan Walters categorizes his band better, though. "We're a cross between Mama Cass and Nell Carter," Walters laughs. "Okay, realistically, I'd say Elmore James and Little Richard. We were being compared to early Rolling Stones, and rock n' roll bands with a soulful side like Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. But I'd say Elmore James with the hard blues, and Little Richard with the gospel soul. But that's a weird question though because no matter who we pick, it's gonna make us sound better than we actually are." The charismatic Walters, ever with a punch line in hand, makes no secret of the band's influences, which, strangely enough, consists of gospel as well. "I don't think that comes across to a lot of people, but I got friggin' Reverend James Cleveland and Clarence Fountain going in my head. It's weird but I mean, that's my secret," says Walters, who is famous for his alter ego on and off stage. "The Jekyll and Hyde thing is like a continuum, you know. I spring out of bed at two in the afternoon, I mean, in the morning, and I wind myself up knowing that later that day I'm gonna be called to task. It's an opportunity. I don't mean to get all serious and shit, but when you're on stage, people there see you, so you better make their time worthwhile and just go ape. This limitless energy is what drummer Robin Mason describes as the cornerstone of the band's live act. "It's nice to have that type of energy because I find with a lot of bands that you go and see, the energy is lost. Rock n' roll has lost all that zaniness and jumping around, and so it's nice to bring that back." But to pelt people with fruit? How did that happen? "Well it started out with me being hungry," answers Dan, in between laughs. "I know that's a some time ago at a show, and I thought nobody would notice if I brought a banana on stage. It turned out to be pretty conspicuous and at the next show, people kept asking 'where's the fucking banana?!' and so I said alright, and started bringing a bunch and incorporated it into the show. But that's it, there's no brainy answer to that. I mean, it offsets the whole rock n' roll and drugs stigma - we nourish our fans with eggplant and fruit. Of course, the food-throwing antic doesn't sit well with everyone. "We played at the Molson Amphitheatre opening for BB King last year, and I hit the security guard, who looked like King Kong Bundy, right in the back of the head with a 95 mph banana. And he wasn't happy," recalls Dan. "Sometimes I get overzealous. Like with a banana in my mouth or while I'm trying a new fruit, I'll hit all the wrong notes on the organ or accidentally step on the guitar cord and unplug it. It's 'sloppy joe' but it doesn't really matter, because we're not doing a Bach concerto or anything. It's just a matter of going silly on stage - a planned chaos." According to Robin, the folks in Buffalo didn't fancy their act too much either. "The crowd just kept backing away. They started out in the front and the more we kept up with the antics, they got scared and backed all the way to the door." So aside from the on-stage food fights, what really sets The Brown Hornets apart from the rest of Toronto's huge independent rock market? Dan thinks humility among other things. "I don't think we come in on a high horse. We've been at this for a long time and we've been humbled so many years. We come in there confident sure, but not with the aura as if we know a thing already and know what to expect. We just go through the motions. It's very clear on stage that it's an exploratory process for all of us. The four of us are just diggin' off each other. We're best friends outside of the band and we're best friends inside the band too. And so I think that's also what sets us apart, that genuine camaraderie." Dan however, already "expects" the show on November 24 to be the best ever. "I can already tell. Our next gig is always the best gig, and second place is probably the last one we had. It just gets better and better. We never hang our head because you can't ever do that. Kind of like a hockey team or a football team where after a game, you go back and reflect. Reflection is important - where we hit with the audience, where we missed, and you build on it. So our next show is our best one." So what can the audience expect from the Hornets' "best gig ever"? "Well, there's really nothing to expect - we've been playing the same song for years," quips Dan. "We're audience-centric I guess. So you can probably expect to get a banana on the side of the head." "Absolutely," adds Robin. "Watch the stage, because if you turn your head, lights out!" The Brown Hornets perform with C'Mon and The Surplus Sons at the Toronto's Silver Dollar Room on November 24. Be there… and bring some fruit!
- U of T


"Guelph, Albion Hotel"

So we headed out of the Shadow a bit after midnight Friday night/Saturday morning figuring that the night was about over. We decided to stop by the Albion for a quick drink and then home. However, we got a bit of a surprise once we got up to the second floor. We knew there was a band but what a band! We walked in on the middle of the Brown Hornets’ set. All four of them were absolutely stacked with energy. The lead singer was hitting the keys of his organ not just with hands and fingers but with his foot at one point, he was dropping down and sliding his way back up like James Brown back in the day. He left at the beginning of a song saying that he was sick of hearing his own voice and walked around the second floor for about a minute.

On several occasions he handed out the tambourine and cow bell to people watching. The guitarist put his guitar down on a table and played a guitar solo out in the middle of the bar. All in all, another great band that I wasn’t expecting to see. Check out their website here, they just might knock your socks off.
- the Cannon.Ca


"Virus Zine one on one with Danny W"

The Brown Hornets are a 4 piece based in Toronto, and have been working together, playing shows and generally tearing it up for a decade. Danny Walters is vox/organ, Mike Tomlinson is guitar, Robin Mason is behind the kit and Justin Heming on bass. I haven't been out to a show yet, but the more I read about their set the more I want to be there, there's fruit involved people. Dan did an email interview with me in June/06 about their new disc, labels, and being hands on, and more.

How is recording going for the new disc? Where are you recording it?

Dan: We have the beds down for the 10 songs going on our new album. This weekend I will be completing the album with some Tarzan calls and gospel organ swells. The project is being recorded, mixed, and produced by the most righteous Sean Baillie of Electric Machine Studios in Toronto.



The Details on The Brown Hornets


based in Toronto, Ontario

www.thebrownhornets.com

www.myspace.com/thebrownhornets





Promo plans once it's finished?

Dan: The album will practically promote itself. Just joking. We are currently aiming for distribution in Japan, Germany, U.S., and Canada. We have a video ready to be aired on MuchMusic, and its release will coincide with the release of our record. My spidey-senses tell me that the majority of our sales will happen off stage. We have a manager who looks like Captain Caveman—he’s so loveable, and people who don’t even like our band feel compelled to by a CD from him.

Are you looking for label support? What are you looking for in a label?

Dan: I’m not particularly interested in labels. I understand their significance in the landscape of independent music; I’m just not excited about them. If we were to sign the proverbial ‘deal’, I would like to see a considerable amount of strategic planning—as opposed to some willy-nilly talk of grandeur and world domination. Full blown development deals seem to be a thing of the past. Like the XFL or Slamball. Actually, they’re nothing like XFL or Slamball. I just wanted to write about them. I get the giggles when we’re approached by labels—and they fail to see the humour of doing business. I suppose that’s why we have a manager.

How important is it to you to be hands on about all the non musical aspects of The Brown Hornets? (fliers, cd artwork, web design)

Dan: A grassroots ethos is a necessity for us. We have always been dirt-poor and ugly—Mike and I were always selectively impervious to the ebb & flow of musical trends. The Brown Hornets survived Grunge, Euro-Dance, Mope Rock, College Rock, Neo-Swing, Latino Music, and now Disco Rock. By dancing within the peripheries of popular music we could always navigate our project in comfortable directions. We’re not quite insiders, but not so reclusive that we play dungeons & dragons and memorize Monty Python skits. Possibly a trifle subversive...

By doing our own fliers, artwork, and web design we create, sustain, and signify a culture of hard work & integrity. This sounds more boring than it is. But to us, it’s important to know how to do things on our own. Inadvertently, we’ve developed a set of venomous fangs over the years. We’ve come to rely on nobody for anything, whilst genuinely appreciating others’ support and interest. We fall over ourselves to let our supporters know how much we love them. And we do.

Where are you going with this? Are you really going to save rock?

Dan: I don’t want to save rock. I want to start with a clean canvas. I want to reassemble existing elements from the stratosphere of gospel, soul, and rock&roll. We are, for instance, revisiting the Pointer Sisters’ Neutron Dance on our album (its only cover). It caves my skull in every time I hear it. I miss the unglamorous, silly, unpredictable raw excitement in rock&roll—I love the unbridled mania of artists like Little Richard, the Sex Pistols, and Otis Redding. When we perform, I can’t even see straight—I am overcome with hyperactive feelings of love & destruction. There’s no better idea than having that spill over to others, and in turn, having their daffyness spill onto us.



Dan on being hands on


'By doing our own fliers, artwork, and web design we create, sustain, and signify a culture of hard work & integrity. This sounds more boring than it is.'




Do you feel that you have any specific challenges or advantages being from/based in Toronto?

Dan: No challenges. I like Toronto. I still feel overwhelmed by its busy pace and alchemy of perfumes. I’m from a rural community just east of Oshawa—and people don’t wear nearly as much perfume or cologne there. Or gold chains or sparkly cell phone accessories. People back home kind of have a uniform. Like a cartoon character. The most common look in 2006 has been parachute acid wash pants with a ‘University of Budweiser’ sweatshirt tucked in. White Velcro Hightops on the feet, and a fuzzy Alan Thicke hair cut up top.

Favorite local venues to play?

Dan: I quite enjoy the Horseshoe, Rivoli, and Silver Dollar Room. I can’t really think of a place I don’t like. I’m looking forward to playing the Bovine this summer. I find that the ‘quality of show’ has less to do with the physical place, and more to do with the crowd.

I love the Toronto crowds—they understand all that Pointer Sister Gospel crap I was just talking about. I also love a good booker—Dan Burke is a hero to me.

Who are some of your favorite local bands to play shows with?

Dan: My favourite band in Toronto is Sweet Thing. They are incredibly smart, polite, and talented. If was a label dude, I would drop all my other acts just to make room for Sweet Thing. I also have a soft spot for the Red Light Rippers and Crash Kelly. C’Mon is an undeniable force of nature—I have big respect for Ian Blurton (his drummer Randy is very Keith Moon). My favourite band by way of Toronto/Texas is, by far, Oliver Black. It’s an absolute honour being their friend. Other than boogie dancing, eating bananas, and walking on my organ, my favourite part of music is its powerful sense of community.


Check out The Brown Hornets June 30 @ The Boathouse in Kitchener/Waterloo and August 19 @ The Bovine in Toronto.



The Playlist


Dan's Playlist

1. Mahalia Jackson — You'll Never Walk Alone
2. Chuck Berry — My Ding-A-Ling
3. Sly & the Family Stone — Stand!
4. Otis Redding — Try a Little Tenderness
5. Little Richard — Short Fat Fanny


- Virus Zine


Discography

THE BROWN HORNETS (June 2007)

Self titled Album out now. Available at HMV, digitally on itunes and puretracks or order online. Also get it for cheaper at our live shows. It will cave your skull in.

Photos

Bio

After 600 shows in Ontario, Quebec, & the United States, the Brown Hornets have cultivated a live show of heavy-duty proportions. Based in Toronto, Ontario, the Brown Hornets murdalize people with a hyperactive cocktail of heavenly gospel, soul and rock & roll…or, more succinctly put, ‘Shit Tearing Blues’ (NOW Magazine, Toronto).

The Brown Hornets have crawled, slugged, and humped their way to becoming a ‘must-see’ band at several notable festivals: Pop Montreal, Musicians & Emerging Artists New York, Lilac Festival Rochester, North by Northeast, and *Canadian Music Week (*received A+ review from Chart Magazine). In fact, they were the last Canadian band to perform at New York’s CBGBs several weeks before its unfortunate closure. They’ve also had the good fortune of sharing the stage with BB King, RL Burnside, John Sebastian, King Khan, Supagroup, Two Gallants, C’Mon, Die Mannequin, Elvez, Mongrels (ex Tricky Woo), and Grimskunk. Not at the same time, of course.

The Brown Hornets’ lineage is thinly veiled: Little Richard, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, Sly & the Family Stone, the Who, the Velvet Underground, the Ramones—and, perhaps most fittingly, the Pointer Sisters. Though enamored by bands of yesteryear, the Hornets make no attempt to recapture the past. They recontextualize these sounds by dressing them up with hyper-aggressive tension and self deprecating humour. (yes, it’s a ‘growing up in the country’ thing). The Brown Hornets is, are, am, and be: Danny Walters on Vocals & Organ, Paul Kehayas (ex John Ford) on Guitar, Justin Heming on Bass, and Robin Mason on Drums.

Being There Magazine (Toronto) writes, 'It was charisma that made The Brown Hornets the most memorable performance of the festival (North by Northeast), and one of the few that left me wanting more. Lead singer Danny Walters danced and interacted with the audience as if he had been gracing a stage his entire life. Give these guys enough exposure, and the Brown Hornets could be the saviours of rock ‘n’ roll’.

The Hornets released a self-titled record in May of 2007. It was recorded and produced by Sean Baillie (Pocket Dwellers, ‘Women & Song’ Comp.) and mixed by Darius Szczepaniak (Black Crowes, Sum 41). Thankfully, it has been charting and receiving regular air play in New York, Dover, Boston, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Windsor, and London. The Hornets are currently writing chart-topping material for a new album.

I have exhausted my ability to write about my band in 3rd person.