The Human Statues
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The Human Statues

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
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Theatre background gave duo an appreciation for concert visuals

Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist

Published: Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Human Statues prefer not to live up to their name.

Unlike thousands of too-cool-to-boogie bands around the globe, this Toronto pop duo likes to move on stage: dancing, cavorting and generally having fun. Sometimes they even bring out the Statuettes -- their female backup singers.
"It's just an awareness of presentation," said Human Statue Jeff Bryant. "There's nothing wrong, when you're singing a song, in doing something like closing your eyes or expressing emotion."

The Human Statues are ex-Victorians Jeff Bryant and Zach Stevenson (the duo expands to a full band back in Toronto). Their interest in being visually entertaining in performance stems from theatre backgrounds. Stevenson is a University of Victoria theatre grad who starred in the Belfry Theatre's Urinetown and The Ballad of Jim Pane. And Bryant has acted for the Victoria Operatic Society, the Victoria Shakespeare Society and Langham Court Theatre.

While still endeavouring to establish themselves in the Canadian West, the Statues have made inroads in their adopted hometown. They've played many of Toronto's best-known clubs, including the Horseshoe Tavern, El Mocambo and the Drake Hotel.

Bryant, 28, says he and Stevenson first met in 2002. Both were acting in a UVic production of Peer Gynt. Bryant was a history major, but his interest in performance led him to audition. Feeling shy around cliquey theatre students he didn't know, Bryant took to singing and playing his guitar during breaks.
Stevenson, he recalls, was able to immediately harmonize with him vocally without rehearsal.
"It's really rewarding when you sing with somebody like that. There's no discussion of what happens," Bryant said. "It blended so nicely, we thought, 'We're onto something, maybe.' "

Despite the chemistry, their musical partnership was put on hold until recently. After university, both went their separate ways. Stevenson found stage roles in The Buddy Holly Story and Hair, while Bryant undertook post-graduate training in arts management and made short films.
The Human Statues only truly coalesced last summer, when Stevenson moved to Toronto. The folk-funk-pop duo takes its cue from such acts as comedy duo Flight of the Concords and harmony kings Simon and Garfunkel. Although they sing the odd straight humour tune (Street Meet's goofy lyrics are basically words that rhyme with the song's title), other original compositions are straight-ahead boy-meets-girl pop.
Bryant says he first caught the performance bug while attending Oak Bay High School. He acted in a production of Hello Dolly!
In 2002 he enrolled in the show-biz school of hard knocks. He became a busker. Bryant and a buddy played pop tunes on the Inner Harbour's causeway. They learned to get crowds of 100 people clapping and singing along, and learned to deal with cantankerous drug addicts.
Bryant found he loved it. "I've seen it all man," he said with a grin. "But back then I thought, 'Hang on a second. Maybe you can do what you love by just doing it.' "
And that's what he has done ever since.

"The bottom line for me is get out there and do something you love. Not with any preconception of 'What is this going to do for me?' If you want to do it, just get out there."

achamberlain@tc.canwest.com - Times-Colonist (Victoria, BC)


The Human Statues Upcoming Album to be Released on Cyberspace

By Patrick Blennerhassett - Victoria News - May 14, 2008

Statues Sing the Online Song

The Internet has revolutionized the music industry. Record labels are falling and up-and-coming bands are leaning more heavily on the web to get their name out.

Folk-funk duo The Human Statues, a Victoria-rooted band now based in Toronto, are no stranger to the Internet game.

Jeff Bryant and Zachary Stevenson, the brains behind the duo, have a MySpace page and a Facebook group. Plus their songs are available on iTunes and you can check out some of their live performances on YouTube.

Bryant and Stevenson, who return home for a show at Langham Court Theatre on May 17, acknowledged that the Internet is more of a tool than an actual money-maker.

“Whenever we can do anything in a more personal way, we’ll always choose that. But the Internet really enables you to branch out in different ways,” said Stevenson.

“The bottom line with technology,” added Bryant, “whether it’s marketing yourself with the Internet or recording music or video, it affords you the opportunity to connect.

“But if you create a website it can take the onus away from going out there and connecting with people face-to-face. Or having real gigs or busking on the street.”

Bryant and Stevenson, who add fellow musicians Kraig Waye and Ben Birchard to their live shows, actually got their start busking on the streets of Toronto. Bryant, a Victoria native, has performed through such venues as the Victoria Operatic Society, the Victoria Theatre Guild and the Victoria Shakespeare Society and has also appeared in Victoria’s Fringe Festival.

Stevenson has worked previous gigs as a folksinger, actor, songwriter and disco-dancing street performer. The two played their first show together as The Human Statues in July 2007 and are set to launch their debut CD, as yet untitled, in Toronto in June.

With the new album, the duo have fused folk and funk into a pop-like hybrid, while cultivating a stage show where the emphasis is as much on performing as playing.

“It’s finally given me an opportunity to bring all my influences and bring them onto this disc,” Stevenson said. “I’ve played a lot of folk music in the past. I’ve played a lot of 50s rock ‘n’ roll. Really big into the Beatles and also Motown, disco – quite a diverse set of influences – now we’re creating this sound with this wide variety of influences.”

The band’s sound is tough to pinpoint, combining elements of funk, folk, rock, pop, even jazz at times.

The goal was to stay ‘organic’ with the writing process and let the sound define itself.

“Jeff and I (asked ourselves) ‘Should we have a sound? What should The Human Statues sound like?’ And we just trust the sound is natural and it will be its own thing if we’re not trying for it to be anything.”

Langham Court Theatre is at 805 Langham Ct. in the Rockland neighbourhood. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available at the door.

patrickb@vicnews.com - Victoria News Group (Victoria, BC)


Link to Article:
http://www.echoweekly.com/viewstory.php?storyid=7483

By Shain Shapiro
October 30th, 2008

One adjective that has seemingly disappeared from our popular
music canon of late is joy. Music as of late seems written in minor
keys, producing darker, more ominous melodic tones. While this
is a generalization of sorts, the trend to push pop music towards
gloomier territories is tough to avoid, if you take notice. For one,
synthesizers dominate pop music, and synths sound better at
night than during the day. Furthermore, there has yet to be a
replacement for Moxy Früvous or early Barenaked Ladies, easily
Canada’s best-known purveyors of chirpier tones. While the trend
appears to become the norm, a few bands are trying to bring
back the lighter, airier side of pop music. One of the best is
Toronto via Vancouver Island duo The Human Statues. Prove it?
Well, they do sound like Moxy Früvous. But there’s more to love
than one simple comparison: “The theme word for our band is
jubilation,” asserts guitarist/vocalist Zach Stevenson, who shares
the stage with fellow guitarist Jeff Bryant. “It is our motto to
spread jubilation across the nation, essentially. Our music
generally reflects a positive attitude and is fun, but not in a
bubblegum way. You will not hear songs that sound like ‘Skater
Boi’ with us, though we do like hooky pop. We write songs that
initially hook you with a sense of fun but upon further scrutiny
you’ll find deeper ground, honesty and personality.”

The culmination of this is the duo’s debut, a self–titled
independent release that sticks to the duo’s chief mantra – keep it
fun, jubilant and individual. “This is an entirely self–produced
independent record, which does show that expense was a factor,”
explains Stevenson. “But moreover, Jeff and I prioritize community
over a lot of things. We recorded the album a stone’s throw away
from home, in Kensington Market at a friend’s home studio.
Kensington is our ‘hood and we could literally hit the studio door with a rock,
not that we actually tried of course.” The result is a
record that proclaims independence from the onset, as both
musicians’ skills and weaknesses come full circle throughout the
songs, creating an open, revealing listen. The songs often poke
fun at each other, but only in such a way that they never take
themselves seriously, as an innate confidence shines through
each note. In addition, the album was recorded live more often
that not, showcasing an aesthetic that favours the band’s comfort
in the live setting; auxiliary instrumentation aside from acoustic
guitars do appear after the fact, but the core of each song is laid
bare, revealing a duo who is working through the motions on the
way to producing gorgeously bright, jubilant pop. “We are far
more experienced and comfortable as a live act,” says Stevenson.
“That is why the album was made to reflect our live sound. So,
overall, we didn’t alter the songs too much, as we want to be able
to replicate the album live. Mostly we made edits to stick to the
point on the recordings. It keeps them tight and interesting, I
think.”

“Still, it was the first recording we did that was more
complex than acoustic guitars and voice. Jeff and I have a knack
for arranging harmonies and backing vocals, so it was a lot of fun
to put together a record that is a reflection of our imagination
and vision. Mostly we write songs that can stand alone with a
couple of guitars and vocals. But this time, recording the album
gave us the opportunity to flesh out the songs and experiment
with keyboards, saxophone and synthetic soundscaping. This, of
course, opens a rather large can of worms, as the imagination can
go wild adding things. Once a record is finally complete it is the
result of thousands of small decisions, something much more
than two acoustic guitars and our voices. Saying that, I do think
it is a good introduction to The Human Statues. I’m even not sick of
listening to it yet. I think that is a good sign.”


Before heading back to Vancouver Island to play for a week
and spend the holidays with their respective families, The Human
Statues will take to the road in Ontario, introducing the album
along the way. At their shows, the duo choreographs dance
routines for each song to fit alongside the harmonies. Yes, that’s
right. “We do take ourselves seriously as artists throughout all
aspects of the creative process, but once people have paid to
come to one of our shows, it becomes our job to be entertaining,”
affirms Stevenson. “Therefore, we perform and make our shows
interactive. We like to connect to the audience. You might find us
break out occasional, Jackson 5–esque choreography, playing a
funk song about street meat or playing a folk ballad about lost
love. Really, anything is possible.” Sold. - Echo Weekly (Guelph, Ontario)


Link to Article:
http://news.therecord.com/article/497715

OK, sometimes they stand really still, but what better way to promote their name?

March 05, 2009

JASON SCHNEIDER

Jeff Bryant and Zachary Stevenson just want rock and roll to be fun again. As The Human Statues, they've been on a two-man crusade across North America for the past several years accomplishing this goal, often only armed with acoustic guitars.

But now with their self-titled sophomore release displaying a funky, electric, full-band sound, the Toronto-via-Vancouver duo is poised to reach an entirely new audience.

While their songs predominantly feature simple, upbeat sentiments, accentuated by Bryant and Stevenson's spot-on harmonies, it's their individual backgrounds in theatre that adds an added performance element that consistently wins over audiences, whether they are prepared for it or not. In fact, those attending local universities may recall the pair's impromptu appearances on campus as actual human statues.

"We started out as buskers before we decided to be a band, and it was only recently that we realized that we could be doing some kind of performance art again to promote the name," Bryant says. "It's a bit of a gimmick, but we're convinced that once we get people's interest, we can get them interested in the music itself."

According to Stevenson, "It's sort of a case of necessity being the mother of invention. Our forte has never been being adept at the latest technology to promote ourselves. We're slowly getting better at that, but our forte is really theatricality and dealing with people face to face. And what's great about doing things on the street is that you meet a fairly random cross-section of people. We've actually been finding that creating some intrigue has been translating into these people coming out to see us live."

If all of this seems reminiscent of the work of New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords, the Human Statues have heard it all. They don't deny they are fans, although Bryant and Stevenson stress that they are musicians first. "(Flight Of The Conchords) have influenced us not so much in terms of us saying, 'Yeah, let's do what they're doing,' but only that we share a very similar deadpan sense of humour," Bryant says.

Stevenson adds, " A funny thing happened to us at Pearson Airport though, a guy came up to me and all he said was, 'Flight Of The Conchords?' That was the moment I realized that because I wear glasses and have sideburns that I do sort of look like Jemaine (Clement). I think it's inevitable at this point that we'll get that comparison, especially when we play as a duo, but if people get a little more into our songs, they'll see that there's more lyrical depth than they might expect."

However, Stevenson's look may be more familiar to area theatre-goers since he played the title role in the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse production of The Buddy Holly Story in 2007. In fact, Stevenson will be reprising that role again at Stage West in Calgary for three months starting in April, with Bryant acting as music director .

Along with that, The Human Statues are excited about finally being able to play on a regular basis with a full band.

"The good thing about doing that show again is that during the offstage time we'll be able to work on new material," Stevenson says.

"Hopefully, we'll be ready after that to hit campuses in the fall across the country."

Live The Human Statues w/Andy Stedman Thursday, March 5 Maxwell's Music House, Waterloo Admission $7 Show time is at 9 p.m. More info at 519-498-5705 - The Record (Waterloo, Ontario)


Link to Article:
http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/parksville_qualicumbeachnews/entertainment/41927422.html

By Fred Davies - Parksville Qualicum Beach News

Published: March 26, 2009

The suggestion of a McCartney/Lennon dynamic was made partly in jest but former Parksvillian Zachary Stevenson, one half of the duo comprising folk-pop group The Human Statues, seized on the comparison.

“We really connected over that music,” said Stevenson of the Statues’ other member Jeff Bryant. “We got started jamming Beatles songs. We each have the ability to harmonize effortlessly together. That was the core of our interest to collaborate musically.”

Friday, April 3 is the day the exuberant musicians bring their act to the Whalebone Theatre in Parksville’s Ballenas Secondary School, part of a mini, west coast jaunt that includes appearances in Vancouver, Victoria and Duncan.

Described in some press clippings as the country’s next Barenaked Ladies or “a multi-generational crossbreed between The Flight of the Conchords and Simon and Garfunkel,” Stevenson and Bryant met as university students in Victoria (they’ve since relocated to Toronto) and take their name from the fact each of them once busked on the streets as, you guessed it, human statues.

“On our first album we needed a name and it was something we shared together,” said Stevenson in matter of fact tones while, at the same time, acknowledging how the rather unique talent has come in handy.

“We’ve been able to incorporate that into some of our choreography,” he said. “Just recently at the Folk Alliance in Memphis where there are hundreds of artists vying for attention we were acting as human statues in the lobby and able to catch the eye of people who might not have noticed us.”

While in town the two performers — who sometimes employ other musicians to round out the band but will appear locally as a duo — said they will lead a workshop prior to their show at Ballenas giving instruction in song writing and stage performance.

Stevenson once attended Ballenas himself and returns frequently to star in theatrical fare like a recently staged Buddy Holly revue. Both the Statues will soon jet off to Calgary for performance in a full blown production of the show with Stevenson as Holly and Bryant filling the role of musical director.

Though both keep busy with other artistic pursuits The Human Statues aim to continue their pursuit of spreading jubilation across the nation into the foreseeable future.

“We want to take this as far as it will go. So far its shown a lot of promise. We’ve been invited just recently to play in Liverpool and in Los Angeles,” said Stevenson noting curious music fans may want to catch the band sooner than later

“This will be our last show for a while around here,” he said.
- Parksville Qualicum Beach News (Parksville, BC)



Article Link: http://bit.ly/E66K9

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

JENNIFER MILLER JMILLER@WHISTLERQUESTION.COM

Whistler – It’s easily the most unconventional and quirky way to promote your band: stand motionless and stay silent when people try to find out what you’re doing. But strangely enough, the counterintuitive tactic seems to work for Jeff Bryant and Zach Stevenson — a.k.a. the Human Statues.

Making the effort to figure out what the Human Statues are all about is well worth it, and Whistler audiences will get the chance to see both sides of the duo when they come to town this weekend.

The Human Statues is actually the name for two acts in one — a musical duo that’s known for its lush vocal harmonies and playful onstage antics, and professional-grade human statue performances. Well, Bryant and Stevenson don’t usually do the two acts at the same time.

While they’ve both made a living performing as human statues in the past, the statue characters are now more of a tool to promote the band, Bryant said.

Instead of telling people about the music, or even performing snippets of songs, the two hit the streets, get deep into statue mode and freeze people out when they ask questions. They count on people to be so curious that they’ll go to the Human Statues website and discover the music themselves, then come check out a show.

“It really creates intrigue: ‘Who are these guys and what is the deal?’” Bryant said.

The statue performance speaks to both the unique qualities of the duo’s music, and both guys’ history in theatre and all kinds of performance art. The two originally met and struck up a friendship and musical affiliation while performing in a theatre production at the University of Victoria.

Though they’ve been singing together and writing music in snippets of free time since they met in 2002, it wasn’t until last year that they really started to pursue music full time.

Stevenson has been featured in theatrical productions across the country and has enjoyed success as a solo singer/songwriter and music producer. Bryant has written and produced short films and co-wrote and produced a musical comedy. Originally from Vancouver Island, they’re now both based in Toronto.

The two are comfortable onstage and incorporate comedic and theatrical aspects into their musical performance, and they often get attention because of their stage presence, Stevenson said. Audience members will laugh out loud at the cheesy choreography, but also be moved by the music, Bryant said.

“I think sometimes we’re songwriters second to performers,” Stevenson said.

But with comparisons to Simon and Garfunkel, the Barenaked Ladies, Moxy Fruvous and even the Beatles, the musical talent certainly doesn’t take a back seat. Catchy melodies, rich vocal harmonies, clever lyrics, silly and serious moments, and both folk and funk sensibilities — the Human Statues are worth at least a listen.

Better yet, discover them in full performance glory as part of Friday’s (July 3) ArtWalk opening reception. Starting at 6 p.m. the two will be roaming the Village Stroll doing their statue performance. Then, at 9 p.m. at Millennium Place, they’ll perform a free, one-hour musical set.

The Human Statues will also be out and about on the Village Stroll as part of street entertainment programming on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (July 4 and 5). For more info, visit www.thehumanstatues.com. - Whistler Question


By Patrick Blennerhassett - Victoria News

Published: August 29, 2008

Jeff Bryant and Zachary Stevenson, a.k.a. the Human Statues, are returning home to the West Coast for their CD release party.

Their self-titled sophomore release recently hit shelves, in time for the duo to play the Solstice Café on Sept. 5. Where as 2006’s Sweet Sorrow for the Happily Departed featured two acoustic guitars recorded over a few days, the new album sees the pop-funk duo expanding into new areas.

“With this album we had the opportunity to flesh out our band sound,” said Bryant.

“Now that we’re based in Toronto, we were able to get a lot of talented people involved in the project, which we feel quite privileged about.”

Multi-talented Victoria native Bryant is a veteran of the Victoria Fringe Festival whose co-written and produced films have shown on CBC, at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and the Milan Film Festival.

Stevenson, who hails from Parksville, is a former actor who worked on such shows as Hair and Urinetown: The Musical.

The two are known for their upstart stage shows, which they describe as spreading “jubilation” throughout the audience.

Even with their happy-go-lucky outlook on life and performing, it doesn’t mean the pair don’t take the music seriously, Bryant said.

“One of the reasons I’m optimistic about this band is that we really strive to be as genuine and honest as possible, in terms of our song writing and our presentation,” he said.

“Some of the songs on the new album are playful and upbeat, while others have a more atmospheric sound, but the consistent elements are the harmony and the lyrics.”

The band is also known for its online-savvy skills, as they have a MySpace page, a Facebook group, a YouTube page and their own website. They’re also tireless self-promoters, something boosted by Bryant’s arts management degree he picked up in New York.

But Bryant noted the emphasis has always been on the live shows – he and Stevenson got their start busking together in downtown Toronto.

“I think that people can enjoy the album in a different way than seeing us live. It gives them the opportunity to explore the songs more.

“One of the benefits of having these songs on disc is that we’re increasingly seeing people sing along at our live shows, which makes the live experience all the more inclusive and demonstrates in a tangible way that we’re connecting with our fans.”

Next Friday’s show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are available at the door. Solstice Café is located at 529 Pandora Ave. - Victoria News Group (Victoria, BC)


Link to Article:
http://www.eyeweekly.com/arts/comedy/article/50511

BY SEAN DAVIDSON
January 28, 2009

Though they're too polite to say so, and too eager-beaver to turn down any sort of attention, the Human Statues would probably prefer not to appear in a story flagged as being about "comedy."

Not that they mind the constant and favorable comparisons to Flight of the Conchords and the Barenaked Ladies. But as their stock continues to rise on the indie scene here in and in their native BC, the duo are at pains to set their whimsical, light-hearted harmonies apart from the New Zealand/Scarborough pack. And, while they're at it, to avoid being stuck with the dreaded "novelty act" label.

Those other guys, Jeff Bryant offers, with all due tips of the hat, are "comedians who are musical." While he and partner Zach Stevenson see themselves as "musicians with a sense of humor. And theatrical presence."

So, sort of a mirror image of the Conchords, in other words.

"We write what we write," says Stevenson, the mop-top of the duo, before a recent show at Bread and Circus, where the Statues now host a weekly showcase of indie music. "If we were marketed as a comedy band, people would be disappointed because we're not, but there are humorous elements."

The Statues don't load their songs with wacky lyrics or antics, but they're powered by a kind of bare-faced joyfulness that makes it easy to smile and laugh — though bouncy and radio-ready singles like "Street Meet" and "Carol That I Know" are countered by lower-key numbers like "The Man on The Radio" on their recent, self-titled album.

"It's selling your audience short to assume they're only capable of one emotion," notes Bryant. Better to be multi-dimensional even if it makes the act hard to categorize and a harder sell as he and Stevenson go into talks for a distribution deal.

The Statues take their name from their previous act as buskers, when they would stand stock-still, slathered in metallic face paint, for hours on end down at Harbourfront. Bryant and Stevenson still use the statue costumes when they go out to promote shows and hawk CDs but don't take the gimmick on stage.

"Which means," to add one more comparison to the list, "we're sort of the anti-KISS," says Stevenson. "We take our makeup off before our shows." - Eye Weekly (Toronto, Ontario)


Discography

The Human Statues 2.0 (2012)
The Human Statues (2008)

Photos

Bio

“Simon and Garfunkel's hooks and harmonies with the whimsy of Flight of the Conchords. Could they be Canada's next Barenaked Ladies?”
-David Lennam, Shaw TV

Jeff Bryant and Zach Stevenson: together they comprise folk/pop duo The Human Statues. Originally from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, these young men are on a mission to spread “jubilation” across the nation.

Whether it's playing high-energy band shows at festivals such as the Ottawa Blues Fest, or intimate acoustic performances in theatres across the country, Jeff and Zach are committed to connecting with people through humour, authenticity and a love of music and live performance.

Often described as a cross-breed between the Flight of the Conchords and Simon and Garfunkel, Jeff and Zach blend an energetic pop sensibility with lyrical depth and love of vocal harmony.

Armed with two guitars and their voices, The Human Statues perform what are essentially catchy pop songs -- well-crafted and entertaining. They leap and bounce around the stage and often choreograph their moves -- but there is no pretension. The joy translates immediately as they incorporate comedic and theatrical aspects into their show.