The Fast Romantics are a band who seem to have everything going for them. The foursome from Calgary, Alberta, Canada have had their current members in place since late 2007 – Matthew Angus (Vocals), Matthew Kliewer (Guitar), Jeffrey Lewis (Bass), Alan Reain (Drums) – and have been enjoying a very successful streak, with no signs of slowing down. Their self-titled debut album is overflowing with their signature quirky sound and has had people talking and instilling constant praise on the band since its release.
Their standout sound even caught the ears of some industry bigwigs and The Fast Romantics were named one of the four finalists in the SPIN Earth/John Varvatos Contest in search of the world’s next great rock and roll band. As one of the four finalists they performed at the old CBGB’s in New York City last September, where they absorbed as much as they possibly could from the rocking judges panel, which included: John Varvatos, Perry Farrell and Antonio “L.A.” Reid.
The Rock and Roll Report caught up with the two Matthews the day after their big New York City gig, just as they were getting set to rock Montreal, Quebec.
Q: How did the four of you come together?
A: Angus: We were each picked on really bad in school and we were geeks, so we figured lets just get together and try and do something. We were really bad at drawing comics together so we started picking up instruments and that kind of took over.
Q: Any particular story behind the name?
A: Angus: We’ve been asked that four times and we don’t have a cool answer for it yet. I mean, we can be fast and we’re definitely romantic, and we’re not impotent or anything else that that might imply […] We were really desperate for a name and we’d been trying to get all these different names, so we locked ourselves in a room and I think it took us ten hours.
Q: Recording the album, what was the best and worst moment?
A: Angus: I think the best part was that we had all the time in the world, and the worst part was that we had all the time in the world. We built our own studio and that was amazing ‘cause we got to do anything we wanted, try anything we wanted, but, at the end of the day, we spent a year on the record. […] In the end I think that’s good ‘cause we got to work out our sound.
Q: What’s the most unexpected thing that happened while in studio?
A: Angus: Matt almost died.
Kliewer: Yeah, I got T-boned by a semi-truck on the way home from recording a song called Casablanca. Major intersection in Calgary, a semi-truck came and hit me pretty hard, ran a red light and yeah, it sucked.
Q: Do you have a song-writing process?
A: Angus: For the most part. Generally what happens is we’ll [Angus and Kliewer] just kind of toss some ideas around for a few months, and then we’ll bounce those ideas off the other guys, and then we’ll kind of bring it together.
Q: How would you describe your sound in one word?
A: Kliewer: Sexy!
Q: What’s your favorite song on the album?
A: Kliewer: I think probably Soup Song for me. I think there’s a lot of dynamics in that song […] everybody really kind of shows off at some point in that song […] It’s a song I’m really proud of.
Angus: Mine changes all the time, but right now it’s Spooning The Gorilla. I think it best shows off who we are, both musically and kind of our sense of humor, but also musically it’s just where I think we want to go.
Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A: Angus: We drink a shot of Jager before every show. And that’s not an advertisement, we don’t have a sponsorship yet.
Kliewer: And you can print that.
Angus: In bold!
Kliewer: We actually dance to a song. There’s a song called Fancy Pants by a band called Ween. We’ll get together, we’ll sing that song and jump up and down.
Q: You just played the SPIN Earth/John Varvatos show in New York City, how was that?
A: Angus: Amazing. It was such a tightly run organization. They had stage managers, amazing stage set-up, basically rebuilt CBGB’s […] I think they went like 400 people over capacity.
Kliewer: It was pretty cool: Perry Farrell sitting there, John Varvatos sitting there, Mick Rock sitting there. These are legends from the music business, you know, and these guys became pretty tight with us […] it was specific about what we do, so to hear from the legends, talking about our creations, that was awesome.
Q: If you collaborate with any musician/band who would you choose?
A: Kliewer: Living or dead? Dead, John Lee Hooker. Living, Tom Waits.
Angus: Dead, John Lennon. Living?
Kliewer: John Lennon!
Angus: John Lennon, I’ll go with that, thank you!
Q: If you had to listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
A: Kliewer: The island album? It’d be London Calling, The Clash.
Angus: I think probably The Beatles ‘s White Album ‘cause it’s really long. Got a lot of good material […] you get a lot of bang for your buck. You have to sit through crap like Rocky Raccoon …
Kliewer: Yeah, but it’s good comic relief every once in a while. It’s like watching Seinfeld.
Q: What’s been the ultimate Fast Romantics moment so far?
A: Angus: It might not be the ultimate moment, but there’s something special about having Mick Rock rename our band Fags on Acid.
Kliewer: I think for me it would be walking off an airplane onto a tarmac, holding my guitar, in New York City for the first time.
Angus: And like you said too, going from Toronto to New York City to Montreal, all in a row, it’s pretty nice.
Kliewer: I’ve been in all three cities today!
Q: What’s been the craziest Fast Romantics moment so far?
A: Kliewer: We were approached for crack in Winnipeg. We were just at a stoplight […] and this couple came up […] slamming on the window asking for crack. Jeff actually, he knows karate of the mouth, and he uses his famous line called “Hey there!” and it worked and they buggered off.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?
A: Kliewer: Yeah, you know what I’d like to say is I’ve never been to Montreal, I’ve been here for about an hour and a half, two hours and it’s f—ing awesome! It’s a great city, there’s a certain buzz here.
Angus: Next person who asks us where our favorite city to play was, even if nobody shows up, we might say Montreal. Just ‘cause it’s an amazing town.