NEUROSONIC - A Smack In The Mouth

November 22, 2006, 12 years ago

By Carl Begai

neurosonic feature

Folks in Canada may remember a band called Out Of Your Mouth that rose to fame in 2004 with a cover version of the Madonna hit ‘Music’. The song received regular airplay on MuchMusic and their debut album, Draghdad, went on to sell 15,000 units in Canada alone. It wasn’t enough for frontman Jason Darr, however, who had very definite ideas about what he wanted out of a career as a professional musician. His bandmates didn’t share that vision, resulting in the birth of the one man army known as Neurosonic. And while Neurosonic has become a band since the release of the debut album, Drama Queen, this is clearly his baby from top to bottom, inside and out.

“You never know how things are going to work until you sit down and try to write songs with somebody,” Darr offers, opening things up with a look back at Out Of Your Mouth. “In the past I haven’t been a good co-writer with other band members, which is why Neurosonic is the animal that it is. This is the first work that I’ve done that is actually 100% my vision from start to finish. When Out Of Your Mouth started to wind down I moved to Vancouver, took myself out of the equation and started working in my manager’s studio, got to know how ProTools worked and started writing songs by myself in my own headspace. I was completely unaware of everything going on around me musically. I just wrote from the heart, and I had the time and the facilities to really, really craft stuff. The demos I was making were better than my major label debut, so I sent the stuff to the guys in Out Of Your Mouth and they said, ‘Yeah, it’s okay…’ I was like, ‘Are you out of your fucking minds? This is so much better than the shit we did.’ So, that was a real eye-opener for me. I realized it was time to let go of the dead weight and do stuff on my own.”

Neurosonic’s debut, Drama Queen, is a brilliant, inventive mix of industrial, pop, rock and metal. Sort of a sarcastic take on Nine Inch Nails minus the angst, and a feast for any open-minded music fan.

“That’s totally it,” says Darr. “This music is totally natural for me. If it was contrived people would be able to smell it from a mile away. The stuff on this album I made purely for me. I wrote music that I wanted to hear. I enjoy listening to it and this is the stuff I want to play. When you see us play you can see that we enjoy the music. There’s nothing contrived about it and that gives me an edge because a lot of people aren’t necessarily ready for something like Neurosonic. Some people love the album the moment they hear it, and there are other people that hate it, particularly Out Of Your Mouth fans. There’s already a bit of a witch hunt there because we had success with a cover song, and I guess they figure a guy who succeeded with a cover tune can’t do something original that’s any good. But, every bad review I’ve gotten has been good. They complain about how the album changes gears and that there’s this pop sensibility in this industrial music, and I take it as all good. You can play our music at a club, in your car, at the gym and for your girlfriend. This music is all real, it’s all me and there’s nothing pretentious about it.”

With an album’s worth of music in the can, Darr’s next step was to form a band to carry the Neurosonic name on the road. They have been touring almost non-stop since Drama Queen’s release this past summer, hitting Canada, the States and Europe in rapid sucession to rave reviews. And seeing the band perform live one thing is absolutely clear: Neurosonic is hungry.

“Everywhere we’ve played, the reaction has been really positive,” Darr confirms. “People see us live and they’re like, ‘Holy fuck!’ We did a tour across America in September; people had never heard of us, and we were practically selling CDs off the stage. We’ve only done one tour in Canada and it was several months before the record came out, and we haven’t been back, so we really haven’t given Canada proper attention yet. But we will. And we’ll be heading back to Europe in 2007. That’s an incredible market. They really love to be entertained over there.”

As mentioned, Drama Queen is Darr’s musical character sketch of himself, but he admits the album is also a reaction to the present day climate of the music industry, where many artists are confined to a certain stylistic box and all it takes to become a star is an appointment on the casting couch.

“The song ‘So Many People’, for example, is about Ashlee Simpson, my favourite girl in the world,” says Darr. “At the shows we did in the States the ratio in applause quadrupled when people heard the lyrics. It’s my own little commentary on the music business, definitely. I mean, a whore like that selling two million album? Please! If it wasn’t for auto-tuning in the studio she wouldn’t have a fucking record. It’s disgraceful, it’s disgusting, and as a musician it’s embarrassing. This goes back to the Out Of Your Mouth thing, where people had really harsh judgements about me and the band because we had success with a cover song. It was fun, which was the only reason we did it. The song was in our set for four years before we even got signed.”
“Out Of Your Mouth is a drop in the bucket compared to Neurosonic as far as my pride goes,” he adds. “I don’t think it’s nearly as good of a record as Drama Queen.”

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