Across The Board (ATB) is a Canadian rock/ alt country band from Toronto, and creators of the Youtube cover series “Pick Up & Play”. ATB’s debut album “Jane On Fire” – released June 14, 2016 – pays homage to classic rock guitar riffs using an alt-country mix of acoustic harmonics and synthy electronics. We spoke to ATB briefly about their musical past, present, and future – as well as their debut album right here on ET! Enjoy our interview with Across The Board below!
Entertwine: Tell us a little bit about yourselves! How did the band form? Across The Board started as a Youtube cover band, getting together every Sunday to create a music video of a relevant or timely coversong. After over 100 videos on Youtube and a growing subscribership, we decided it was time to flex our creative wings in the direction of original songs. The initial band was a collection of Toronto musicians directed by Jacqueline Auguste as periodic collaborations with a group of regulars—the regulars who now make up the band Across The Board. You have just released your debut Album, “Jane On Fire”. What can you tell us about this album?
Jane On Fire” – released on June 14, 2016 – pays homage to classic rock guitar riffs using an alt-country mix of acoustic harmonics and synthy electronics. This 9-song project was 2 years in the making for us and represents a collection of tales with common themes of love lost, unrequited dreams, and uncovered secrets. We wrote about 20 songs from which we chose the 9 that made the final cut. We created an album that seems to represent our individual musical influences—classic rock for Parry our lead guitarist and Andy our bassist; country-rock/folk influences for Marty and Jackie; accompanied by some intricate pop-rock beats from drummer Paul. It’s been interesting trying to classify our music into a specific genre. It’s not completely rock, nor is it perfectly country—and it wanders towards the rock side of country-rock and slightly to the left of pop-rock. So if there was a “pop-country-alt-rock” genre, we’d hit that on the nail!
What was the recording process like? Do you have a favorite song off the album? Recording the album was interesting. As a Youtube band with a weekly series, we’ve collected some amazing equipment over the process of creating more than 100 music videos and we’ve built our own studio here in Toronto. This gave us the space, tech and experience to produce our own album on our own schedule. We are used to recording “off the floor” session videos, so it was a treat to be able to break down each song track by track and reassemble them without the pressure of a Youtube deadline. And today’s digital tech allows us to work remotely from each other from home – spending hours at night and on weekends online together editing and sharing ideas.
My favourite song (Jackie) is “Jane On Fire” – the first song I wrote for the album. It’s the title track and the lyrics describe the urban decay of the Toronto neighborhood of Jane and Finch. This area was once a bustling vibrant community of multiculture and new immigrants dreaming of a better life. Unfortunately the area now falls prey to gang and gun violence and growing problems of poverty and social strife. I wrote the song after witnessing burning cars on the corner of Jane Street and Wilson Avenue in Toronto that had been vandalized early one morning close to our studio. It seemed such a fitting analogy to the Jane Street condition and personifying the area as a woman struggling to save her grace was inspiring as a songwriter.
How did you come up with the idea with your Youtube Cover Series, “Pick Up & Play”. What has the reaction been like? “Pick Up & Play” was inspired by the traditional campfire jams we grow up with here in Canada. Someone always seems to have a guitar or two and a tambourine or drum of some sort. Where I come from in Alberta, some of the best musicians I have ever played with come out of those impromptu jams. The Youtube series was built on the same principle of picking a song and then laying it down without any lead time or rehearsal—thus the name “pick up and play”. The reaction has been great. Not only do we have many of Toronto’s top talent coming out to the studio to play with us, but we have a growing subscribership both on Youtube and Patreon. It’s a wonderful way to challenge ourselves as a band and create high quality music videos in the meantime. We’ve managed to attract talented video production artists to help us conceptualize, light, film and edit each show, using all different types of effects and film ideas. I think my favourite episode is the “Exes and Ohs” cover we did (Elle King) which turned out to be a fun parody staring one of our regular musicians, Nat Novak.
When you all aren’t performing, what takes up your time? Well we all still have day jobs! Marty and I are both physicians and Andy works with us at the same hospital in Toronto. Parry is media professional and runs a busy printing company. Paul is a full time professional drummer/percussionist who plays with various bands in town including Trouble & Daughter among others.
What else can we expect to see from you in 2016? We’ve already started writing songs for our next album. We’re going to spend a bit more time outside of the studio playing live and we’d like to tour with Jane On Fire. I think we will continue to grow our Youtube series because that’s an incredible journey of its own that we all enjoy immensely. Jane On Fire has really helped us grow as a performing band outside of the studio and it feels to good to be performing to a live off-line audience!
Connect With Across The Board:
http://acrosstheboardmusic.ca – ATBs official website
http://pickupandplay.tv – ATBs Youtube fanpage
http://janeonfire.ca – ATBs full length debut album