Recently, a group of talented musicians did the impossible and breathed new life into this aficionado’s decrepit anthology of old favourites. The name of this soulful bunch is the Armchair Cynics and their gift is arena-filling sound, evocative song writing and an edgy yet captivating presentation.

Not only is their music spellbinding when heard over the airwaves but heard live it is awesome and I’m not the only one who shares this sentiment. Included in the Armchair Cynic’s list of fans is Nickelback frontman, Chad Kroeger. Kroeger and business partner Jonathin Simkin have signed the Cynics to a record deal with their label, 604 Records. This union gave rise to their sold-out EP titled “Killing the Romance”.

Simkin told me that neither him nor Kroeger could overlook the Cynic’s ability to write first-rate songs that are not only melodic but also richly layered. That wasn’t their only alluring quality.

“Initially we signed the band to a demo deal to make sure that everyone felt good about working together. The first recordings turned out so well that we decided to go ahead with a record deal. The band has a lot of qualities. Great songs. Great show. Good looking. The whole package was great.”

Lead singer Kenn Coutu is a huge vocal talent with a commanding stage presence and characteristic frontman confidence. Recently he took some time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts about their music and what they have in store for fans on their upcoming album.

JC: Tell me about the different personalities that make up the Armchair Cynics?

KC: When the Armchair Cynics first started out it was myself, Aaron the bassist and two other guys. I did most of the writing. Then Adam, our lead guitarist, came along. In the beginning he would always say, “Hey I write music too.” But I was so cocky and thought, “I don’t need your help!” Luckily when I heard some of his stuff I realized, “Wow, this guy is really good.”

JC: So you’re all from Vancouver Island?

KC: Yeah, actually it’s kind of funny because Ryan the drummer and I are both originally from Langford so we have a really good comradery. Aaron is from Brentwood Bay and Adam is from Oak Bay, so there is a good-natured rivalry between us (laughter). The more intense personality is myself. Adam is an amazing talented guy. He can play drums, guitar, keyboards. There is so much stuff he can do. He’s really good with computers and graphic arts.

JC: I heard he did the cover for ‘Killing the Romance’?

KC: He facilitated it. He took everyone’s ideas and put it all together. Then there’s Ryan and he’s just a really hard working, really nice guy. It makes us laugh when we talk about how nice he is but he’s talented and he hits the drums really hard. Aaron is a great guy. He’s like the fatherly figure. He’s so diplomatic about everything. If it comes down to personality, it works out perfect for a band.

JC: So as a band, what are your strengths?

KC: We focus on what is really important to us, which are the songs. A lot of bands write really catchy music and their songs are fun and cool but people often wonder what they are trying to say. What are they saying? Nothing. We just try to write really good songs. The down side to that is it takes a little longer. We don’t pound them out just for the sake of getting them done.

JC: What was it like working with Kroeger and Simkin?

KC: One thing about the Chad and Jon team is that they were really good at teaching us. It’s kind of hard to explain but they would tell us that they really wanted to see us get excited about a particular part of a song. They didn’t say, “Do this.” But it was more like, “Show me how many different shades of excitement you have.” Eventually we would find the one that works. Sometimes I’d sit there and try a whole bunch of things off the top of my head and act like a dork and make stuff up. Then Chad would tell me, “Kenn, don’t ever do that again.”(laughter)

JC: How much time did you spend in the studio?

KC: Recording was a long process. It took months and months of going back and forth to Vancouver and trying to work with Chad’s and the other producer’s schedules. We recorded at Mushroom studios, Warehouse studios, Greenhouse studios. We recorded at something like five different studios.

JC: So which do you prefer, touring or writing?

KC: I love to write. Touring is like commercials and because you play it over and over again you get really good at it. Don’t get me wrong. I love to play.

JC: Now you have a huge fan base and one that is growing exponentially.

KC: We really wanted to get engrained in Victoria and it worked out really well for us because we have a great bond. Radio has been working well. It’s amazing what radio does. I can go out and play ‘Bang’ over and over but once people finally here it on the radio that’s when you really see them clapping. It’s amazing. We use MySpace a lot. Whenever we were going to a new town we would just email everyone and tell them we were coming.

JC: Without using labels, how would you describe your sound?

KC: It’s really hard. We go from a little bit ‘dancey’ to mellow to hard and aggressive. I really enjoy bands that are classic, nothing too offensive or too general. Look at the Foo Fighters. They are a classic example. Look at ‘Learning to Fly’. How pop was that? So different compared to their first album. You get a lot of producers who’ll say ‘you’ve got to find your sound’ and it’s like, can we get over that already? It’s kind of a dinosaur approach because if you look at anyone’s CD collection you couldn’t say it has a sound. So it’s in the rock genre but it can go either way.

JC: Was “Bang” the obvious choice for a single?

KC: Yeah. It was up. It was rock. It got your attention. It was one of the last songs to be added to the CD but with that said “Coalmine” was one of our other pics.

JC: Are the songs personal?

KC: Completely.

JC: They sound personal.

KC: Yeah, which sometimes I feel really weird about, but I’ve gone into writing fictional songs with stories that I find intriguing. I’ll take real life and mix it with an interesting story. I’m evolving that way. That way they aren’t all so personal. After a while the guys make a big joke out of it and call it, “Things That Happened in Kenn’s Life Vol 2″ (laughter). I mean come on, how many break ups can a guy have (laughter)?

JC: Has it been hard trying to make it big in Canada?

KC: I don’t know, is it? I hope we find out. I think because of the type of music we play, we’ve been lumped in with Nickelback and Theory of a Dead Man and so we have had some backlash.

JC: What are the band’s short-term goals?

KC: The short-term goal is to do in Vancouver, what we’ve done here. Maybe that’s small thinking on my part but we want to slowly build our way east. The east has a really different music scene. And the States! We’ve got a lot of fans in Washington and out that way.

JC: Long-term goals?

KC: The Long-term goal is to make this a career that lasts longer than five years. The music industry is really fickle. But the music industry needs you. They need musicians to fill those spots. Who is the next, Our Lady Peace? Who is the next, Matt Good Band? So musicians are in demand as much as they think they are not.

JC: If there were one thing that you would want everyone to know about the Armchair Cynics, what would it be?

KC: It’s all about the songs. We just try to touch people. That’s all I want to do. You know? Just make that good moment in a song. Just to make people stop in their car when you’re driving down the road and scream, “Yeah!”

JC: So that’s all I’ve got. Thank you.

KC: Thank you, very much.

Jackie Chaulk is a freelance writer and novelist based out of Vancouver Island. Her articles cover such topics as current issues, parenting, travel, music and wellness. To contact Jackie call 1-866-832-5167 or click here to send her an Email.

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