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Band monikers aren’t usually interesting enough to prompt a probing question, but a certain explosive Canadian power-pop/rock group will soon make all of North America wonder: What does it mean to “Play The Angel”?
One thing’s for sure, whether they’re angels hiding their halos or demons in disguise, these four rock monsters sure don’t play around onstage—in fact, they’re downright “Indestructible,” the name of one of the high octane tracks from their new five song self-titled EP and the working title of their upcoming full length debut album, due later this fall on Mungo Park Records. To assist them with their impending invasion of the U.S., they have holed up in the studio with acclaimed Montreal based producer Eric Collard, who produces music for Rhythm FM and has helmed recording projects for winners of Star Academy, Quebec’s answer to American Idol.
Based on the major buzz Play the Angel has been generating, it’s a good bet that they’ll help Collard add to his collection of two platinum records. Since kicking the you-know-whats of 32 other bands and winning the 2007-08 Omnium du Rock contest in Montreal, Play The Angel has been in nonstop motion. They cut their first demo with producer/engineer Gautier Marinof—who worked with the legendary Bob Rock on Simple Plan's second release--at Studios Piccolo, a facility favored by local legends and international A-listers alike. Typifying the band’s work ethic, frontman/guitarist Bobby Bisciglia says, “Three days, one broken cymbal, four snare skins, five packs of strings, a few cases of beer and hours of home video footage later, we had a kick-ass demo in the can.”
Though the band has kept live performances on the down low while focusing on their writing and recording, their songs have been popping up in a lot of unique venues, from the Bell Centre—where the fiery “Ready Or Not” is played regularly at Montreal Canadiens hockey games—to the cult hit Sid’s Cycle Show on Canada’s MenTV and Global TV. Play The Angel was also featured recently in the Montreal daily 24 Heures.
Veterans of the Montreal rock scene remember Bobby and drummer Rob Tremblay when they were members of the popular band One Away, who performed at such prestigious venues as Montreal's Hard Rock Cafe, Metropolis, and even the Bell Centre, where they opened for Bon Jovi in December 2005. Despite these successes, the two were itching to explore new avenues and sounds, so they set off on their own, quickly recruiting lead guitarist Phil Bérubé, who’d paid his dues slogging it out on Canada's stages with various Francophone indie rock bands. The search for a bassist was slightly more painstaking, but it paid off with their discovery of DominiK Gagné, originally from ‘NecronomicoN’ with whom he co-headlined a Canadian tour with Kataklysm, and also opened for such metal icons as King Diamond, Cradle of Filth, and Dimmu Borgir.
“The reason Play The Angel has such a great chemistry is because Rob and I went through a very heavy audition process to find Phil and DominiK,” says Bobby. “Some people just want competent players. We were looking for a lot of key things and demanded a lot. These guys came in prepared, they’re nice people, hard workers and were total pros we knew it would be great to work with. Besides our combined experience, Play The Angel is a band headed places for the simple reason that we’re all hard workers who are focused on making great music for the long haul. Our inspirations include Foo Fighters, Our Lady Peace and Fall Out Boy, and the sound we have been working on is a vibe that we would like to listen to as fans. It took a year to find the right grooves and develop material we felt was strong, and when we won the competition, we knew we were onto something big.”
“Play The Angel” is actually an old expression which means putting on a friendly, hypocritical façade; it can be applied to being false in an intimate relationship but the band’s socio-political mindset finds them relating it in their songs to the politics, the government, corporate America and the lack of integrity that frequently permeates our culture. “Indestructible” is one of these cuts, a song Rob penned about questioning self-appointed authority figures and not letting them decide your future for you. “Don’t Follow” is a poignant, acoustic oriented ballad written from the perspective of someone dying in a hospital bed. He talks about the mistakes he made in life with drugs and alcohol, and warns his listener that even though it all seems glamorous now, it’s best not to follow in his self-destructive footsteps. “Ready Or Not” is the EP’s and the album’s expected single, and Play The Angel will soon be shooting a video for it.”
“As crazy as it sounds,” Bobby says, “no matter what we’ve accomplished so far, we’re really excited about the hard work that lies ahead. You think when you’ve won a major competition like Omnium du Rock that you’ve made a major step, but it’s just the first. But it’s fun work and we are committed to it because music is what we want to do with our lives. Everyone’s on the same page, and we’re definitely driving forward.”