Dragonette, the “electronic-rock band who write pop songs”, brings its brand of witty electronic pop music to Vancouver’s Venue October 17th.
“At first,” confesses leads Dan Kurtz and Martina Sorbara, “it was a joke in our basement. Like a real pastiche, fully exploring a stereotype, and coming up with beyond-reasonable 80s guitar songs and synthpop songs. We weren’t referencing today’s pop music at all. We would go and listen to The Cars, and make a song that sounded like a bubblegum pop girl singing over a Pat Benatar record.”
At some point, however, they became more serious about being in a band. From the very start, the concept was, in stark contrast to the rest of the Canadian scene during that ‘Nickelback moment‘, unashamedly and unapologetically POP. Dan explains, “I’d like to write songs that at least I can remember. I’m very bad at remembering melodies and the lyrics, so it needs to be memorable!”
The results are dirty, hook-heavy, electropop monsters like “I Get Around” and “Competition”, depicting a world of guilt-free promiscuity and sexual predators on the prowl. Martina’s isn’t interested in writing, she says, “songs to get depressed to.” As Dan puts it, “It’s hard enough working on songs that are *fun*. I can’t even imagine what it‘s like working on miserable material…”
Dragonette are not, it’s fair to say, a band who’ve come up the hard way on the toilet gig circuit. Quite the opposite: through a few strokes of fortune, their first public appearances were baptisms of fire in the deep end of mega-concerts. Their second-ever show was supporting New Order at NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom, followed by a US tour supporting Duran Duran.
“Once or twice in my life,” says Dan, “I’ve had a crowd of 15,000 people in the palm of my hand, reaching a critical mass where they’re all cheering for you’, and that’s what happened at the Duran shows.” Not everyone, however, was impressed. “The next day, we saw someone’s blog: ‘I went to see Duran Duran in Dayton, Ohio, and this fucking terrible band from Canada opened… It was fronted by a slut wearing panties, and she was singing songs about Jesus and sex‘. And all these other people chimed in, saying ‘I know. I took my son!’ Which is hilarious, because Duran Duran are the bad boys of the 80s. They’ve done everything you can think of, with four more ounces of class A narcotics on top…”
By putting a great deal of thought into their visual presentation, Dragonette contravened with the any-colour-so-long-as-it‘s-black cliché of alternative rock. “It’s so easy to wear the skinny jeans halfway down your ass, and disappear into your fanbase. The real challenge is to look the way we do onstage, and be that person offstage as well. That’s kinda fun. It’s also terrifying. But we wanna give a great show, and that’s part of it.”
Dragonette eventually signed with Mercury, and, like fellow Canadians Peaches (who they know) and Gonzales (with whom Dan went to school), headed for Europe. So, the duo decamped to London with drummer Joel, where they’ve been honing their small but perfectly-formed, all-killer-no-filler repertoire.
In the meantime, Martina has accidentally become a pop star. When she wrote and sang lead vocals on a new Basement Jaxx track, “Take Me Back To Your House”, she had no idea that it was to be their next single. But that’s her, all over your screens in the Dougal Wilson-directed video, cossack-dancing in front of a tank driven by Stalin.
Next, it’s Dragonette’s turn to become pop stars in their own right. If that’s the correct description… “I don’t see us as a pop band,” says Dan, “so much as an electronic-rock band who write pop songs.”
Saturday, October 17th @ 7:30pm
Venue, 881 Granville Street, Vancouver
Tickets are $18.50 (plus service charges) available on August 7th from Live Nation online or by calling 604-280-4444.