Who Knew?
CoC interrogates Canada's Lesser Known
by: Adrian Bromley
It's always a great feeling when you discover a great new band to be into. Such was the case with a couple of listens of the sophomore effort _Inner Beast_ from Lesser Known. The Windsor, Ontario quartet (comprised of singer Spaz, drummer Paul Turgeon, guitarist Cory Chauvin and bassist Roger Beaudry) play some of the coolest (as they call it) "border-city-groove-core" out there right now in the independent circle. While influences of many metal / hard rock acts run through the make-up of Lesser Known, it's the band's undying love of abstract weirdness and gritty rock 'n roll punch that makes this an enjoyable listen. Not to mention the band are hard workers at promoting themselves, putting blood, sweat and tears into making this band a success. Chronicles of Chaos caught up with lead singer Mike "Spaz" Davidson via e-mail to shoot the shit about the band, song writing and the Canadian metal music scene. Here goes:

CoC: Most bands nowadays feel that they have to play a certain style of hard rock / metal music to fit into the music scene. The music of Lesser Known, while spirited with hard rockin' grooves and heaviness, is different from most bands out there. Do you hear or see that?

Spaz: Definitely, I see that. That's what we are trying to do. Our biggest thing is not being pigeon holed into being a certain type of band. Like certain styles are right cool, death metal, cross-over, thrash -- whatever, but the thing is they've been done to death! Only the very first bands playing that stuff were cool in my books, because they were leaders. That's the path Lesser Known is taking, to create our own image, style and career. You don't have to play blast beats and tune your guitars so the strings are hanging like spaghetti to be heavy. Songs on our records are all over the place and our fans just say, "Lesser Known is heavy, man".

CoC: What in your mind is the hardest aspect of being an independent band?

Spaz: Time and money. To be a manager, agent, publicist, accountant, record company, work 40 hours a week to pay the bills, plus having to show up at every gig and perform to the utmost of our ability. And sure, we make good money playing and selling our merchandise, but the total volume of our overhead is just barely getting covered by our earnings. On the other hand, being in an indie band is great, because we have total control over our careers in every aspect. At this stage in the game, we've been in this band seven years now, we have developed to the point where we are seeking to assemble a professional team to maximize our collective careers and our net worth. So any industry big wigs out there reading this, call our office if you want to cash in.

CoC: Going into the sophomore record, was there concern to top the first record? What production/writing changes occurred the second time out?

Spaz: In my eyes, _Inner Beast_ smokes _Bring an Open Mind_. Two major changes happened along the road to releasing _Inner Beast_. The first was our second guitar player was excused from the band. After over five years of being with the guy, we came to a point where we realized that he wasn't on the same wavelength as us, he didn't have the same goals and objectives. Lesser Known has always been a family thing, with the same original members. People were dying to get their shot at being in the band, but we decided against it because we couldn't see having someone new in our inner circle. We call it "the gang", it's like if you're not in the gang you don't know what's going on in here. So right there, the sound and writing was stripped down to a more single guitar driven in-your-face approach. The second major thing was the recording. _Bring an Open Mind_ was recorded at Metal Works Studios in Toronto in about three weeks. It was way too anal and uptight, for me anyway. Excellent production, and a professional environment, but it seemed constricted. On _Inner Beast_, our veteran producer Ron Skinner ("The Man, The Myth, The Legend") again came to our rescue by getting the best gear and setting up sessions in a farm house in rural southern Ontario. It was a way more laid back, relaxed atmosphere to lay the beds down in. All in all, from my view point, _Inner Beast_, from its production, songwriting and packaging, is what a second full length is supposed to be.

CoC: What do you think about the Canadian hard rock / metal scene in general? How is the scene there in Southern Ontario?

Spaz: For some reason, from the public up to the music industry, people have this impression of Canadian bands as being these melodic, tree-hugging, acoustic guitar strumming flakes. The Canadian scene is rocking! From London, to Toronto, to Ottawa, to the killer Quebec scene, all the way to the far East coast, then back across to Thunder Bay, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton and right into Vancouver. Canadian metal is alive and shredding just like everywhere else in the world. Metal mutates, but it does not die. Hell, Lesser Known draws from 300 up to 750 all ages fans to our hall shows down here in southern Ontario, so no one can tell me that there's no metal scene in Canada!

CoC: In regards to the many influences running through the music of Lesser Known, what band or bands have been an inspiration (influence) for the band?

Spaz: I'll start with the biggest thing that binds Lesser Known, the influence that Metallica has had on us. For all these fools out there trying to diss them, go lie down. They were the ones that brought metal to the world on a large scale and opened the doors for countless bands to follow. Show some respect here; even if you don't like their new stuff, there's no way that you can cut down _Kill 'Em All_, _Ride the Lightning_ or _Master of Puppets_! For our band, we don't scam them or want to be them, we just really respect what they've done, what they've become and the whole mystique with them. As for other stuff, I'll just throw a bunch of band names together that I know the guys and I listen to or have been inspired by. Bands like Rush, Slayer, Death, Faith No More, The Cure, RHCP, Discharge, Misfits, Anthrax/SOD, The Accused, GBH, Minor Threat, Ice T, Public Enemy, NWA, Sepultura/Soulfly, Alice In Chains / Jerry Cantrell, Primus... the list goes on and on and on. We are music lovers who create music for music lovers. As long as you bring an open mind, there's gonna be something on a Lesser Known album that grabs you by the balls.

CoC: Having not seen the band live yet, how does the band differ from record and live?

Spaz: Lesser Known -is- a live band. There is no comparison. Sure it's great to sit back and throw in our disc and be enveloped in good production and textured songwriting, but the live show is where Lesser Known dominates. I grew up being in Detroit almost every weekend to see gigs at all the small scummy clubs there. The guys and I have seen countless concerts and that carries over into our live show. If you are a fan of an aggressive, non-stop, pounding, sweating, thrashing, head banging, stage diving, head walking show, then come to a Lesser Known gig the next time we are in town. Personally, I get right off being on stage. Sometimes when we walk off after the set, I look at someone and say, "Fuck me, that was better than sex".

CoC: How often does the band write material? Is the band eager to put new material out soon, or will you work this material into the ground before recording again?

Spaz: We worked really hard to put _Inner Beast_ together, so we want to push it to the limits before laying it into the catalogue. It came out this spring, so we will push it until the end of next year. I want to have ample time between writing so that we can come up with a totally different third LP. That's the great thing about Lesser Known. Fans are always wondering, "What the Hell are they gonna do next?", instead of "Yeah, great, another LK record". Sure, the guys are dying to bang some new stuff out in the rehearsal room, but I keep them back and want to hold in all the creative juices until we just explode on the next album. Actually, we already have the name for it, I have a few sets of lyrics I am working on, and Cory, our guitar player / partner in slime, has some riffs laid down on the Fostex. Sorry I can't tell you any more, but I'd have to kill you if I told you!

CoC: People out there assume musicians are in their own little world for the most part? Do you think it takes a certain person to be a musician, to tour, write music, etc.?

Spaz: You have to be certifiably insane to the core to be a musician. <Laughs> No, but seriously, there are two ways that you can look at it. Sure, it takes a certain type of person to do it, just like a brain surgeon, or a cop or a teacher, whatever. But in the same respect, it is a job like any other. You have to work hard at it to ensure that you are successful and it takes determination, skills and persistence. That's one of the biggest mistakes that bands just starting out make, not separating and understanding the words in the phrase "music business". Sure, it's great to get out there with your buddies and jam, and say, "Ya, we're gonna be famous", but it's a totally different story to actually become a professional musician. A blurb of lyrics from the opening track on _Inner Beast_, "Hate List", totally sums up this struggle: "It ain't hard to say, but it's hard to see, this doesn't bother me".

CoC: Most bands have a great tour or show story... any good ones?

Spaz: Oh, man, Lesser Known is like a walking comedy show. We create new skits every time we get together. Probably about the best time we've ever had on-stage was when we drew 750 fans to a headlining gig in Chatham, Ontario, a while back. We were all having stomach ulcers thinking we were gonna lose our shirts on the gig, but then just streams and streams of kids came. We nearly lost our minds! So we had to oblige the mass of screaming Lesser Known fans by ripping into a devastating set. We had kids singing along to the lyrics, stage diving, and the pit was like a whirling cauldron of death! Remember that thing I said about performing being better than sex? I think I shot my wad in my shorts that night on stage.

CoC: What does success mean to you? Having an LP out? Playing live? How does Lesser Known determine success?

Spaz: Well, we've been down in the trenches for seven years now. Lesser Known is not taking "no" for an answer. We've been to Hell and back five times, even stopped for a couple cold ones with the Devil! It's all made up of minor successes every day, you know, like this album release, our last show in Ottawa, THIS INTERVIEW. Our big thing is having masses of people enjoy our music as much as we enjoy creating it. The way we measure success is the day that I get to shake these guys' hands and walk on stage at something like the Castle Donnington or the Dynamo Festival and begin the decimation. We are determined to do everything in our power to get there as a unit and we're not going to stop 'til we have it in our hands. Oh, and by the way, the fans in the front row that day had better have rain coats on 'cause I'm gonna explode.

(article submitted 1/10/1998)

10/25/2000 A Bromley 6 Lesser Known - Higher Levels
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