By Amanda-Marie Quintino
Rob Ender would rather be strumming guitar strings than developing computer software.
After graduating from Ryerson’s computer engineering program in 1999, he decided computers and technology couldn’t compare to microphones and music. “I basically graduated and said to myself, ‘Alright, that was fun. Now it’s time to do something else,'” Rob says.
Rob has been working in the information technology sector on and off for the past five years. Last summer, he decided to dedicate himself whole-heartedly to his band. “I worked at a large corporation and ditched that career to continue doing this,” he says, explaining his career change.
“That was my back-up plan and I wasn’t really feeling it. Still, the money was good and it basically supported the band. I was the main investor.” But money means nothing to Rob if he can’t be doing what he likes to do. His brother, Adymm Ender, who has always dreamed of being on stage, feels the same way.
“I wanted to be a comedian. Then my brother told me I wasn’t funny and that kind of shattered my dream,” he explains. “But since I always knew that I wanted to perform, I figured out that music was going to be my next step. I wanted to do what I loved.” In 2000, Rob and Adymm created Eden Ants, providing themselves with an outlet for their musical talent. Since then, Eden Ants has made postering a priority.
From Queen Street to Kensington Market, they plaster posters all over bare lamp posts and empty bulletin boards in hopes of getting their name recognized. “(Postering) doesn’t really translate to the draw necessarily, but it does do wonders for mind share, which means having people know about the name,” Adymm says. “Although many people have never seen us perform, most people have heard of us — thanks to all the posters splattered around the city.
“When we go out postering, it’s just a very thankless and merciless kind of job,” he adds. “We never know why we’re doing it, we just know we have to….We pretty much try and litter the city with it.” And it shows. At times, even Ryerson’s campus is polluted with Eden Ants endorsements.
Although the band is still unsigned, the foursome recently received their first recording offer, which they are currently discussing. Adymm dreams of mainstream success, but he isn’t sure if he’s ready to be a label artist just quite yet. “I kind of like being the underdog,” he says. “I feel like I still have a lot to learn. Every day, every show, every song is just another stepping stone…. I’m in no real rush. I realize how far we’ve gotten and I also know how much further I want to get before I declare myself ready for the next step.” Eden Ants doesn’t want to jump into bed with the first record label that offers it, Adymm says.
The band does, however, want to spread the word and increase attendance at their shows. Alongside lead singer Adymm, is his brother Rob on guitars, drummer Ryan MacMaster, and Joe False on bass. This independent band blends a post-punk sound with indie rock jams and alternative pop beats. In October, Eden Ants was presented with the title of best indie rock artists at the 2005 Toronto Independent Music Awards Show.
heir sophomore album hole.punch.litter, released in September, is “a diverse 6-track invasion of new-rock territory that pumps the fizz back pop while retaining a palpable sense of gritty reality,” boasts the band’s official website. Yet despite the quartet’s popularity in Toronto’s indie music scene, like all independent artists, they still struggle to attract fans, no matter how many posters they put out. “It takes a lot of effort to actually draw audiences in the city,” Adymm says.
“Every time I’m putting on a show, I realize that I have to compete with television, with Blockbuster movies, with having sex and staying home — all the stuff that people usually stay home to do and the reasons that people don’t go out.” Nonetheless, Eden Ants uses witty lyricism and eccentric instrumentation to encourage audience appeal. The band’s frontmen proudly proclaim that their style and sound is rooted in their idols and interests.
“We’re huge Bob Marley fans. We’re huge David Bowie fans. We’re huge ABBA fans,” says Rob. “We like lots of different things so the music has lots of those kinds of influences. You could compare our music to Foo Fighters mixed with a little bit of No Doubt, The Clash and Pulp.” In terms of genre, Adymm describes Eden Ants’ musical flavour as “intelligent pop.” “I don’t understand those bands that can’t define themselves,” Adymm says.
“We’re not that pretentious enough to imagine that our sound is wholly innovative because it isn’t. But that’s okay. Pop is a dirty word (in the music industry) right now because of all the recent 90s boy bands and prominent women singers with breast implants. But we’re a mix of that and we’re proud of it. We just focus on writing good songs mostly, which is an art form which seems to be diminishing.”
Adymm earned a bachelor of arts from York University, with a double major in music and English. He attributes the band’s sophisticated sound to his passion for artistic expression. “I’ve had intense art education,” says Adymm, who studied with Steven McCaffery and Christian B?k, two of Canada’s most well-known poets.
“It really refined my taste and developed my ideas about the potential for art as a catalyst for social change. The band’s name is even kind of a reflection of that.” Inspired by Northrop Frye’s famous essay, The Educated Imagination, which states that the Bible is the fundamental source of learning as well as Salvador Dali’s painting Ants On a Chair Near A Boy, which depicts ants invading a surrealistic landscape, Eden Ants dedicate themselves to writing songs that will leave all of their listeners thinking.
In January, 2006, Eden Ants will begin performing at the Rivoli on a monthly basis, joining other Toronto-based independent bands in a showcase event called Pop with Brains. And as for Rob, it doesn’t look like he’ll have to make use of his computer skills any time soon. The band is ready and willing to prove themselves. “We’re the kind of ants you want at your picnic. Eden Ants is in your pants and if we’re not yet, we will be soon,” Rob says, chuckling.
“We’re not just charming, we’re also great musicians,” Adymm says. “We put on a show.”
Eden Ants play Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave.) tomorrow at 9 p.m. For more information, check out edenants.com.