By David George-Cosh
“What you see is what you get.” Even the most naive music critic would have a hard time believing it from a musician.
Yet, in the case of Tenth Planet bassist Nic Vurro, the phrase is spoken so honestly and matter-of-factly that, well, you can’t help but believe him.
It’s that sincerity that Vurro and his fellow band mates, guitarist Brian Paul, vocalist Martin Ouellette and drummer Glenn Neath, hope people notice Tenth Planet as not just another hard rock band trying to make it in Toronto.
“I think there’s a lot of hard rock bands in Canada that are following a lot of mainstream rock that’s occurring in the States,” Neath says. “We’re not doing what everyone else is doing.” Neath, a former Ryerson student, was forced to quit the graphic design program due to cash problems.
Now he places emphasis on other endeavours, including making music that stands apart. Tenth Planet’s sound, simply put, can easily be defined as hard rock. If you like your guitars fuzzy, your drums pounded with abandon and your vocals edgy but not generic-Canadian-hard-rock-band-puke-inducing edgy, you’ll probably like Tenth Planet. Even if that “hard rock” label stigmatizes the band, Vurro feels that Tenth Planet is accessible even to the harshest critic.
“I like to think we have a song for everybody,” he says. “I think all kinds of people could come, no matter what music you’re into, and hear one song out of the 10 or 11 songs we play in a night and come out liking that one song.
“We don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves into sounding like one band or style. We definitely like to challenge ourselves, and I think people appreciate that and see that.” Adds Neath: “I like the fact that we combine heavy music with melodic choruses. I think we encompass a lot of styles like Alice in Chains and U2.”
The band is currently touring in support of their new EP, The Prophet Curse, which was produced in part by the Tea Party’s Jeff Martin. “(Martin) has a really great imagination on what direction a certain song should take,” Vurro says. “It was really neat to watch the guy work. Sometimes you weren’t sure on where he was heading with something, like a small effect, but by the end of the day you realize that, ‘Wow, this guy is really a musical genius.'”
After completing the EP, the band decided to release the songs on their website for free in hopes of garnering some tech-savvy fans. Vurro feels the band has to go that extra mile to get its name out there. “The internet is the way to go now, right? It makes it easy for people to access your music, especially when you are an unsigned band and you’re trying to get people to listen to us,” Vurro says.
“We’re not too worried about making money at this point as we’re trying to get people to know who we are and come out to our shows.”