Completely off the Fourthwall

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Forget Canadian Idol, Ryerson just might be home to the next Canadian rock sensation. The Eyeopener’s music maiden Jessica Ford tunes in to tell us why.

In a bar ripe with Canadiana, Fourthwall, a band born in the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area, prepare to rock out with its distinct combination of gritty Canuck rock and intricate harmonies.

Fourthwall is the first band on the bill this Saturday night. The four guys look confident and relaxed when they take the stage. They have played at Reilly’s on Yonge Street three times before. The bar doesn’t fit in among the modern downtown scene of martinis and stilettos. The décor seems better fit for a local watering hole in cottage country. The small crowd sits on white deck chairs and cracked brown leather stools. An eclectic mix of memorabilia hangs on the walls. When the house lights go down for Fourthwall, the room is illuminated by votive candles and a fluorescent Heineken sign.

Mike Farrell, a fourth-year RTA student at Ryerson, stands centre stage with Mark ‘Slick’ Scarmato on his right, Dan Gallo on his left and Adam Burns behind. The set is six songs long, mixing tunes from the album and songs written since they finished recording.

In one of the new songs, “Fire Supply,” Farrell and Scarmato play repetitive guitar licks back and forth, building anticipation until the climax of the song when they sing out: “When I’m looking for some fire, baby she is my supplier.” Farrell crouches down and pounds his foot on the ground to the beat of the music. He stands back up, shaking his head in the air during his guitar solos.

Gallo taps his foot subtly as he plays the smooth bass line while Burns provides the driving drum beat in the background. But what stands out above everything else is their difficult three-part vocal harmonies, ringing out with beautiful clarity. The crowd is thin but that doesn’t stop them from playing like they’re at the Air Canada Centre.

Fourthwall formed three years ago with five members in Richmond Hill. After realizing the original lead singer was only bringing it down, the band shifted to the lineup it has today. This taught them a lot about band dynamics.

“It’s so important to be friends when you’re in a band,” says Farrell. “If you don’t like the person you’re playing music with, you could be writing the greatest song in the world but it’s not going to last.”

The band now consists of lead singer and guitarist Farrell, singer and guitarist Scarmato, singer and bassist Gallo, and Burns on drums.

Fourthwall’s music is bluesy rock at its core but is also quite melodic.

“I think what’s really important about our band is that our songs are catchy, fun to listen to and you can rock out to them, but there are a lot of subtleties too that someone who is musically-intelligent would recognize.”

The band had some success in battle-of-the-bands style contests, winning two, and coming third out of fifty in the Paragon 5k. They have worked hard to get themselves attention with steady performing, a radio appearance, and a television appearance on Rogers TV.

Fourthwall cites bands like Oasis and The Beatles as its influences, but put a particular emphasis on being a ‘Made-in-Canada’ band like Sam Roberts.

“You can really see what he did with Canadian music and that’s the ultimate goal because it rings true to home,” says Burns. “It’s within our grasp which is awesome. That’s why we really look up to him.”

The band raves about the Canadian music scene and says that popular Canadian acts make Fourthwall look good just by being categorized among them.

“There are some artists who try to hide they are from Canada,” says Farrell. “It’s not like we’re trying to be patriotic about it, but you just have to respect that we’re Canadian.”

Fourthwall just released a new self-titled EP after being approached by recording company DC Music in summer 2006.

“To have your own record is so cool. I remember going to pick them up on the first day and I went to go meet this guy on a street corner. He had a bunch of boxes in his red station wagon. I opened it up and there was our CD,” says Farrell. “It’s a great feeling to produce something that’s actually professional…We’ll have that CD forever.”

Fourthwall is celebrating the release of its EP at 9 p.m. tomorrow at the Horseshoe Tavern.

The band’s members are expecting it to be the biggest gig of their lives with a crowd of hundreds.

“Playing for a packed house at the Horseshoe Tavern, how could you have a bad time?” asks Burns.

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