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Paint mixes more than just colour

photo courtesy Marcus Warren

PAINT IS A band that, despite the brevity of their name, is not readily defined in a single word. Sonically, the indie-rock quintet features elements of the mid-1990s Brit-pop movement, but trades the shoegaze phase for energetic live performances and challenges the “sound wall” that originated from the period.

“We’re not your typical rock and roll band,” says Robb Johannes, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, in an interview with the Fulcrum.

Originally formed by Johannes in Vancouver during 2008, the band relocated to Toronto one year later, and is now rounded out by Mandy Dunbar on guitar and vocals, Marcus Warren on bass, and Andre Dey on drums.

The band’s name was inspired by the early Brit-pop movement, where band names were made up of a single word—Blur, Oasis, and Pulp. The band’s first rehearsal space was also under renovations at the time, meaning they would leave smelling, unsurprisingly, of paint.

According to Johannes, Paint’s energetic sound is “the product of being from Vancouver. People go to bars, but don’t pay attention to the band.”

Born of necessity, Paint’s sound is heavy on guitar with soaring melodies, backed by expressive and story-driven lyrics that break the barriers of unfamiliarity between artist and audience.

A member of various bands since the age of 14, Johannes also spent many years rallying for different causes as a social activist in Vancouver. Transitioning from activism to music was not challenging for the front man.

“You never really turn that energy off. Instead, it’s a matter of channeling it into a different form of communicating,” he explains. “Music for me has always been a form of release, of empowerment.”

The band’s newest album, Where We Are Today, was created over the course of a year and a half and stage tested, adding a level of cohesiveness that portrays Paint’s youth as a band.

“I tend to write all the lyrics, but musically, it’s the four of us,” says Johannes, when asked about the process of writing and composing songs for the band’s latest record.

The recording of their latest CD went relatively smoothly. Ian Smith, who helped craft the band’s unique sound, produced the 10 tracks featured on the album.

“[He] created this environment that was so friendly and so comfortable that we didn’t need to have a lot of conversations about what we wanted to achieve with the record, and instead just focused on how we could get there technically,” says Johannes. “I can’t say I’ve [previously] had an experience like that.”

The result of this easygoing relationship between band members and producer is evident—just listen to the record.

“We’re very proud of the album. It just captured our energy so well,” remarks Johannes.

Paint’s most recent album, Where We Are Today, is available at The band plays in Ottawa on Sept. 23 at Zaphod Bebblebrox with Arms of the Girl and The Aesthetics. Tickets are $6. 

—Jessie Willms