Stella Ella Ola make the kind of music that embodies good times, friends, and sunshine. Picture rollerblading down a boardwalk, flippin’ burgers, hanging out in someone’s basement eating popsicles while reflecting on yearbook memories. It’s a simple joy that they’ve captured, and in such a short time since forming and in songs that are purposefully bite sized, they’ve tapped into some charm that’ll make this city even more fun. The four pals – Jake and Nixon Boyd (also of Hollerado), Anne Douris and Vince Rice – have only played one show at this point as Stella Ella Ola, but they’re ready to take this year’s NXNE by storm.
Here the band fills out our questionnaire, where we learn about the BBQ musical they’re plotting, that they really like pizza, and about their favourite Muppets.
Catch them at Velvet Underground on Thursday, June 14 @ 9PM.
DS: When and how did the band start?
This past New Year’s Eve, the four of us were sitting around a kitchen table at a party and decided it would be our collective resolution to make a cool band that only played songs under 2 minutes and 43 seconds. So far, we’ve all stuck to it! As for the other resolutions… drinking less beer… eating less pizza… not so.
DS: Can you explain the story behind your EP and the process of making it?
We posted a photo of our first practice and Graham Wright (Tokyo Police Club) saw it online and “dibbed” manager position. But we know he’s pretty busy attending Star Wars conventions when he’s not making music, so it seemed like a better fit to have him produce an EP for us. A few nights in the studio, a few bottles of whiskey later and voila!
DS: How have you developed your sound? How would you classify it?
We really want to keep things raw and authentic. For our EP, that meant recording live-off-the-floor. Each song kind of took on a sound of its own. Vince’s “Proud Mother Stomp” started out as a dirty punk song, and ended up a country stomp. Jake’s “New Year Song” is sweet 90’s pop, while Black Rope and Peter Sellers are a lot more retro. But all the songs are lo-fi, all the songs are short, and they’re all sing alongs.
DS: What’s the charm of short songs?
It’s a bit tricky to make them, but the pay-off is great. You have to prune and parse to make the song logical and precise with no straggly parts. And wouldn’t you rather parse than do anything?
DS: What’s it like being a musician in Toronto? And being in multiple projects?
Being a musician anywhere is great! Being in any project is fun, as long as you’re doing it with people that you love! (And getting to work on material for two bands is like having a slice of pizza AND a soda instead of just one or the other – the taste of one makes you appreciate the taste of the other even more.)
DS: Where do you like to play in Toronto?
Absolutely anywhere! Toronto is lucky to have fantastic venues for live music, from great small venues like The Silver Dollar, to bigger places like The Phoenix. To name a few of our other favourite Toronto venues: The Horseshoe Tavern, Cinecycle, The Opera House, Lee’s Palace… There are just so many great places to play and to see bands!
DS: You’ve only played one show as this band so far, right? How did it go, and what are you looking forward to as a live band together? What can people expect at NXNE?
It was a total blast. Dangerband and Graham Wright are rad musicians, and the people they bring out to their shows are super fun and enthusiastic about good time-y music. Our friends Raina Douris (Rain’s World) & Dean Baxter (Hollerado) DJ’d the crap out of it too. When they started off the night with the Mario Kart soundtrack, we all got pretty psyched. And our good friends in Topanga made it all work by taking on tasks such as bartender, sound guy and door gorilla. Coming up, we hope for more of the same. Playing our tunes surrounded by music/party-loving friends, all sweaty and dancing and clapping and all of that.
DS: What other local acts do you like?
We’re huge fans of many local bands, but if we had to keep it short, we’d stick with Topanga and Tokyo Police Club.
DS: What’s on your Dork Shelf (movies, books, music, games)?
Favourite question. Each of us is our own dork breed, so let’s do it this way:
Jake (Music): The Replacements, R.E.M., Modest Mouse, a new band from Halifax called Cousins… Are you calling me a Music Dork? Because if so, you hit the nail on the head!
Nick (Books): 100 Years of Solitude, biographies
Anne (Video games): Mario Kart 64, Zelda (Ocarina of Time), Day of the Tentacle, Treasure Cove… to name a few.
Vince (Movies): The Night Stalker; Wasp Woman; anything from Werner Herzog
DS: What’s next for Stella Ella Ola?
We’ve been writing a lot and have been in the studio recording some new tracks for some more releases this summer. Think “BBQ: The Musical.” And we’ve got more shows in Toronto and Ottawa, but are looking to line up more around Ontario.
DS: What else should we know about Stella Ella Ola?
Vince’s favourite drummer is probably Bun E. Carlos (of Cheap Trick). That dude knows how to rock a bowtie. Nick was really good at snowboarding in High School. Anne came up with the name “Stella Ella Ola” – also, she does all of our visual artwork. Jake’s only been playing bass for about six months, but he’s already perfected the “teeter on the amp” rock pose.
DS: Can you say your band name five times fast?
We were originally going to call ourselves Stellaellaolastellaellaolastellaellaolastellaellaolastellaellaola, but it was taken.
DS: You say you’re admirers of the Muppets. Who are your favourites?
You can’t go wrong with the classics: Gonzo, Swedish Chef, the singing cabbages, and even though he’s a newbie, Pepe the Prawn. And even though they’re on Sesame Street, the Yip Yips. And then these guys.