After six years of traversing the country, vacillating between Calgary and Toronto, it appears Secret Broadcast frontman Matt Lightstone has finally assembled the band of his dreams.
“I’m so excited to be coming back to Calgary with an actual physical album in hand,” says the Richmond Hill native. “It’s going to be like a big homecoming show, and I’m looking forward to performing in front of my friends again. Moving back and forth between Toronto and Calgary has allowed me to pick up certain sounds, and certain people.”
Lightstone says he’s happy to report that the original bassist, John de Jesus, is back with the band and will be joined on stage by two new members: drummer Keith Heppler and guitarist Joshua Parrett.
“The fact that we’ve expanded to a four-piece is a relatively new development. It feels a lot looser and we’re having more fun than ever writing with everyone in mind. It hasn’t been easy keeping the heart and soul of the band intact. But now that we’ve got most of the original lineup back together we’re sounding good. It’s been very natural; it almost feels like nothing has really changed.”
Praised by Sir Richard Branson as “a fantastic up-and-coming band with some great music,” the alt-rock combo has kept its eye on the prize throughout its melodic metamorphosis. A veteran of Virgin Festival, CMJ, CMW, NXNE and Juno fest, Lightstone has first-hand knowledge of the impact of directly interacting with one’s audience. Treading the floorboards alongside the likes of Tokyo Police Club, Metric and Matthew Good has heightened Lightstone’s desire to push his hard-driving pop gambit into the stratosphere.
Pursuing the siren-call of success achieved with producer Laurence Currie (Sloan, Holy Fuck, Wintersleep) on 2009’s debut, Exploding Spiders, Lightstone returned to Toronto where he began to tease out the catchy tunes that would eventually coalesce into his next Secret Broadcast. Dispatched in May 2012 through eOne Music Canada, Hungry Ghost manifests itself in a whirlwind of shiny ambition and slick rebel-rock casualness. This precarious yet compelling equilibrium is achieved thanks in part to the production handiwork of Jon Drew (Fucked Up, Arkells).
“Hungry Ghost touches on the idea from eastern philosophy where spirits wander the earth because of unfulfilled longings,” Lightstone says. “There’s a cool dichotomy in having something so desolate represented in a cartoon-like fashion. We were going for an upbeat rock album that has appeal beyond the usual image-type associated with the genre. For me it’s not about looking cool, it’s about the importance of getting back to my roots. I wanted to do something that reflected the stuff I grew up listening to. The bands that touched and influenced me weren’t necessarily the ones who used 20 different instruments. It was always the guitar that really inspired me and provided a bit of an escape. I’d like to think we’re getting back to writing and presenting more guitar-based songs.”
Lightstone’s childhood memories recently came to life in an unexpected way while filming a video for the band’s electrifying single “Raygun.” It’s just another example of his uncanny ability to identify and draw forth the choicest elements from any given environment.
“That particular song is more tongue-in-cheek than people realized. They don’t understand that we’re referring to a personal ‘Raygun’ — a sort of adult security-blanket that has the power to make all your problems go away in an instant. We actually just released a video for the song that has a unique concept where we went into a daycare centre and performed ‘Raygun’ for a roomful of three-year-olds. A bunch of them cried, which was hilarious, but we eventually won them over. If I were a kid I’d think it was cool to get to have a loud band come in and play rock ’n’ roll for me. There’s only so much Raffi you can take.”