Exclusive Interview With Bella Clava From Canada

Two Quarters of Bella Clava

Two Quarters of Bella Clava

The bands taking part in Indie Week Ireland 2009 are getting ready to go on stage at the Cruiscín Lán in Cork tonight. It’s the first of four gigs that will also take in Galway and Dublin before finishing up at Dolan’s in Limerick this Saturday, July 4th. I’ve just conducted an online interview with Caitlin, the lead singer with Bella Clava from Canada (Caitlin is on the left in the photo above with Steve on her right, just before he trimmed his ‘tache). Here’s what Caitlin had to say:

Well, Caitlin, with a name like that, the first question I have to ask is: Do you have any Irish in you?

Why yes, I do! My last name, Dacey, is from Cork and my family is very proud to be of Irish background…even when it isn’t St. Patrick’s Day (when everyone in North America claims to be Irish).

Can you tell me a little bit about the band’s origins? How long have you been together and what kind of impact have you made on the Canadian music scene?

The four of us are all from Thunder Bay, a great community of musicians who love to “jam” and play as often as possible. We have all known and played with each other in different capacities/different bands for years, but have been based out of Toronto as Bella Clava for a year and a half. Our most relevant contribution to the Canadian music scene is getting people up and shaking their hips…which is critical when trying to keep warm in the bitter Northern climate. We are a hyperactive band, in the sense that we play as often as possible and we were part of “Canadian Music Week 2009”, a festival for both Canadian and international musicians. We placed second to Walter Mitty and the Realists, of Limerick at Toronto Indie Week. We’re thrilled to be playing Indie Week Ireland as a result of this.

Do you share musical (and other cultural interests) with Steve, Luis and Dane or do the four of you differ in your tastes? Do these similarities or differences have any bearing on the band’s songwriting and style of music?

The common thread that keeps us together is our love of music, although we do get into pretty heated debates over who has better taste…or even valid taste, for that matter. We all have very different influences, which allows us to be unique. We do not want to be a cover band, or a band that might as well be a tribute band….there are a lot of acts like this in Canada and although it is flattering to be compared to bands we respect, we don’t want to rip anybody off. If we wanted to rob people, we would use our Bella Clavas for convenience store stick-ups, not songwriting.

Well, I dare say there’s a lot more money in songwriting than in the Irish retail trade at the moment. You’re about to embark on a four-date Irish tour as part of Indie Week Ireland 2009. Is this your band’s first trip to the Emerald Isle? What kind of reception are you expecting from Irish audiences?

This is Luis, Dane and Steve’s first trip to Europe, and my second to Ireland. I spent Christmas in Dublin three years ago, and was told repeatedly to come back in the summer time…little did I know that I would be touring the country! I had a great time then with the Irish and we are all having a blast with the friendly people and bands we are meeting. We expect that the Irish are going to party like animals, dance like Riverdance on Guinness and continue to be the best looking people on the planet.

So, you’ve met Damien from Vesta Varro, then! Bella Clava’s live reviews suggest that your shows have a lot of energy as well as some of the best elements of dirty rock ‘n’ roll. What can Irish audiences expect from Bella Clava?

You can expect Bella Clava to work for their fish N chips, if you know what I mean. We caused the spread of RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) throughout Toronto….and are hoping to infect the Irish with this dirty booty quakin’ disease. Luis has to change shirts after every set, Steve has to trim his mustache before and after the show, Dane has been known to stomp holes in the stage with his bass grooves and I’ve given myself whiplash from too much head banging.

You certainly seem to be worth going to see in a live context. Has the band released any singles or albums or do you have any in the pipeline?

We brought our brand new, very first album with us, ColdSpell and plan to spread it like the flu throughout Ireland. We will then be bringing it back over to Canada, but we wanted to get it out to Irish ears first. The album will be available online (bellaclava.ca and iTunes) in HMV and Chapters/Indigo. We are thrilled to be heading to Chicago in the fall to record our second album with Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, PJ Harvey, The Stooges).

Best of luck with the second album, Caitlin, although you should be safe with Mr Albini. You play your last leg of Indie Week at Dolan’s, Limerick, this Saturday. You’ve been hanging out with a couple of Limerick bands, Vesta Varro and Walter Mitty & the Realists. Have they been filling you in on what to expect when you make it down here on Saturday?

Shane from Vesta Varro has already taken part in some of our music debates (over a few pints, of course) and the bands are helping us out by sharing their equipment and helping to lug ours. If the bands and music enthusiasts in Limerick are anything like Vesta Varro and Walter Mitty, then it must be the greatest place in the world to play! We love people who love to have a good time, and we look forward to meeting many more people with great senses of humour…and excellent taste in music!!

You’ll certainly find a few of those in Limerick. Finally, Bella Clava have a series of gigs in Canada the weekend after your Irish stint. Will the four of you be able to get to travel around this beautiful and rainy island before you go back?

Absolutely! We are renting a van (we learned that you call these “people carriers”) and will be seeing as many sights, meeting as many people and tasting as much beer as possible before we leave. It’s a short visit, but we’re taking in as much of the Irish culture as possible with hope that some of its richness will infuse our future shows. We are already talking about our next tour of Ireland….we don’t like one night stands with a city, we like lasting relationships, even if they’re long distance.

Well, here’s hoping that Cork, Galway, Dublin and, naturally, Limerick will take Bella Clava to their hearts. My thanks to Caitlin for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope that Bella Clava enjoy their trip around Ireland. I’m looking forward to seeing them along with all the other bands at this Saturday’s Indie Week gig at Dolan’s. Perhaps we’ll engage in some musical discussions over a pint of Guinness? Hope to see you there as well!

Indie Week Ireland 2009

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The third annual instalment of Indie Week Ireland is taking place this week in four Irish cities. It begins tonight, July 1st, at An Cruiscín Lán, Cork, before moving up to the Roisín Dubh, Galway, tomorrow (July 2nd). The next day it’s on to Whelan’s, Dublin, on Friday the 3rd before finishing up at Dolan’s, Limerick, on July the 4th. Each gig features a performance from New York’s Paper Dolls, Bella Clava from Canada, and two of Limerick’s finest, Vesta Varro and Walter Mitty & the Realists. In addition, the Dublin and Limerick legs will see a number of Irish acts competing to represent Ireland at Indie Week Canada in October of this year. The winning act will have a lot to live up to as Vesta Varro, Irish victors in 2007, and Walter Mitty & the Realists, who won the Irish leg last year, won the whole kit and kaboodle at Indie Week Toronto in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The bands competing for a place in Galway are Pinky, Sweet Jane, Sixteen Layers and The Kinetiks. The four Limerick hopefuls are Meet n Greet, Saccade, Cutaways and Cowboy X. Doors open at 7.45pm on each of the first three nights, but at the earlier time of 7.00pm on the final day in Limerick. The music will begin at each venue just over half an hour after the doors open. Check local listings or with your venue beforehand. The price of the tickets, particularly for the Dublin and Limerick legs, represents extremely good value at just €10 per ticket. It’s only €8 if you can get your hands on a flyer. I really enjoyed the last two Indie Weeks in Ireland and I’m looking forward to the Limerick leg on Saturday. My advice is to get into Dolan’s early as it was pretty packed last year