Down With Webster cofounder Patrick Gillett had his pick of options during a recent day off from his band's cross-Canada tour.
He vetoed hanging with some of his bandmates for a Steven Seagal movie marathon; ditto for a proposed gym workout, something Gillet said he avoids at all costs. He was leaning toward seeing the Winnipeg Jets play the New York Islanders in an NHL tilt, though he was unsure if even that would tickle his fancy.
Finding a few moments of peace can be difficult in Down With Webster's fast-paced world, Gillett acknowledged. The fact that he's like any other manic twenty something - driven to distraction - is made more complicated by being in a pop-rap band with five close friends.
Gillett's on-stage life presents him with much less of a quandary. When he stands alongside his mates in Down With Webster, his Toronto band of nearly a decade, Gillett has a solid idea of what he wants to achieve.
"When we started out, the energy just came from being really excited to be on stage. There was always something to prove," he said. "There is still a lot of that, but with this new album, I think we focused more on the songwriting.
"There's some more depth to the songs, so we can get away with not having to jump around like idiots for an hour and a half.
"At the same time, I don't like bands that stare at their feet all night, so we definitely try and put on a show."
The band's latest recording, Time To Win Vol. II, recently earned Gillett and his bandmates a Juno Award nomination for pop album of the year.
Gillett and bandmates Tyler Armes (bass), Dave Ferris (turntables), Cameron Hunter (rap vocals), Andrew Martino (drums) and Martin Seja (rap vocals) performed a medley of hits during last year's Juno broadcast, a performance that ignited its teen-centric fan base gathered for the Toronto telecast. That's a typical reaction at a Down With Webster concert; when the six-piece is preaching to the converted (i.e. teen girls), the results are indeed impressive.
Down With Webster, or DWW, has always done well in major markets, but Gillett has been loving its current tour, a run through secondary markets such as Wood Buffalo, Alta., and Winkler, Man. Shows in smaller cities are always memorable, he said.
"Sometimes going to places where they don't get every act coming through, fans are really excited to go. Sometimes those are some of the best shows we ever play."
In Surrey on Friday, April 27, Down With Webster performs at 9 p.m. to close that day's Party for the Planet, a two-day festival at Central City Plaza.
Gillett and his DWW bandmates dedicate themselves to maintaining a strong internet presence, with dozens of daily posts aimed directly at their sizable audience. More than 420,000 fans follow the group on Facebook, with another 49,000-plus watching their every move on Twitter. These are numbers that tell Gillett the fans like what and how the group is communicating.
"I love that we can get information out to our fans," Gillett said. "But for me, as a musician, sometimes I feel like it does become a bit of a popularity contest. I hope that kids are still going online and looking for good music, and not necessarily gimmicks."
Gillett is the first to acknowledge that Down With Webster is prone to delivering the occasional gimmick. However, he maintains the band's uproarious on-stage personality isn't an act, so it's only natural that the online presence of its members suggests a similar tone. And why mess with a successful formula? A recent Facebook post regarding Valentine's Day saw the band receive 4,600 likes mere hours after being posted.
"Don't get me wrong, our band has always tried to keep our online stuff funny. Some people would call it gimmicky, but at the end of the day, we really just want to bring people to the shows."
The issue of the band's music has been a contentious one thus far, especially to older, more mature music listeners. Down With Webster's shtick is concerned almost exclusively with girls, parties, partying with girls and leaving girls to do more partying.
It's all harmless fun, albeit lowest-commondenominator pop - not unlike that which comes from the goofball bboys in LMFAO.
A lack of credibility doesn't mean Down With Webster isn't successful. From a commercial standpoint, the group sells a heck of a lot more downloads than plenty of Canadian acts with far more visibility. Gillett is extremely proud of that accomplishment, and sees only brighter things in the future for Down With Webster.
"We still have so much more to explore in terms of what we can get out of each other.
We're still learning new things every day."
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