“It was all getting to be a bit much.”
This, from Nate Daniels, lead singer/songwriter for Tom Boy. He’s referring to the turbulent past of his last project CAIRO with current collaborator Dante Berardi Jr. CAIRO was making their mark in the Toronto music scene between 2014-2016 after they placed in the top three at Toronto’s Indie Week contest. They were soon signed to Maple Music (now Cadence) and toured across Canada and Europe with packed shows at Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival and Brighton’s Great Escape Festival – much in thanks to a single that became popular after it was placed on MTV’s “Catfish”. But the constant touring and tight quarters took their toll on the hard working group.
“A relationship started to develop in the band while we were in England. It also happened to be an affair,” says Daniels. The band toured across Canada knowing that they’d all have to face the consequences of keeping the affair secret from all ignorant parties when they got home. “It was a literal nightmare,” says Berardi who almost left the tour.
Daniels and Berardi knew that the damage was done and while they tried to mend fences and continue to ride the momentum that they had built, it was clear that not all members were ready to let the betrayal go. “At a certain point I think the words ‘dead weight’ were used and that was the beginning of the end,” Daniels reflects.
The breaking point came when Daniels, who happens to be gay, decided that some of the keep-it-in-the-closet rhetoric from one of the the band members was making for a very flaccid creative environment. “We can’t go too gay,” Daniels remembers hearing. “I know that it wasn’t malicious. I’d hear, ‘maybe it’s better if we represent more universal issues.’ But what’s more universal than personal persecution?”
Daniels and Dante were not ready to quit, however. They joined forces with producer Crispin Day (July Talk, Shad) and together they wrote songs that mirrored their train-wreck past – drugs, mental illness, booze, affairs, and all.
What came out is a sonic-assault on the senses. A smack-talking narrative of repressed anger, hurt, and betrayal. A cathartic juxtaposition of laser-focused lyricism, washed-out guitars, and rampaging synths that place you in the center of Tom Boys’ perfect storm. All of this is contrasted by Daniels sometimes soft, faltering vocals that eventually burst into the powerful range he is known for. To hear it is to be reminded of the cheeky irreverence of The Killers, the addictive drone of Børns, and the emotional pull of Broods.
In the words of front-man Nate Daniels, “we can’t continue to live the lie that our lives are perfect and shiny, fit for role model status. Our careers reflect the choices we have made and it’s about time our songs reflected that as well.”
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