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Got a musical emergency? Paramedics are on the scene

By Samantha Everts on January 19, 2011

Photo courtesy Paramedics' Myspace page.

In the second installment of what’s promising to be a music-heavy week here at Apt613 (seriously – we just chatted with Brooklynites Hooray for Earth, and we’ve got interviews with Parlovr and Braids in the pipeline), Samantha Everts talks shop with Paramedics’ Jordan Allen. The band’s launching their new EP III this weekend at Babylon and we want to send you to it – so read on for details!

“I don’t think we’re purposely making ourselves difficult to work with,” says Jordan Allen, the vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist of local band Paramedics. “But I don’t think a lot of bands in Ottawa right now are willing to branch out into experimental music.” Allen and bandmate Jamie Kronick launched Paramedics in 2007, when the two were roommates, and they’ve slowly been developing their sound with fellow friends in the music scene, including Allan Gauthier of The Love Machine and Luke Duross of Crush Buildings.  “Our sound is very much influenced by bands like Sigur Ros,”Allen says. “Some people say our sound is depressing, but it’s only bad if you’re not open to hearing the darker side of music.”

And speaking of that darker side: with its multi-instrumental sound and electronic layering, Paramedics’ new EP III could easily draw comparisons to industrial post-hardcore king Trent Reznor, Radiohead, or Godspeed You! Black Emperor! Recorded over several weeks, with the help of Jonathan Chandler (Amos the Transparent), the EP is the band’s great hope for launching themselves into Toronto and Montreal’s indie scene.  “We’re pretty set on doing it for real now,”  says Allen, adding that the band tries to maintain a pop sensibility within the “scattered” song structures. “We still rely a lot on melodies [even if] we replace a guitar line with strange samples,” he says. The band’s signature sound can be heard in the song “Lifeguards Association,” which expertly melds crashing, post-rock guitars with a light lyrical melody.  Other songs, like the thrilling opener “On Fire/Not On Fire,” show off the band’s emotional intensity, while playing with the listeners’ expectations and constantly surprising them.  “We’re perfectionists,” says Allen. “The album took four years because we were experimenting and trying to find our feet.  We’ll always have songs and material.”

The EP has a theatrical quality, one that could easily complement an atmospheric film or TV drama. Allen says it hasn’t been easy translating the multiple sonic layers to a live setting, especially since the band’s collectively ruled out using laptops on stage. The reason? Pair up intense performances with the possibility of “beer flying” and the results could be disastrous, says Allen: “It gets too dangerous.”

You can catch Paramedics alongside The Love Machine and Toronto’s The Paint Movement this Saturday, Jan. 22, at Babylon. And the first person to send us an email to editors@apt613.ca with the subject line “Paramedics” gets two free tickets, plus a copy of the EP.


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