Paint Where We Are Today interview with Robb Johannes by Lauren Baron of the Brant News, Brantford Ontatio

Music with energy, inspired by activism

by Lauren Baron
March 27, 2012

While many bands are taking to Facebook and Twitter to promote their music, Toronto indie-rock band Paint likes to keep things classic.

"The internet is so over-saturated with bands right now that you almost have to be a live band and that's what's great for us," said Paint vocalist Robb Johannes.

"If you look back at the Beatles and into the '80s with bands like REM, when the industry was changing, those bands got out on the road and built a community with the audience and that's one thing that never changed."

Paint hit the road this week on a cross-Canada tour that will take the band to Brantford's Liquid Lounge for a free 19-plus show on April 1 at 7 p.m. The band will play alongside London-based folk singer Katlina Cowan.

"We pride ourselves on being a live act," Johannes said. "Live and studio are very different things and the true test of a band is if they can pull it off live and give you something interesting every time you see them. "We put a lot of energy into our live show. We have high energy and the audience becomes part of the experience."

The band, which also includes guitarist Nathan Da Silva, bassist Nik Odermatt and drummer Andre Dey, will perform songs from its recently released album, Where We Are Today. The album is a departure from Paint's previous album, Can You Hear Me?

"Can You Hear Me? was a little more of a rock album, based on that late '80s, early '90s English wall-of-sound," Johannes said. "The new record is more of a pop record. We have refined the sound and that's allowing for more dynamic space. There are quieter songs and there are louder bits."

While most of the band's album is more personal than political, Johannes said he prides himself on being an advocate for many causes. While living in Vancouver, he worked with advocacy groups around the issues of drug use and homelessness and helped rehabilitate prisoners coming out of incarceration.

Recently, the band took on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford over anti-postering laws and won.

"We've become a bit of a resource for other acts in town if they run into these situations," Johannes said. "To me, that lifestyle of awareness and community support is second nature and it's part of who I am and I think music and art in general are outlets for awareness."

Johannes said he believes musicians are meant to be more than simply entertainers.

"We live in an age now where we are being forced to believe (art) is just entertainment," he said. "But if you look historically, art was a place where people would learn about culture and it was social commentary and social criticism. For us as musicians, it's important to keep that alive."

The original text of this article can be found at Brant News.