Welcome to our website's newest feature, Off the Clock Presents. This bimonthly feature will feature the extracurricular activities of CAMH staff members when they are “off the clock.”
For our inaugural piece, Off the Clock presents David Lucas, MSW, Social Worker in CAMH’s Drug Treatment Program who also moonlights as a bass guitarist for the Toronto-based band, Huddle. He plays alongside Clay Jones, guitar; Teddy Wilson, drummer; Mark Satterthwaite, singer.
CAMH Public Affairs recently caught up with David to get the low down on what it’s like to be rock star by night.
First things first: when did you realize you wanted to be a rock star?
David: Probably when I started air-guitaring in front of the mirror to my dad’s Zeppelin records. But without a doubt the dream was kick-started when my very cool grandmother, who used to pick me up from school in a Camaro, bought me my first guitar for Christmas. I think I was thirteen.
How did the Huddle come to be?
David: The band and the name have existed for awhile, but somewhat informally. Mark (singer), Clay (guitarist), and Nick (former keyboardist) had recorded a lot of songs, but I don’t think they’d ever played them live. They brought me and Teddy (drummer) on board two or three years ago to get the live thing going. Still not quite sure where the name comes from though.
|David Lucas plays bass guitar.|
How did you come to join the group?
David: It was a friend-of-a-friend type thing. I was a music nerd, new to Toronto, and I was looking to join a band. A good friend of mine, who grew up w/ Mark, Clay and Nick, hooked me up. Right place, right time.
I’ve heard that the dynamic between band mates, especially those who’ve been playing together for awhile, is neither corporate nor particularly friendly but a deep connection nonetheless. How would you describe the relationships in your band?
David: Our practices are a lot of fun, and they’re only getting easier and more fun with each passing week. It’s a very opinionated group (not just musically) but luckily we’re laughing far more than we’re disagreeing, so it works out. I think a sign of this would be that we’re all really looking forward to touring together. We’ve got a mini-tour around Ontario slated for December - just to get out of the city, but I think the dream for us would be to do at least a few months of touring next year.
How would you describe the mood and sound of the songs?
David: Our songs vary quite a bit, but it’s hard to say why that is. The only goal we really seem to have when writing is that the song is accessible, but also a bit unpredictable - either lyrically or musically, or maybe just in the arrangement. We like some songs to be dreamy and synthy and some songs to have huge drums and angry guitar. Somehow it all seems consistent to us. These days it’s hard to know where indie rock and pop music starts and ends, and I think that’s fine.
|Music Composer and guitarist Clay Jones and singer/songwriter Mark Satterthwaite.|
A lot of Indie bands despise the idea of pop songs yet you have no worry to put the words Indie and pop music in the same sentence. Why?
David: The idea of our music being popular doesn’t bother us. We’re fine with relating to people we’ve never met.
What’s the writing process like for songs? Do you do it together, separately or does it evolve from jams?
David: Clay is a fountain of ideas and we write a lot of songs that originate with his guitar parts or keyboard lines and usually the vocals and lyrics are written afterwards by Mark, our singer. By the time the songs are played live or recorded, everyone has had a chance to put their stamp on it. I think that this type of collaboration can lead to power struggles, but we seem to have figured out a formula that works for us.
You’re also a Social Worker at CAMH. How do you balance your time between work and practice and performing at shows?
David: Balancing the time hasn’t been that difficult. The reward I get from being in a band is so great that it never feels like a burden. Sometimes we play three times a month and some months, just once, but we practice twice a week.
I’ve never once thought I can’t do both things - I’ve only ever thought that I’d hate to do one without the other.
|Huddle (l-r): David Lucas, bass guitar; Clay Jones, guitarist; Mark Satterthwaite, singer; and Teddy Wilson on drums.|
There’s a lot of substance use in the music and bar scenes. Given your professional background, do you ever think about these issues as you look upon your audience?
David: When I talk to my clients about the importance of finding enjoyment in their lives, I think about what I enjoy …and one thing is live music …but unfortunately this is often found in bars. This can obviously be a very triggering atmosphere for some of my clients in the Drug Treatment Court program. So ya, I do think about it and I have to be careful about what I recommend.
You recently put out a new album: All These Fires. How long did it take to produce?
David: The album was actually recorded and produced in two very different sessions with different engineers and producers. Listening to the album though, I don’t think you can really tell the difference, which is great. Initially we recorded enough music to make an EP (five-to-six songs) but decided it made more sense to make a full album. It took us about a year.
What did it feel like the day your record went on iTunes?
David: The day before it was to be released, felt like Christmas Eve. I couldn’t sleep! The next day, I kept checking the alternative charts on iTunes, and watched as we slowly climbed up by the hour. Clearly our moms, dads, friends and girlfriends were doing their part to get our numbers up. Our achievements so far have felt great, but they’re admittedly modest. I still often wonder what it would be like to be in a really successful or well-known band - the type that other bands look to for inspiration. It must feel amazing. I can’t even imagine.
The video for Islands has a very unique aesthetic. How did the idea for it come about?
David: The aesthetic comes entirely from the animator Drue Langlois, who’s connected to the Royal Art Lodge, a really great art collective from Winnipeg. They’ve done artwork for other Canadian bands like the Weakerthans but they’re also world renowned for their individual talents. So the backstory - our singer Mark writes for television and animated kids’ series. Awhile back, I sent him a funny and bizarre animated YouTube show (called Apollo Gauntlet) done by Myles Langlois. Mark contacted him to see if he’d be interested in doing a video for us and he put us in touch with his brother Drue. Mark sent him the song, Drue ran with it, and made an entire storyboard almost immediately. It blew us away. So far the video’s been very well received. A couple weeks back, it was the MTV Pick of the Week and has since been played on MuchMusic.
|Huddle’s Album, “All These Fire” debuted on iTunes on September 29, 2011.|
What’s your favourite track on the album?
My favourite track is probably Dark Times
because I feel like it showcases what our singer and guitar player do best. The lyrics are personal yet relatable, and the arrangement is complicated but comes off as straight-forward.
When I see musicians that I don’t know on the stage, I imagine what they’re like depending on what kind of persona they present. What do you want people to know about you?
David: I’d like them to know that I’m a pretty decent dancer and that I write a killer extended essay. I’m also really good at ordering food – I always find the best thing on the menu.
Has the Canadian music scene, both from the business and consumer side, been good to you?
David: So far it’s been good; we’ve had some good support already. The only difficulty we’ve had is the same as most bands and that’s that nobody really buys music anymore. People either get it for free from the internet or, at best, they support bands by going to their live shows. So to make any money back, you have to tour.
How in touch are you guys with your fans?
Given that most of our fans are our friends and family, we’re pretty tight (smiles). The fans that we haven’t met, we are very grateful to have. Our Facebook
page is where we post most of our news and where we receive feedback from our fans, which is always great to see. Our drummer Teddy is a TV host on the Space Network so we get some of his crossover fans too! He really is one of the most talented and charismatic people I’ve met.
|Huddle Drummer Teddy Wilson.|
Most shows and musicians rarely start on time. You’ve joked that you’re rock’n roll’s most punctual band. How do you manage that?
David: No idea. Maybe we just wanna stay in people’s good graces – girlfriends, wives, booking agents. We stay organized to stay outta trouble.
What goals do you and your band mates have for Huddle?
David: Pretty simple – to be able to one day write and record music without having to pay out of pocket for it.
What’s your favourite album? And which band, defunct or current, would you love to play with?
David: Well to bring things full circle, my favourite album of all time is Led Zepellin II. It’s the album that made me think of the individual instrument and what they were doing with them. Who would I love to play with? That’s tough. I love rap music so maybe playing bass for rap group would cover off all my rockstar dreams.