Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: NXNE Interview with Toronto Folk-Rock Band, The Maladies of Adam Stokes

The band talks about their changing sound, the Toronto music landscape, and Arrested Development

By: Emma Mazerall

Published: June 25th, 2014 in Culture » Music » News

The Maladies of Adam Stokes are a six-piece group from Toronto who’ve attracted a passionate local following with their unique approach to the folk-rock genre. Their debut album, City of Trees, was released in 2012 and showcases the thoughtful lyricism and emotionally charged musicianship that continues to define the band.

Featured as a NXNE Spotlight artist this year, and evolving their sound on the heels of an upcoming single release, the band seems poised to win over a larger audience of indie music fans.

ShalomLife sat down with Mikey Hill (guitar, vocals), Josh Awerbuck (guitar), Kohji Nagata (brass, guitar), Brett Harris (bass), Ted Turner (drums), and Emily Anderson (piano) before their NXNE performance on Friday.

Upon arriving at their busy show at Tranzac, I asked a helpful staff member where I could find The Maladies of Adam Stokes. She disappeared for a minute, and told me he was waiting out back for me. He? I was expecting a full band. Outside the venue, a friendly man named Adam seemed very excited about this unexpected interview. I hated to disappoint him. Eventually, I do find The Maladies of Adam Stokes, and none of them are named Adam.

Emma Mazerall: How did everyone meet? This is a pretty big group of people.

The Maladies of Adam Stokes: Mikey and I were in a band previously, with more of a post-hardcore sound, and we’d messed around in practice writing songs that didn’t really fit the genre. So, we decided to form another band. Well, really, we just decided to write some songs, and then the band came together.

Ted actually used to record the demos for that band, so we knew he had good musical sense. We just knew we wanted him to play in the band somehow. Brett is my cousin, I’ve known Josh since grade school, and Emily and Mikey were friends in university.

So you all go way back.

Yeah, it just made sense for us to be playing together. The idea originally was that we’re all friends and we all kind of understand music, so we should play music together. But we had no idea what anyone was going to do at the time. We just tried to fit people in. Like, “Okay, now you play this instrument!”

Ted basically learned the drums for the band, Brett learned the bass for the band, and Emily had to relearn her instruments for the band because she hadn’t played them in many years.

That’s a big departure, going from post-hardcore to…well, how do you classify your sound right now?

I’d say we’re in transition. Leading up to where we’re at now, people identified us as being folk-rock. I think the NXNE description of us was “grab your plaid and bring your feelings.” I don’t think we qualify as that anymore! Initially, this band was just about having a lot of fun, and it’s still about that, but it’s a little more serious now. It’s still got the folk-rock vibe, but it’s more focused. And none of us are wearing plaid.

Speaking of NXNE, I know you played the festival last year, so how do you think the festival itself has changed?

I think the PR has gotten a lot better! We were really blown away with the number of interviews and the work everyone did leading up to this weekend.

I feel like every year the profile of NXNE gets elevated. The major acts that have come through in the past few years, it just keeps getting better. So, I say this a lot, but it’s even more of a privilege this year than it was last year, to be a part of it. It really is one of the biggest music festivals that we have in Canada. It was nice to be welcomed back, to play again. It’s nice to grow with the festival.

Talking about the Toronto music scene in general, do you guys consider yourselves a part of any specific music scene right now?

I don’t think so…

Any Toronto bands you consider an influence on your sound?

Attack in Black, Constantines, and Wooden Sky, especially early on.

Continue Reading on Page 2 for more with the Maladies of Adam Stokes

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