An impromptu interview with illScarlet, Toronto’s own reggae-infused punk band.
Disarray Mag: We have two members of illScarlett. Who are we talking to?
illScarlett: Alex and Swav.
DM: So, I see you guys have had many stints on the tour, but you got your first break in 2004. Tell us about that unlikely event came about.
illScarlet: Yeah, it was the 2004 Toronto Warped Tour date. We basically just rented a van, got all our gear, and drove to the venue. We just went up, set up outside near the line, just to sell some CD’s and promote ourselves. Kevin Lyman saw us playing and he invited us back to play at his BBQ that night, he needed a band to play, and we just got lucky. He just happened to be walking by at the right time and saw us. From there he gave us a few dates the next year, and then again in ’06 for two weeks, and then in ’07 we did some Canadian dates, and now we are here, finally on the whole thing.
DM: You guys are from Canada, Toronto basically, do you get to tour in the US often?
illScarlett: Yeah, we do a lot of Canada. We’ve done a really cool tour with Pepper, in the states, and we just did another tour with Big D and The Kids Table along the East Coast. So there is that, but mostly just the Warped Tour, yeah.
DM: What is the difference in touring up in Canada than down here in the states?
illScarlett: Well, we’re much more established back home with songs on the radio and all. It is a little different here. No one really knows us, but I’ve found the American fans super welcoming and appreciative. There’s lots of ya! (laughs) There are a lot more places to play as opposed to Canada where we play 15 shows across the whole country and here we could do 15 shows in just one or two states. I mean, California, you could do a full tour just here, by itself.
DM: Being here is quite a change from Toronto. How do you like the West Coast, California vibe?
illScarlett: We love California. We made our last two records here in Los Angeles. We feel very much at home here. People here are super chill, super nice, and polite. Oh God, the food. The food in California is unbelievable. I don’t know, it feels like where we’re from, because we’re from the suburbs, so California definitely has a suburban feel to it. I love the suburbs, so I’m very much at home.
DM: What are we working on now then?
illScarlett: We just finished writing our next album. The fourth, I think. I don’t know, they all run together. We were planning on recording and doing it in June, but because of Warped Tour and scheduling conflicts we’ve pushed it back to September so we’re gonna be working with David Kahn on the new album. It’s gonna be due out February or March of next year.
DM: For those down here in the states that don’t know, what kind of sound is illScarlett? Fill in the blank: If you love _________, you’ll love illScarlett.
illScarlett: If you like Sublime, Dirty Heads, or Pepper, you’ll definitely like illScarlett.
DM: Talking about some of your tracks, “Too Late” is written for the person trying to call you up for a booty call, but they’re too late. Then you’ve also got “Heaters” which comments a bit on only the appearance of the freedoms we seem to hold so dear in the western world. Are you chiding America a bit, or is this Canada included?
illScarlett: Yeah, it’w western freedoms in general. Sure, we’re a lot freer than a lot of other countries, but it’s still a freedom that the system uses to their benefit. I don’t wanna get too deep.
DM: So, we’re talking about like the construct we believe is real...
illScarlett: It’s like the Matrix, yeah. (laughs)
DM: Also, a previous album was called “1up,” inspired by Super Mario Bros.? So we’ve got politics, booty calls, and video games?
illScarlett: Yeah, that’s pretty much us. Throw in a joint and a bottle of tequila, and you’ve pretty much got us right there.
DM: So that’s pretty much how you make a band? Video games, booze, and ex-girlfriends.
illScarlett: Yeah, that’s probably the best quote I’ve heard in a while. “How to start a band...” (laughs) Your girlfriend breaks up with you, because you’re on the road, doing “bad things...” (laughs)
DM: Yeah. is there a difficulty with keeping a main squeeze back home? I mean, how many months a year are you touring? Do you guys have a girl waiting back home?
illScarlett: (Alex) Not me, that’s for sure. (Swav) I do, yeah. I’m engaged to be married.
So, Suave is off the market, yeah. Yeah, we tour about eight months a year. We’ve slowed down a bit recently, with writing and focusing on the new record, But when we’re full speed it is eight months a year on the road.
DM: Is there any idea then when you’ll be back in the LA area? When can we get to see you next?
illScarlett: I think we’re are planning a little follow-up tour to the Warped Tour. Maybe in the fall. It’s not totally decide right now, but late fall to early winter, I guess.
To be the first to know about the possible date in the greater LA area go to illScarlett.com for all your Canadian reggae/punk needs. They will fill your Yankee brains with all you can handle. Check these guys out. I am not a huge fan of straight reggae tunes, but the punk kind of vibe they add to their music has got me after I got a free copy of “20 tracks, five bucks, that’s ill” from them. There are some seriously good tracks on that thing. Thanks to illScarlett for bearing with me through an impromptu interview after hearing a great story about discovering a 1/4 of green goodness in a van. These guys are not posing.
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About the Author
Wesley Bauman, author of Doggy Paddling in the Deep End, is a writer/photojournalist originally from Oregon who makes his home in Ventura, CA. He's contributed to the VCReporter and maintains an active blog (http://projectpoppycock.com/) where he writes on political and social satire regularly. Follow Wesley on Twitter @myownfalseidol