Feature for July 2017
Band Name: The Cliff Divers
Genre: Instrumental Surf and Rock 'n Roll
Geographical Area: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Interview with: Nautiloid Rick by email on 7/1/17 ("Canada Day, 150 years since confederation. I am writing this from Ottawa, our nation's capital. The July 1st fireworks were incredible!") Thanks for taking time out from this important celebration to do this interview - ed.
Band Formed in 2010
NESMA member since 2017
1. What is the current line-up of your band?
Dan Brody - Drums
Johnny Guitar - Guitar and all kinds of 6 string things and effects
Nautiloid Rick - Bass Guitar
2. How and when did you get started with your band?
What bands or music have influenced you the most?
For old school I would say the Ventures, Link Wray, Dick Dale, Davie Allen, Duanne Eddy, Eddie Cochrane, Scotty Moore, The Astronauts, Trashmen, Ennio Morricone, Eleki bands. We really like all those crazy teen surf bands from the '60. Not just surf though - we are also into all kinds of 50's and 60's stuff. Dan calls us The Blue Cheer of surf.
For modern bands - The Cramps, Satan's Pilgrims, Los Straightjackets, The Penetrators, The Surf Coasters , Jon and the Nightriders, Slacktone, The Cadillac Hitmen and of course Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and Heuvos Rancheros. One more big influence is all the bands we know and have played with. A big shout out has to go to Pete Jones and Dano who organize the Great Lakes Surf Battle and are great promoters and ambassadors for our music. Local bands and out-of-towners who have played at Surf Battle and Fall Brawl are too numerous to mention but a special mention to The Blue Demons, The Von Drats, The Champions of Justice, Luau or Die, King Beez, Mark Malibu and the Wasagas, the Surfrajettes, Men in Gray Suits, Hang Ten Hang Men, Hang Ten Gallon Hats, Reverb Syndicate and the 9th Wave. All very cool people and great bands. All surf - all different.
4. What is the break down of cover vs. original material in your live shows and/or recordings?
We are half and half originals and covers live but will mix it up depending on the show. For a surf crowd, more originals and for a non-surf crowd, more covers.
We don't have any studio recording but when we do it will be all original.
What recording have you done?
We record all our shows and have done a couple of Live Radio and radio station recordings. Really no professional studio recordings but hopefully we can get something together in the near future. We do have a lot of originals ready to go.
6. What kind of gear do you use?
Dan has 2 kits. One big black beauty Pearl kit and one smaller 60's Japanese kit we use for smaller stages. The Japanese kit seems to always live in my basement. Dan could tell you more about the cymbals he uses but getting good quality Sabian or Ziljian is key. I know Dan would also endorse Yamaha stands and pedals. They are the only ones that seem to hold up to his pounding.
John is a big time guitar collector and has all kinds of guitars, amps and effects. He plays in a variety of bands and is also a terrific acoustic player. Anything with strings. Slide, banjo, mandolin etc. For the Cliff Divers he mainly plays Fender Jaguars, Mosrites and Gretches. He also brings out crazy Japanese guitars like the 4 PU Cipher. Lately though he has been pulling out a favorite Fender Tele with a bender for things like "Green Onions". He plays a Kula lap steel shaped like a surf board for our live shows. He has lots of other slide guitars but for some reason it sounds good and it looks Kool.
Amp-wise John uses a silver face Fender Deluxe, Fender reverb tank and tape echo through a plethora of fancy pedals. He has mastered the use of the Electro Harmonix keyboard pedals which is great for "Telstar" and "Light my Fire". One of them actually has a Telstar setting. For bigger shows John also uses a moded Fender super Reverb which is killer.
I typically play a Fender Precision bass. Leo got it right at his first attempt. Amazing. I have several of them but with The Cliff Divers I have been playing a late 50's style one that I put '62 custom shop pickups in. It is creamy white with a gold metal pick guard and maple fingerboard. Very sharp. I prefer a rosewood board but for some reason I like this one. Besides that I like Fender Mustangs and anything that looks like a cross between an Fender and a Mosrite. I collect vintage Japanese basses and have some great ones. I have an Eden 550 World Traveler amp and use RA Wood custom cabinets. I have a 2x10 and a 1x15. Rick at RA Wood really makes killer cabinets. For pedals I have bunch but I only use a Boss tuner. The Eden has a built in compressor that I use but if I don't have my own rig I use a Diamond compressor which is really nice. For most of the surf stuff we do I use a pick. My pick of choice is the Carol Kaye signature pick. As Carol says they sound great! What is cool is that you can go on Carol's website and order them directly from her along with Enfield Thomastic flatwound strings. Carol is the best.
7. What is your bandís favorite food/beverage?
Well Dan and I are mostly beer drinkers and since John is usually driving prefers anything non-alcoholic and really cold and really refreshing. He needs to keep his wits about him. Dan and I not so much.
Dan and I are also known to tip back the odd Barrel of Rum and at our local Tiki Bar "The Shameful Tiki". Elena who runs the joint always knows I will want a Black Velvet when I walk through the door into paradise. Rum and Coffee. Perfect! Non-tiki, the Manhattan is my all time favorite mixed drink.
Dan and I are also partial to apple cider from the Norfolk county fair. Can't be beat,
No fast food. We like slow food and lots of it. BBQ yum.
8. How do you get gigs?
We have been playing for a while now so we usually get gigs from friends that book shows or are in bands. Sometimes from people who see us play and contact us through Facebook. Right now in Toronto we are really lucky that there are a number of places that book surf and have regular shows. There is a fan base and we like to also play with rockabilly and garage rock bands which leads to more gigs. We are also fans of rockabilly and garage. Burlesque shows are also in the mix.
What are the difficulties you
find playing your kind of music in your area?
We have been fortunate that Surf is good in Toronto right now. We have never had a really bad gig. I mean it is a lot easier playing to your crowd but we usually win them over and get people moving. We are often asked why we don't have a singer and I say we have one. His name is Leo Fender and he is an excellent singer.
10. What positive attributes does your band have that sets you apart from other bands (of any genre)?
We are really into Surf and music in a big way. 3 music geeks in one band.
We are easy to get along with. No attitude. Easy to work with. If we agree to do something we do it with no hassles. Honestly I really think that goes for all of the Toronto surf bands. We are all happy to be playing the music we love and we have people to play to that appreciate it .
What have you found to be the
single most effective promotional tool youíve used to further your bandís
12. Whatís the most interesting performance experience youíve had?
13. What do you hope to get out of being a NESMA member?
Connecting with and helping out other bands and like-minded individuals.
14. Anything else?