The This Many Boyfriends Club are a twee-noise band from Montreal composed of Casimir Frederic Coquette Kaplan (Cas) on guitar and vocals, Veronica Danger Winslow-Danger (Veronica) on vocals, Andrew Miller (Andrew) on bass and Evan Magoni (Magoni) on drums. They are slowly but surely winning over the hearts of the Montreal underground music scene. The Boyfriends describe themselves as Torture-Pop, Dandy-Punk, Frock ‘n’ Roll and Heavy Petal, but after listening to their latest EP, A Pumpkin Like You, I can definitely hear the influences of Pavement and Sonic Youth. The sometimes somewhat unusual lyric combination and melodies give the Boyfriends an eerie-noise sound, comparing them to The Moldy Peaches. I sat down with the Boyfriends to talk about how they got together, the meaning behind their mysterious lyrics and the music scene in Montreal.
Nina Chabel (Nina): When did you guys start playing as a band? How did you get together?
Cas: Veronica and I have been roommates since our second year in university and Lara, who used to sing with us, was also my roommate. I met Andrew in a very round about way through some friends who invited me to his show by another band that he was in. Back then, I was in band with some other guys and they quit on me but there was a party I really wanted to play so I was like “Hey Andrew, let’s play some really dirty punk music together with my drum machine at this party.” I think at that time we were still called Tender Cupcakes.
Andrew: I think I was calling us Tender Cupcakes.
Cas: I wasn’t calling us anything. I still don’t really like it that much as a name but I’ve accepted is as part of our lore.
Andrew: I called us Tender Cupcakes for at least five shows.
Cas: You mainly yelled out from behind the microphone on stage. That’s how I met Andrew. Veronica and Lara lived with me so they were always sort of hanging around during our rehearsals and eventually they just kind of started humming along because they got to know the songs eventually and I was like “Do you guys wanna sing with us?” and they were like “Yeah!”
Veronica: I thought you’d never ask.
Cas: So that happened. And then we used the drum machine for a while because I had this stupid concept.
Andrew: It was pretty hilarious.
Cas: It was pretty bad. Shitty drum machine. I was lazy about programming it.
Nina: So how did you find your drummer?
Cas: When it came time to start recording [our first] EP, we knew that we needed a drummer. I tried recording the drum tracks myself but it didn’t come out well at all, so we put a call out that anybody who plays drums should play drums with us and we had these sort of open mic nights at our apartment and Magoni just happened to have some mutual friends with us so he came and he sequenced a bunch of tunes on his Gameboy and he fucking destroyed the room. He got a lot of attention that night and then on his way out that night when he saw us play he was like “Hey if you guys need a drummer, let me know, because I play drums”
Magoni: Good thing I was drunk enough to say that. That was a key factor.
Cas: It turned out to be a perfect fit. And that was it. He joined up officially in November of 2012. Besides playing the drums, Evan Magoni also presses buttons and creates sounds on the side
Nina: I’m guessing your name “The This Many Boyfriends Club” comes from the song from Beat Happening? Why did you choose that particular name?
Andrew: That’s Cas’ official story.
Cas: Yeah there are 2 stories.
Andrew: The story that everyone else in the band is accustomed to is different. When we first met each other, I think I would come over to hang out or something and Lara was having some kind of panicky day.
Veronica: She tends to spaz.
Cas: Lara’s not with us anymore, she’s our phantom member. She just started a theater company that does music in Montreal.
Andrew: So we were all talking about that and for some reason she started referring to her problems as “having a boyfriend.”
Veronica: I think she misspoke at some point because she was spazing so hard
Cas: She was trying not to have a boyfriend about it and that just sort of became a thing
Andrew: And then we started talking about how many boyfriends she had and then Cas turned it into our name.
Cas: It sort of coincided with the fact that I loved Beat Happening a lot and in the beginning I wanted us to sound a lot more sort of like twee and cutesy so it kind of made sense.
Andrew: It’s definitely how our first EP sounded.
Magoni: Then I joined and made it angry.
Veronica: He’s our token angry member.
Cas: The first show we played with Magoni, between almost every song, I’d just hear him screaming. Not even any word, he would just scream as he counted off.
Andrew: He was standing up too. Between songs he would just like stand up and just yell “Fuck” into the audience.
Nina: How did you came about writing the songs on A Pumpkin Like You? Did anything in particular especially influence you?
Cas: I mean the way it’s been working up to now is that I’ll write the songs on guitar and then I’ll write the words and we’ll sort of come together and figure out the rest. Andrew and Magoni write their own parts. I guess I tend to write parts for Veronica but she has contributed a lot more to writing her parts than I think she realizes.
Veronica: What’s been happening recently is that Cas will write sort of the bare bones of a song. He will write the lyrics and come up with stuff. And then we’ll practice until he would say, “Ok do it this way.”
Andrew: Mostly [Cas] says some stuff and we play things a lot faster and louder than previously thought about.
Cas: I used to try and write all the parts but then I realized that the less complete the idea was before I brought it in, the better the end product. And I’m a lot happier with that kind of arrangement. What’s interesting is that our EPs are sort of released all out of order. This EP, A Pumpkin Like You, has some of our older songs on it that we didn’t really get around to recording. I usually tell people that we’re somewhere between The Smiths and Blink-182 because I don’t play a lot of chords.
Magoni: The rest of the band disputes that.
Nina: What do you guys think?
Andrew: I see very little comparison.
Magoni: I don’t listen to enough like rock music to know.
Cas: The Bink-182 is definitely less apparent on this record. I’m just kind of restless; every time I get into a new band I wind up writing a song inspired by them.
Andrew: I think we’re influenced by playing live a lot more. We played a lot of shows together and we realized that we like certain things more.
Nina: Why did you choose to title your EP “A Pumpkin like you?” Is it because of the line ,“It’s more than I’d do for a punk kid like you” in your song Only Trying or is that just a coincidence?
Andrew: That has to do with Evan and I, not knowing what’s going on. We were singing the wrong lyrics and it kind of became a thing.
Magoni: Yeah we don’t know the lyrics so we just invented that.
Cas: Actually we made, Magoni and I, just made a little music video for that song.
Veronica: Sometimes if you listen closely you can hear us sing that stuff.
Cas: I still don’t know. Lara and Veronica threatened to say “Pumpkin” on the record and I don’t know if they did.
Veronica: I didn’t say Pumpkin on the record but I say it at shows.
Nina: How do you guys like the music scene in Montreal?
Cas: It’s very interesting right now. There’s a lot of things happening for rock and roll but there isn’t much attention payed to it yet.
Andrew: I think I’m surprised by how many people are in these weird different sections that I don’t know about until I go to a party and all of a sudden I meet a 100 different people who are in bands that play in Montreal and I’m like “Where did you all people come from?”
Magoni: Yeah there are so many scenes that are completely under the radar that are amazing. Like I went to this basement [show] one night and there was this [amazing] rock scene happening two blocks away from my house. It was the best show I’ve ever been to in Montreal.
Cas: The thing that I noticed when I came here is that there was sort of this hole left for rock and roll bands to form downtown. In the beginning it was really hard for us to find shows because we didn’t really know any other bands but with time all these amazing bands found each other and it seems to be easier.
Andrew: I mean there’s the whole scene with Spencer Krug and all that. The old generation of bands in Montreal got really popular for a while but there were never people that really tried that hard to get big.
Cas: Yeah, not a lot of careerism around here. All the bands that we play with are really down to earth. We rehearse with all these bands that are playing guitars again and what’s funny is that there is this one review that I think the McGill Daily wrote about us they kept referring to us as a nostalgia act and they pointed out that the guitar being the lead instrument is what’s so nostalgic. Guitars are making a comeback.
Nina: I’m guessing your song Polly Anne Marie is your single. I have to ask, is there really a Polly Anne Marie?
Cas: It’s sort of a favourite. If we can be said to have any fans, they often come back to that one.
Andrew: I think it’s our best produced track.
Cas: It’s probably our popiest.
Nina: Is there a Polly Anne Marie or is it somebody made up?
Cas: Well Polly Anne Marie is a play on the word polyamory. Basically what happened to that is I was walking home stoned one night and then the next day I was in class and I made up a melody and I just sort of wrote down the first words that could fit that and it turned into a weird story about a weird girl.
Veronica: All of our songs are about made up people in Cas’ head mostly.
Cas: Polly Anne Marie is sort of a nonsense poem. It’s the most incoherent song.
Usually when I’m writing a song, I have the melody first and then whatever syllable comes to mind I’ll translate until I can turn it into something but that one was just direct. I’ve been taking lyric writing a lot more seriously since we started. I feel like if I start talking about [lyrics] it could go on forever and ever.
Magoni: Sometimes when he explains it it makes more sense.
The This Many Boyfriends Club perform with Trade Secrets, Sister Island, and Nanimal on Feb 7 at Café Caos (2031 St. Denis). 9 p.m. $5.