The Perms, coming out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, have once again arrived on the alternative rock scene with their 5th studio album, “Sofia Nights.” With Shane Smith on bass, Chad Smith on guitar, John Huver on drums and all on vocals, The Perms make music for the eclectic soul. All three members of The Perms, formed in 1998 in Brandon, Manitoba after realizing each of them shared the same musical tastes, were in different bands prior to forming. Chad and Shane are brothers and John is a high school friend of the brothers. Their friendship and shared passion for making music “that matters” has been the motivation that drives this band forward. They all have the same goal in common – a love for music, which creates a perfect marriage of minds and personalities.
When I caught up with Shane from The Perms recently, curiosity had me to ask, “How did The Perms get their name?”
We got our name in 1998 when we were performing as a three piece in Brandon, MB. We were called Three’s Company at the time. It was suggested that we change our name to something a little catchier. We thought about the name Tight Perm and then settled on The Perms.
The Canadian trio gives us a little background and talks about their new album “Sofia Nights.”
What are your songs about?
Our songs are pretty much about anything that inspires us. Quite a few of the songs on the latest album were inspired by our European tour last year. We wrote about everything from missing loved ones to the city of Mannheim, Germany.
For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound:
Power pop. A cross between Weezer, Cheap Trick and Fountains of Wayne.
You guys have five albums to date, how do your new songs differ from your older material?
Well, the new songs in my opinion are more of a collaborative effort. We bunkered down in our jam space for a number of weeks testing out the new material, coming up with melodies and harmonies. It was definitely a group effort.
Tell me about “Sofia Nights.”
Sofia Nights was inspired by our first European tour last year (2010). It explores a number of different topics, some of which have to do with Europe and the experience of being in a new international country.
How were the recent shows that you guys did this past month in Canada?
They were really good. The new songs are really coming across well. We just did a few dates out west and it was a humbling experience for people to be singing your songs and complimenting the set. It really is great.
Who influences each of you in music?
We all have a 60’s and 70’s inspiration. We love bands like the Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra, and Chicago. As far as modern music goes, we love bands like the Jayhawks, Grouplove, Everybody Else and Mother Mother.
As a child growing up, music surrounds us; what type of music did you all hear the most back then? How does it differ from what you listen to now?
Well, our dad was a musician so we were always hearing him get up new material like Chicago or Badfinger. I remember the first time my dad brought home the Beatles movie Help. I was hooked and I was only 12 years old at the time.
Well, I definitely love performing “Make it Through” off the new album. It has a great groove and a great energy. I also love performing “Running Away” which was our second single off of our 4th album “Keeps You Up When You’re Down.” It has a great rhythm pattern and again a lot of energy.
If you only had five minutes on earth to perform one song that could leave a great impact on the world today, what song would you perform and why did you choose this particular song?
“We Are the World,” no question! I would have to ask some of my friends to help out with some of the vocal parts though.
What do you think your greatest opportunity has been so far in your musical career?
Well, just playing as long as we have been is a feat in itself. We started in 1998. There was a two year hiatus in there somewhere but for the most part we have been recording, touring, etc. for over 10 years. Not many bands can say that.
What is one thing you can’t live without?
I can’t live without my iPod. I am constantly listening to music or listening to songs that I am currently working on.”
I asked Shane, “If I were to turn on your iPod right now, what artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?”
Grouplove’s new album, Cheap Trick greatest hits and Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue.
What is your wildest story with the group?
Well, the most recent story would have to be in July when we were playing at the Nakusp Music Festival. We actually met Kevin Costner. Our drummer John complimented him about his movies. He didn’t take very kindly to that, I’m guessing because then he walked away from us. Apparently he doesn’t like talking about his movies when he is on tour with his band. Bizarre!
How do you guys feel about music control & music censorship in general?
As far as music control, we are for file sharing. If a person wants to download our album for free, more power to them. The more the merrier, I say.
How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from music?
Well, I love working out, we have a small baby so were always entertaining her. But, to be honest, I am rarely away from music.
The Perms’ creative talent is at an all-time high with the release of their fifth studio album, “Sofia Nights.” Written entirely by the band, listeners embark on a pop-eclectic themed experience filled with energetic vocals and attention-grabbing rhythmic guitar strums.
“High School High,” the album’s first track is the perfect teaser as it accomplishes the goal of setting the ideal tone of the album. “Make It Through” only continues to establish the tone initially set. While the “skip” button is non-existent, some listeners may gripe at the length of the album. Ten solid tracks can easily leave on wanting more. That’s when I’d recommend pulling out one of their past classic albums like “Better Days” or “Keeps You Up When You’re Down.”
“Sofia Nights” boasts strong cohesiveness which I’m sure is attributed to the band’s collective chemistry. No one can question the fact that the energy Shane, John and Chad exude is natural and driven by their passion for making music that their listeners will continue to play for years to come.
Preview Tracks from Sofia Nights
High School High: