Rising Stars, August 2014 – Alvvays

Once a month, All Things Loud is going to introduce you into an up-and-coming act who we think is going to make it big in the future. For our first edition, we’d like you to meet the Canadian quintet Alvvays.

Toronto quintet Alvvays (pronounced ‘always’) recently surfaced on the scene with their eclectic mix of psych/surf pop. Consisting of vocalist Molly Rankin, guitarist Alec O’Hanley, keyboardist Kerri Maclellan, bassist Brian Murphy and drummer Phil MacIsaac, their July self-titled debut album features the stellar Archie, Marry Me, alongside the jangly guitars of Adult Diversion and the melancholy slacker anthem of Party Police. Vocalist Molly Rankin’s sweet, laid back vocals and storytelling lyrics, contrasted by garage guitar melodies and fuzzy synths, give the songs an extremely youthful feel. You can almost sense all the passion and effort that has gone towards these songs, with critics praising their work to great lengths. It takes something very special for a small, upcoming band like these guys to get so much praise for one song alone (Archie, Marry Me has unanimously been hailed as one of the best songs of 2014 by miles), yet upon just one listen to their self-titled debut album the hype seems to fully justify itself. It might be early days for Alvvays but, alongside the likes of fellow Canadians Speedy Ortiz and Scottish duo Honeyblood, don’t be surprised if you start hearing a lot more from this quintet in the future.

As part of this feature, we also spoke to Alvvays’ guitarist Alec O’Hanley.

How did Alvvays come to form as a band?
There’s no set date, Molly’s solo project bled into the origins of Alvvays. Molly and I threw all our junk in a U-Haul and moved from the smallest Canadian province to Toronto. I found a new sea-foam guitar conducive to surf sounds. Our recorder guru Chad Van Gaalen sorta said, ’Dudes, these are band songs, find a band name.

Your debut self-titled album was released last month, and it’s a fantastic record. When you were recording it, who or what were your main influences in terms of the music itself and the accompanying songwriting?
There are bands we deliberately crib from like the Velvet Underground and Teenage Fanclub, and others where we admire certain aspects of their approach. John Maus, Women, Abba etc. etc.

Archie, Marry Me is by far one of the most impressive songs of the year so far. Can you tell us a bit more about that song in particular?
Molly sent the verse and chorus of that one to me when I was in Australia. She had been listening to Everything Flows on repeat. It’s all there in the liners. An irreverent dismissal of an antiquated institution.

Reviews for your debut album have been extremely positive. When you were in the process of making the album, did you ever expect it to gain the recognition and praise that it has been getting? 
Reviews have been nice in pockets. We just laugh at the middling ones because we know the album is a hit parade. There are many who lament our lack of originality, which is just a roundabout way of dismissing guitar pop in general. No one’s been original since Beethoven, so get over it.

What can we expect from you guys for the rest of 2014?
Doing what bands do. Tour. Write. Record. Repeat!