What a set! That’s what I was thinking as 35 minutes of powerful yet mind ensnaring melodic rock came to an end at downtown Vancouver’s Red Room Niteclub. The band: Illuminosity — a three-piece which caught my attention online before I had the chance to see them live a month later.
A buzz is in the air around this group, and so there should be. A level of purity goes into every one of their songs, which are themselves crafted with percision and professional techniques few bands seem to be able to accomplish. They’re catchy. They’re heavy. They’re fresh. They’re relavent. They really rock! If you haven’t heard or heard of them, don’t worry. You surely will.
I caught up with Danny Illuminosity — the band’s songwriting frontman who plays guitar and sings with one hell of a set of pipes — for a chat about a range of topics ranging from their show last night, to their songs, to other types of music, to politics and everything else in between. The interview below — conducted for The Fresh Committee — documents much of that conversation.
Danny: At first I wasn’t that impressed with how we played, but that was mainly because I couldn’t hear anything through the monitors but vocals and the drums. The guitar was way too quiet and I couldn’t hear the bass at all. But afterwords I talked to a lot of people and watched some footage taken of our set and it sounded fine from the crowd’s perspective, and that’s all that matters in the long run.
TFC: It was an excellent set from where I was standing. I was honestly impressed. Let’s get into these songs you played. Now the first one was very melodic and very heavy. It reminded me of a Silverchair-type of track. The lyrics sounded excellent. What was that one called, what are the words you sing in the chorus, and can you tell us exactly what it’s about?
Danny: It’s called Rich Man’s Game. I guess that’s kind of self explanitory for what it’s about. It’s basically a blast at the way society functions, where a small group of obscenely rich people control the rest of us through media, manipulation, insufferable marketing and mind control, and dead end, low-wage jobs that consume our time and make nobody but the rich men at the top richer in the process, while we struggle to make ends meet. I’m trying to point out that the majority of us break our backs daily to hold up a system intentionally designed to hold us down. Disgusting irony. To the rich men, and I mean the really rich men, the bottom line is profit by any means necessary, and lots of it. I’m talking about the sick bastards who profit off of wars, legal drugs, hording resources, loan sharking from banks that don’t actually have the reserves they loan at interest, the sweatshop owners, and the like. Men who buy politicians and fund their campaigns to put them into positions where they can keep their illegal actvities on the up and up or hidden neatly under the rug, and who own every media outlet in the Western world and control them to infect the commonman with fear, insecurity, anxiety, and mindless entertainment filled with rhetoric and hidden agendas. We, the working class, are nothing but pawns in this game of their’s. I’m also trying to point out that the majority of people really don’t give a shit of how unfair this system is or how it actually operates. They don’t care, or maybe don’t even realize that the deck is stacked against them, and their friends and family, while the rich men have every advantage at their fingertips, and live lives we can’t even visualize because the concepts are so foreign to us, when really the richest men in the world are very small in numbers and the vast middle and lower classes make up the many. That’s the sad part. People are satisfied in their shackles so much they don’t even know they’re in them. If people really wanted this corruption to change, it would be done. But no one does a thing. So who are really the crazy ones? The ones making billions off the production of weapons of war, illegal banking and taxations, unjust laws, and security; or the idiots who allow it to happen at their own expense? The words for the hook are, “me and you are slaves, to a game, that makes a rich man’s grace, few complain, day to day, you better realize, we lose in shame, consume the pain, and watch the rich man gain, so who’s insane when we choose to play, in a rich man’s game.”
TFC: Are all your songs politcally motivated?
Danny: No, but a lot of them are. That’s the type of stuff I think about most so it’s also the type of subject matter that finds its way into our music. But we also play songs about typical stuff like relationships, girls, happiness, depression, redemption, regret, will, vengance, anger, satisfaction, overcoming adversity, and so on. As long as a song has authentic emotion, it has purpose, and therefore will always be respected, in my opinion.
TFC: Moving through the set, let’s tackle the next song you played. It was a heavy riff oriented track in the verses, almost blues, but more of a rocker that works its way into a post-grunge song by the chorus. Which one was that and what was it about?
Danny: That one’s called Stick to the Lies. Yeah, it’s definitely driven by that badass riff. It’s actually about cheating on your significant other with someone they know. The person you cheated with is always calling your significant other on the phone because they’re good friends, and you’re thinking, “she better stick to lying or we’re both sunk.”
TFC: Okay, intersting. Is this based on a true story?
Danny: Hahaha. No comment.
TFC: Fair enough. The next one was the song you have posted online from your EP, Take a Lesson. It sounds almost like a modern Black Sabbath song musically, but what’s the meaning behind the lyrics?
Danny: That’s one I wrote a few years back and recorded on my own in my apartment the day I wrote it. I still love playing it because of the bridge when the song picks up to triple time and then back to the original speed after a few bars. It’s fun to play. Lyrically it’s basically about, or at least directed at politicians and how fuckin’ phony they are. In particular Bush, Obama, Harper, Cameron and Blair were on my mind when I wrote that. They’re all just bought and paid for actors and liars. All of them. And they did more harm than good to innocent people and continue to. Anyone in this day and age who doesn’t know that every speech a politician makes is written by a professional speech writer, and those aren’t the actual words or thoughts of the scumbag diplomat spewing them into a microphone is a fuckin’ idiot and needs to wake up to reality. If this is something you haven’t considered, then next time you watch a politician address congress, senate, or the general public, keep that fact in mind and things should start to fall into a newer perspective to you. This song is just calling it as it really is. It’s saying these politicians need to take a lesson in being real and a lesson in speaking real.
TFC: Very cool. Next was what?
Danny: The next one, I think, was a pretty poppy song me and Chris wrote on acoustics a few years back called When I Was. It’s a steady tempo, 6/8 timing and standard 50’s chords song. It’s super fun to jam out. I actually recorded a solo acoustic version of it once with tons of vocal backing tracks all over it. As Illuminosity we really rock it up from its original format and play it like a grunge or punk song. It’s about falling in love and feeling like your life has been saved in the process, and then eventually growing old with this person and still seeing them as you did when you originally fell in love. Pretty typical I guess.
TFC: And then you guys did a cover of a Bush song? That was a good pick. A rare one, too. Why did you choose it?
Danny: Yeah, that was called Testosterone by Bush X. We try to do one cover song a show. It’s something something we listened to as kids in the nineties. We jammed it a couple times and it felt like it really fit into our set. It’s an awesome song and was always my favorite on Sixteen Stone. I think we’ll probably be playing that in our set again in the future.
TFC: You should. You really nailed it. And then you were back to originals playing the best song of the whole night, I think. It’s a softer song that explodes in the chorus. It’s not available on the net, is it? What was it called and what’s it about?
Danny: No it’s not available online, yet at least. We haven’t recorded that one, but it’s one of our favorites to play. It’s called Pride Before the Fall and it’s about finally seeing the world for what it is, and seeing yourself for who you truly are, instead of this wishful image you had in your head, and realizing how blind you were to so many ugly truths before that, even though you thought you had it all figured out, and continuing to press on despite your circumstances and realizations, becoming a better person for it in the long run, and succeeding further than you ever saw possible and in ways you never even imagined. It can apply to so many different situations throughout life, not my just my own personal experience I wrote it from.
TFC: Last but not least you played your final song. One which you announced as your newest. This was by far the heaviest song of the night. What was it called and can we find any versions of it online anywhere?
Danny: No, you’re not gonna find it online today. It’s called To the Floor. It’s an awesome one to play because there’s so many different time changes and breaks and solos and stuff. But it’s always high energy. And it has a part at the end that just breaks down into a drop D metal riff that the crowd seems to love every time. It’s about being held down but refusing to quit, and kicking your problems to floor, whatever they may be.
TFC: Cool. They were all great songs. Very ear pleasing and so many different influences come through in each one. I can’t wait to catch your next set. So, what does Illuminosity mean?
Danny: It means to shine bright. Intelligence wise in our case, or I should say that’s what I intended the name to purvey. I want my music to always be driven, or underlined with the intention of spreading knowledge and awareness of something or other that could either comfort or enlighten the listener. That’s what I think the job of all true artists should be. Art is a form of communication, so it should say something important.
TFC: I agree. Who are the members of Illuminosity and who are your favorite groups?
Danny: Chris plays the drums. Tri plays the bass. And I play the guitar and sing. My favorite bands are a combination of Nirvana, the Beatles, and Pearl Jam. I would say the others would agree those are their favorites, too. Tri and Chris are also metal fans, though. I’m not at all. But they were really into the Deftones, Korn, and Pantera in high school. I was more into punk rock at that time. Bands like Rancid, NOFX, and Lagwagon. These days I listen to select songs from various bands. Lately I’ve been loving a few Radiohead songs for some reason. They’re actually a lot better than I ever gave them credit for back in the day.
TFC: How about your favorite album of all time?
Danny: I would have to either give it to the Beatles Abbey Road or Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Probably Dark Side, but they’re both epic albums.
TFC: When did you all get into playing music?
Danny: I was 11 when Chris taught me to play guitar and drums. So he was younger when he learned, I guess. Chris’s dad actually taught myself, Chris, and his brother Robby how to really play music well and let us use his gear to practice in our bands since grade 6, which was 1996. Tri picked the guitar at some point in high school. He plays bass now because we needed a bass player, but he’s orignally an axe-man.
TFC: What was your first band called and how many have you been in since?
Danny: In ’96, so when were 11 or 12, me, Chris, and our buddy Jason formed a grunge band that shamelessly sounded exactly like Nirvana and called it Skank. Then we formed one called Three Day Cure with a guy named Shane on bass, me on guitar, and Chris on drums that was a little bit of every rock influence. Then Jason rejoined us for a punk band called Replica, and finally we changed that name to Norton, which is a band that ended around 2000 or 2001. We played pop punk music typical of that era. That was the last band I was in until we formed Illuminosity in the summer of 2015. But Chris and Tri played with various people during the time I wasn’t playing in any bands. Who, I don’t know exactly. You’d have to ask them. I know Chris played in a band with his brother for a time.
TFC: You had somewhat of a career in hip hop as a rapper and producer, too?
Danny: I did. That was the first genre of music I ever gained a real reputation in. I won a bunch of battles around the city [Vancouver] and did tons of shows. I was in a group called Dominus Monologue with Autokrat, who is still killing it with rap, and DJ Quite Frankley, who sadly passed away a couple years back now. After Dominus broke up I did a little more solo work with DJ Pick as my backup, but I was kind of over the whole rap thing far before I quit it. I just wasn’t feeling it anymore.
TFC: I bet rock suits you better anyway. What was your biggest accomplishment in the hip hop scene?
Danny: Me and Autokrat did a show opening for Snoop Dogg and Bubba Sparxx once. So that was probably the pinnacle of my memories of that part of my life. We also did shows with DPG, Trina, Scarface, 2 Live Crew, Sean Paul, Coolio, and a shit load of others. They were fun times I’ll always cherish, but yeah, my heart has always been in making music on real instruments in the style of good old rock and roll.
TFC: What has been your biggest accomplishment since forming Illuminosity?
Danny: The point the three of us are at now when playing together is a huge accomplishment to me. We’re at the point where I can bring in a song to show the guys and we have it down within 25-45 minutes. That’s a lot different from when I was showing them how to play our original song list last summer when we just started out. I was worried that it was gonna be such hard work, which it is, but it’s really enjoyable work. We’re also really proud to be getting booked at such good venues so early into our project and to have so many publications and broadcasts showing interest in us already. We must be doing something right.
TFC: What are your goals on the horizon for the group?
Danny: We plan on recording all of our material soon. So expect some type of release within 2016. We should also have a video made soon enough for a song called It Doesn’t Matter off our already released EP of that name.
TFC: Any tours in the near future?
Danny: Definitely. We’re planning on doing a quick tour down to Olympia and back in the summer. We’re gonna try to hit Bellingham, Everett, Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia. We might go into Alberta, too, at a different time either this year or next year. And of course we’ll be continuing to do live shows in Vancouver and other cities in the Lower Mainland every month or two.
TFC: Do you prefer doing live shows to recording?
Danny: I love to do both, but for me nothing beats a live show night. It’s exciting and I love the atmosphere in the club when you have a great line up of bands on the same bill. Whether it’s for 10 people in the crowd or a 1000, it’s always a great experience to take the stage and share your music and you always meet new like-minded people. Really there’s nothing in life that appeals to me as much. I bet Tri and Chris would agree.
TFC: Who are your favorite bands to play with live?
Danny: Well, I love playing with the Flu and Destructive Interference. They’re the first bands we ever got on a bill with and they both kill it. They’re also really good guys all around. I also love playing with Lo-Coast, which is my good friend Jr.’s band. We’ve played a few shows with Redfinn and really like them, too. And the band that played last night called Rexford Drive, who come from Eastern Europe and are all brothers weirdly enough, they put on an awesome show, too. I hope we play with them again. Vancouver has a great community of bands right now, actually. It feels like a good community. Everyone’s very supportive of each other and everyone gets along. That’s why live shows are so fun to be at these days.
TFC: Who were some local bands you liked growing up?
Danny: Well, as I said, I was into melodic punk as a teen, so Gob was hands down my favorite local group back then. They were like heroes to me. They did an album I used to listen to all day with another Vancouver band called Another Joe. They were fuckin’ awesome, too. I saw DOA a few times, too. I also got really into the Spawner Records groups like Fuzz 58, the Retreads, the Deviantz, and Wisecrack. The McCrackins were a sick band, too. Man, there were so many. I was really into going to shows like every weekend when I was in my teens, so I saw and played with a lot of great bands back then. I think Gob is the only one still going today, although I wouldn’t be surprised if DOA is still going.
TFC: Yeah, they just released an album. Not only sticking to local bands, who put on the best show you ever saw live?
Danny: Green Day was really entertaining and they played all my favorite songs when I saw them back in ’98 or ’99. Even though I hate them I can’t help but to admit Hole put on a good show. The Foo Fighters and the Tea Party put on fantastic sets when I saw them. I always see Pearl jam when they come through town. But the best show I ever saw was Paul McCartney. Nobody touches that concert.
TFC: Do you try to incorporate any aspects of those shows into your own performances on stage?
Danny: No, not really. I’m not really a showman of sorts that’s gonna run around the stage, or jump off it, or lay on my back while I play a solo. All three of us stick to the business of playing our songs as well as we can without focussing on any of the other bullshit. But I guess the groups I mentioned before kind of stick to that same formula, too.
TFC: Are you guys big partiers?
Danny: No, or at least we try not to be. When we were younger we were all pretty hard partiers. But we’re older now and aren’t really into that lifestyle. At least not me. I can’t speak for the others. Although last night I really tied one on at Red Room after our set and ended up hitting a few more bars afterwards and didn’t make it back to home until like noon the next day. It was the wildest I’ve been in years now. Literally. But every now and then you gotta get it out of your system, and I had a fucking great time. But believe me, I’m paying for it today and probably won’t party again like that for months and months.
TFC: What are some bands you’re into that are current?
Danny: None. No I’m kidding. I love Jack White, mainly the Raconteurs. The Dead Weather is great too, though. Cage the Elephant has really catchy tunes. That Monster Truck band is pretty killer. Mumford and Sons is a great band with unique, high energy, catchy songs. I’m probably forgetting some because I’m bad with names. But there are some good groups out there. Unfortunately, though, the majority of what’s coming out today sucks a lot of dick. Pardon my French.
TFC: Before we wrap this up, tell us the best way for your fans to stay updated on shows, releases and events.
Danny: We post all our shows to our Facebook page and our Reverb Nation page, which I’ll link to you to include in the article along with all our other social media links.
TFC: Well I guess we’ll end it on that note and I’ll let you get back to your hang over. Thank you for your time. Anything else you want to add for anybody listening to or reading this out there?
Danny: Sure. I just wanna thank all the people who have supported us so far by coming out to our shows or sharing our music, news, and presss. We really do appreciate it so much.