‘There’s no down time’

Toronto rockers say having famous friends is sometimes fun

Poor Young Things guitarist Dave Grant says they moved to Toronto to get ahead in the music industry.
Poor Young Things guitarist Dave Grant says they moved to Toronto to get ahead in the music industry.
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When you’re staying at a rock star’s house, people might think you’re one too.

Toronto rockers Poor Young Things have spent the past few years touring Canada and finding mentors in groups like The Trews and Arkells, even crashing at the family home of The Trews’ Colin and John-Angus MacDonald.

Guitarist Dave Grant said while the band was staying at the house recently, some fans asked them for a photograph thinking they were the members of the Trews.

Grant said the success his band has found after moving to Toronto is a “dream come true.”

“Sometimes I think ‘this can’t really be happening,’” he said.

The group made the move from their hometown of Thunder Bay two years ago, leaving to make a name for themselves in Toronto.

“[Thunder Bay] is a great place to grow up learning how to play music because frankly, it’s really cold and it’s great to sit in a nice, warm house and learn to play your instrument,” he said.

“By the time we got down to Toronto, we had honed our skills and could really focus on being on the scene.”

Grant said moving to Toronto helped the band get a competitive start in the music industry.

“Toronto is the centre of the music business in Canada and to get ahead, you kind of need to be down there and playing that scene all the time.”

Grant added that the city mirrors the energy the band tries to emulate in their live shows.

“Just walking in downtown Toronto is entertaining,” he said. “You can do that at four in the morning on a Monday and it’ll be entertaining. There’s no down time — it’s always going.”

Grant and his band mates don’t get much down time themselves.

They signed with producer Jon Drew of Arkells within a year of arriving in Toronto and have since made a name for themselves with songs inspired by their adopted home.

Their shared experiences and varied musical tastes combine to form a sound that Grant himself has difficulty describing.

“I personally come from a blues-based background,” he said.

“I love Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan and those guys, and I’ll take that approach when I’m writing my parts for the songs.”

Grant said the rest of his band mates bring their own influences to the recording studio as well.

“It just kind of cornucopia-morphs into our sound. And yes, cornucopia-morph is something I just made up.” Though the band has spent the last few years rubbing shoulders with Canada’s musical elite, Grant said he sees what they do as being actually quite similar to the pursuits of the students they play for.

“We’re fighting just as hard trying to get ahead in the music scene as they are with their degrees,” he said. “We’re all broke, you know, we’re all looking for our next meal, and I think there’s a relatability.”

Poor Young Things play the Mansion on Tuesday at 9 p.m.

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