Nu-grass outfit Mumbai Standstill play Manantler Brewery in Bowmanville Nov. 21. The Uxbridge formed seven-piece blends R&B, soul and folk elements generating a sound that nods as much to Bedouin Soundclash as it does to The Band. The band itself is Jamie Gallard (Acoustic Guitar/Vocals), Mark Givelas (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Ben Race (Vocals), Brandon Cox (Drums), CJ Blodgett (Banjo), Brett Simmonds (Bass) and Stu Retallack (Trumpet/Keys). Their debut album Troubles is now available. Givelas took the time to chat with SlowCity.
SlowCity: OK so you have a few members. How did you build the band and why so many members?
“The first Mumbai Standstill songs were written when the band consisted of only three members (Mark Givelas, Jamie Gallard, Ben Race) and acoustic guitars. Realizing the potential for a much bigger sound, we sought out additional players immediately after the band's inception. By chance, Jamie had been studying recording engineering downtown and mentioned that his classmate played banjo, thus the introduction of CJ Blodgett to the band. This was around the same time that a long-time friend of the founding members, Brett Simmonds joined Mumbai to play bass. Shortly after the emergence of a solid 5-piece, Stu Retallack was asked to jam on trumpets (and later keys)- bringing to the table some major elements of Mumbai's characteristic sound. All the band needed now was a drummer, and fortunately CJ's good friend Brandon Cox was available to take the reigns. In only two months the band had evolved from a few guys playing acoustic guitars, to a comprehensive 7-piece act.”
SlowCity: Your name leads me to believe you have a World Music sound but it’s really R&B and folk based so why did you settle on that name?
“The name Mumbai Standstill came from a news broadcast, where the reporter was describing how an event in city had '...brought Mumbai to a Standstill'. This idea of how something as immense and busy as the city of Mumbai could literally standstill was intriguing to us... plus we thought it sounded cool.”
SlowCity: Why did you choose the sound you have? What is it about these older, more traditional sounds that speak to you more than say electronica or rock or punk?
“Mumbai's sound definitely evolved as the band evolved, so it’s almost as if the sound chose us. We knew we wanted to be a folk-rock band, but realize that some of our songs deviate towards pop rock, bluegrass, alternative rock etc. Essentially, we just strive to write songs that we like to play and that others like to listen to. What we do like about the more traditional sound is the emphasis on lyrics and melody. These are songs that often tell and story and we always love when people are inclined to sing along.”
SlowCity: What is the dynamic for creating songs with so many players, do you have a central songwriter?
“Typically, songs are written prior to band practice and are worked out with the entire band. With such a diverse set of skills and musical backgrounds, you can really get the most out of any song by making its production a collaborative effort. Mark Givelas and Jamie Gallard are the band's primary songwriters, but everyone is encouraged to write songs to bring to the table.”
SlowCity: Tell me about the process for making your most recent album?
“Mumbai Standstill's first record Troubles was recorded at Ineo Studios in Uxbridge and it took just over a year to complete. We'd record on most Saturday nights, and would use the week in between recording sessions to develop production notes for the next Saturday session. We had a lot of fun in the process (perhaps a little too much fun) and we're definitely looking forward to the release of our second album, which we started working on this fall.”