“Try not to make me sound like a douche,” bassist David Schellenberg says regarding the reasons why The Playing Cards have been inactive for so many months.
After five years of being a part of Winnipeg’s indie scene, the pop band has decided to take a break. Schellenberg is busy in four other bands, and guitarists Cole Woods and Alannah Walker formed Cannon Bros. together, pushing TPC into the background.
“With the Cannon Bros. it’s so much easier to set up for gigs and arrange practices since it’s only the two of us,” Walker says.
Their recent explosion onto the scene has garnered Cannon Bros. attention from local hero Greg MacPherson, and allowed them to open for the likes of New Brunswick shoegazer Shotgun Jimmie.
The formation of a side project can spell trouble for any band, especially when it’s condensed to just a duo.
“Initially, I was worried about what the Canonn Bros. would mean for my friendships with Cole and Alannah, not so much about the future of The Playing Cards,” Schellenberg says, noting that the group has been together since junior high.
Formed by Woods and drummer Rob Gardiner in elementary school, The Playing Cards eventually added Schellenberg and Walker and were complete by Grade 8. Woods wrote the majority of TPC’s songs, unlike in Cannon Bros. where he shares the songwriting duties.
Getting used to being a duo was a challenge for Woods and Walker, choosing to focus more on melodies and the bare bones of the songs out of necessity.
“Since there’s only the two of us, we have to strip our songs down,” Walker says.
“We can’t have one guitar playing chords and the other playing riffs - one of us has to play drums or keyboard. So the basics of
our songs have to be solid.”
Getting the idea for a duo from watching the simplicity of an An Horse concert, the two also decided upon a name that night.
“At The Lo Pub there is a cannon above the fireplace,” Walker explains. “Cole suggested we be called the Cannon Bros., and the name stuck.”
The duo’s influences include Pavement, Tegan and Sara and Beach House, and they’ve been likened to the Pixies on several occasions.
This summer they plan on touring to Montreal in the 1994 Chevy Astro (nicknamed the “Fever Weasel”) used for The Playing Cards’ tour last year. The two are also working on getting a grant to start recording their first album, and are playing various shows around the city.
But don’t feel bad for the rest of The Playing Cards. Schellenberg plays in Departures, Mt. Nolan, Like a Lamb and Les Jupes, which recently opened for An Horse. Meanwhile, Gardiner is involved in track and plays with Woods in Right Through.
So are The Playing Cards dead, or just in a coma?
“We will play together again - we know each other so well personally and musically that it’s bound to happen,” Schellenberg says. “It just might not be with The Playing Cards.”
Visit http://www.myspace.com/theplayingcards and http://www.myspace.com/cannonbrosband
Published in Volume 64, Number 27 of The Uniter (June 30, 2010)