By Jeff McAllister
The flaccid penis of Brandon Delyzer, one-third of Celebrity Traffic, hangs less than a foot in front of my face. Itâ€™s a Tuesday night; the band have just finished recording their first full- length LP, and weâ€™ve agreed to meet up for a quick chat, a preview, and what I assumed would be little more than that. But when I arrive at the bar, I run into Delyzer and Baker, the groupâ€™s vocalist, twelve hours into an all-day bender. In all fairness, I realize anyone whoâ€™s seen Celebrity Traffic perform live should have seen this coming.
Celebrity Traffic is the complete antithesis of folksy Victoria. The three- piece electro-industrial band that consists of Baker, Delyzer and absent bass player-keyboardist, Joel Mellish, is all about reigniting the rock star myth. The bandâ€™s debut EP, released just over a year ago, is steeped in drugs, sex and rockâ€™nâ€™roll. Now, 16-months later, both nothing and everything has changed.
The three are still essentially a jam band, meeting regularly in aÂ warehouse space a few blocks from where the band formed. Theyâ€™re still splitting songwriting duties three ways. But now theyâ€™ve got pedigreeâ€”fresh off a string of sold-out shows, including Shambalaâ€™s Rock Pit stage.
When asked what the main difference is between the currently untitled LP and the Celebrity TrafficÂ EP, both members answer in unison:
According to Delyzer, the LPÂ is an exercise in calculated spontaneity. While the first EP was recorded in justÂ a few days, this albumâ€™s taken close toÂ a year. Delyzer, then a poetry studentÂ at the University of Victoria, now works as a recording engineer at a local studioâ€”a luxury thatâ€™s provided the group with studio time and space. Not to mention that, unlike most bands who enlist engineers, producers, and studio musicians to round out their sound, this album is 100 percent Celebrity Traffic.
I first interviewed the band last February, while they toured their single, â€œSerena.â€ When I asked about Celebrity Trafficâ€™s artistic intensions, I got an unusually apathetic answer:
â€œOur musicâ€™s about a lifestyle. Itâ€™s about having a good time,â€ Delyzer said. â€œPeople used to go out to dance all the time. Theyâ€™d take the night off
to tango or waltz or whatever. I want to get back to that. Well, obviously not the waltzing, but that ritual of it; going out, letting loose and forgetting everything for a while.â€
To use the old clichÃ©, since then, the band has matured.
â€œThis albumsâ€™ about being in your 20s, growing up, making mistakes and laughing it off. Thereâ€™s a lot of Kerouac and Cassidy in there,â€ says Delyzer. Bakerâ€”upon whoâ€™s life the album is loosely basedâ€”responds with little more than a perverted grin. True to the hard-living, lady-charming, pill-popping protagonist of the album, heâ€™s more interested in beer than business talk. But, more telling than any answer is the way he winks at the waitress as she arrives with a glass of water and another pint. At this point, there are about six empty beers and six full waters at the tableâ€”but behaviour that would get anyone else kicked out of the bar, only guarantees Baker a playful grin and another round.
Musically, the new LP and Celebrity Trafficâ€™s first effort are a world apart. The EPâ€™s aggression is still there, but used more sparingly. The bandÂ flirts with lusher soundscapes, slower grooves and subdued arrangements. The boyish playfulness is ever-present: one of the tracks was played throughÂ a Sears amp. â€˜Wallflower,â€™ the albumâ€™s epic seven-plus minute closer was done in a single take in a studio full of sweaty bodies, flickering lights, beer-slamming and singing-along to whatâ€™s sure to be the bandâ€™s most anthemic song yet. The bandâ€™s influences have also broadened: agro-rock songs like â€œBusted Lipsâ€
are counterpointed with lighter pop; album standout, â€œStone Crows,â€ sounds more likeYeasayer than anything else. The jump from EP to LP seems lessÂ of a career goal, more of a necessity. Celebrity Traffic are a much bigger- sounding band. They demand the room.
But itâ€™s the charismatic apathy, I think, thatâ€™s responsible for the majority of Celebrity Trafficâ€™s success to date. They play because they like playingâ€”whetherÂ or not thereâ€™s an audience is just a question of more moneyâ€¦more beer. When askedÂ if theyâ€™d continue playing if the album flopped, the boys answer: â€œOf course.â€ Love yourself and others will followâ€”isnâ€™t that one of first lessons they teacher youÂ in grade school? Well, all grown up, the formula is still tried and true.
Sure enough, our interview disintegrates as people flock toward the two musicians. Friends come over to share a drink. A couple abandons the privacy ofÂ their date to come say hi. Baker blatantly hits on the girlfriend and is rewarded a round of shots.
â€œAre you even recording this?â€ Baker asks, now sprawled across my lap.
â€œI hope so,â€ I say. My iPhone blurs between the glasses on the table as the stack continues to grow.
And then, after what feels like minutes, but later turns out to be much longer, Brandon slams down his final drink.
â€œWooooooooo, letâ€™s goÂ shirtc*cking!â€
â€œWhatâ€™s shirt-c*ck-ing?â€ theÂ boyfriend asks; a horrified look spreads over his face as he pronounces the two final syllables. Then Delyzer rises to his feet, gives a wicked smile and fingers his belt. The night begins its downward spiral.
Jeff McAllister is a regular contributor to Renegade Radio. For more McAllister, check out: www.wearemosaic.ca