The Relatives make you feel like family at Steve-a-reno's

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

March 27, 2013 at 4 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.

The Relatives are the kind of family you wish you could call "Uncle."

Formed as a three-piece five years ago in Victoria, The Relatives brings a heavy dose of classic rock-laden distortion, tongue-in-cheek observation and a bit of humor to keep listeners on their toes.

Frontman Nick Rogers took some time with Get Out to discuss why he loves The Beatles, his fascination with people on the margins and the story behind The Relatives.

When did you start playing guitar?

When I was 14. My parents got it for me for Christmas. My mom was probably tired of me playing her's. She was a country and blues singer, my dad was a jazz musician, and my brother was an opera singer.

Environmentally, I grew up with a whole wide range of music to listen to. When I turned about 11 or 12, I got really hooked on The Beatles. That opened up a whole new avenue of music. I was like, "I want to do that."

So, it was The Beatles that got you going?

Their first album. It was a commercial on TV, the "Red and Blue Albums," a greatest hits collection. I saw it on TV. I was like, "Oh my God, I have to get that. I have to listen to it." I ended up collecting their entire album collection.

My favorites change so much. I think probably their best album was "Abbey Road," their last one. It was an extremely solid piece of work. "Revolver" is another.So the ship's going down. You can only save five records. Which do you save?

"Abbey Road." Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." "Zeppelin 4," of course. That's a good question. Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Texas Flood"; Hendrix, "Are you Experienced." Is that five?

The thing about Hendrix is the more you listen to him, the more you find. It's one of those things you listen to and each time you find more stuff you didn't notice before.

Who are your guilty pleasures?

Dean Martin. I love Dean Martin. I do a not-bad Dean Martin impression. I probably won't do it at the show. I want to keep the crowd.

I got into him watching the Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin movies. He had a remarkable voice.

What's it like listening to the first songs you wrote?

It sounds less formed, less sophisticated, a bit more immature.

One thing is, I went through a long phase when I didn't play or didn't do anything musically. I never really got the opportunity to burn out. In the interim during that long period, there were several new genres and new bands that came up.

The most important thing is I'm older, so I have more patience.

What's the story behind the name The Relatives?

We have gone through so many names looking for one we can all agree to. I just thought it would be a funny: None of us are related. They seemed to like that, so we just stuck with it.

Essentially the band is a three-piece: myself on guitar and vocals, Mike DiSanto on bass and Mike Patek on drums.

We have other people come and play with us: Terry Easterwood, who's with The Mudcatz, DiSanto is also with The Mudcatz and Jody Cummins.

We can always count on Freddy Rosas to get on stage, too.

Steve Jaschke (owner of Steve-a-reno's) has been fantastic. He's got a great thing going over there.

At a family reunion, which relatives would the band be?

We would be the cousins that would wear out their welcome. The kind that make you pretend like you're not home when they're knocking on the door.

At this point, how do you get your creative process kick started?

Usually what happens is when I'm on guitar, it's the musical equivalent of doodling. I'll just run over some scales and play something, and I'll hit a combination that attracts my attention. Then I just start putting it together from there.

Sometimes, it's a short process, I can come up with something in a couple of hours, other times it takes days.

There's a song I've written and rewritten the past couple of years. The main structure of the song is intriguing, I want the rest of it to go along with it. It was originally called "Handy," a song about duct tape. I've changed the lyrics on it, now I'm changing it again. ... I want the rest of the song to be as attractive as the first part of the song. I just can't seem to find the hook I want.

Have you noticed that some songwriters have incredibly personal-sounding songs, but in the end, they're more fiction than personal experience?

Oh yes. I don't really write a lot of personal stuff primarily because I don't think anybody wants to bare their soul in front of everybody like that, cut themselves open.

Mostly the songs I've written are about the margins of society, some of the frustrated, some who are quite odd.

I've got a song called "Sweet Genevive" about a guy who's in love with a mannequin. There's guys out there in love with what they call Living Dolls - it's in line with that.

Do you feel drawn to the margins?

I find them interesting. It's a whole segment of society that people have the tendency to want to avoid. Sometimes, myself included.

They say and do things that leave you curious. They live a life in a boundary that most of us can't cross. Because of whatever reason, they see the world in an entirely different way than we do, all we can do is look at them and wonder.

"Thief of Time" was taken from an article Gabe Semenza did years ago about the homeless. One of the guys had accused him of stealing his time. Wow, that's just really wild. It's kind of a good dirty, distortion song, really faced paced. "The b - -ard stole my time, put it in a box and mark it with a sign."

Some come from direct experience. "She Said" is about a girl I met some years ago who had no short-term memory. This is before "Memento" and "50 First Dates" came along. It was the first time I'd heard of such a condition. I found that absolutely fascinating. She was telling me about it, I found out this is really something. "I said what is left inside your head, she said. I don't know but I think it must be dead."

That's dark. Is it easier to sing darker songs as opposed to whistle-worthy ones?

"Sweet Genevive" is kind of funny, it's tongue in cheek. Really, our best song we have is an instrumental called "The Surf Song." I didn't know what to call it, but being creative as I am--.

The newest one we'll play for the first time Saturday is "Simulacrum Man." Simulacrum is something that looks like something else, like when you see a face in a tree, or a figure in the clouds. It's more of a narrative. It's the person talking about a narcissist. if you've ever dealt with narcissist, you know that you don't really exist to them.

So, the simulacrum man refers to somebody who just looks like a person but actually isn't in the eyes of a narcissist.

Do you have a goal with The Relatives?

A lot of us have been playing music for a long time. We've played a lot of other people's songs. You know the originals were created because I liked the tunes. The band liked the tunes, and it gives us something different to play. It's for our own enjoyment.

What does the future hold?

We'd love to record. It's just a matter of time and money. As it stands, we're just some guys just having a good time. That's what we want more than anything, to enjoy ourselves and have fun. If something good happens, then that's just great. Honestly, I think we're too old for that.



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