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Global domination in the works

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WHO: The Planet Smashers

WHERE: The Boot

WHEN: Saturday, June 2

The Planet Smashers don’t want to destroy the world. They just want to dominate it!

The five-piece ska band from Montreal already has an impressive list of credentials – three CD’s selling over 50,000 copies, two European tours and a two month run at No. 2 on college radio charts – but the Planet Smashers just can’t sit still until they’ve brought their party to the rest of the globe.

"Hey, this is Kurt," cracks a sleepy voice over the phone. "I’m just the trombone player, but everyone else is still passed out so you’ve got me."

Seems the party has begun. The quintet has been on the road since mid-May in support of their newest release, No Self Control , an appropriate title considering last night’s antics.

"We’ve been playing a lot of all-ages shows so far," continues Kurt, "but last night we finally hit a bar and everyone went crazy."

And well, let’s face it, a little liquor, some bright lights, a kick-ass horn section and infectious melodies, who wouldn’t be tempted to give in to a little craziness? If the liquor and lights aren’t your idea of a good time, you can still enjoy the party in the safety of your own headphones.

Most ska bands will tell you the key to success is the energy at live shows. However, more than a few have fallen down in the recording department, failing to make an album that really captures that energy – and the listeners’ attention. The Planet Smashers manage to do both. Credit the band’s seven years of experience and/or the experienced production of Steven Drake (Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies, The Odds). No Self Control is, well, entertaining.

Lyrically and musically, all 14 songs tell a different story – albeit a short story. The average song length is about 2:45. This listener would’ve preferred to hear a little more from Hey Hey, but hey, many a wise man has offered the advice "quit while you’re ahead."

And what The Planet Smashers lack in length, they certainly make up for in variety, including a little punk influence on Blind, some rockin’ electric guitar on the title track, and Sk8 or Die is definitely a mosh inspirer.

The lyrics, too, are enough reason to give the CD another listen after the show. They’re real; they’re bold; they’re just plain funny. The song She’s Late is about exactly what you think it is. (Which way is reverse on this time machine? I shoulda thought first and used a magazine.) It’s Over is a quirky little number. Perhaps the aftermath of She’s Late? Contrary to any break up I’ve experienced, it’s smooth and dreamy. However, the lyrics are a rude awakening: ( Thinkin’ of your face makes me ill .) And then there’s Wish I Were American, a song which is bound to raise a few Canadian eyebrows, including a few in the band.

"I don’t want to talk about that!" quips Kurt. "Matt, (the band’s lead singer), actually holds it dear. He’s been hanging out with his parents in Florida. That’s where he got the idea for the song, sitting on the beach. Living like an American. People think it’s a nice groovin’ track and know we’re joking."

A short scuffle with the phone and I’m greeted by sleepy voice No. 2, Matt.

"We didn’t want to make the same CD," he continues about lyrical content. "The last one was party, party. This one is a little more personal. A little more cynical."

But do listeners of a "party, party" band appreciate honesty?

"I don’t think I really care," Matt laughs. "(Lyrics) can always backfire. But we don’t take ourselves too seriously so we don’t expect others to take us seriously either."

Often playing in Quebec to largely French-speaking audiences, it seems a shame that the humour of those lyrics might be lost. That doesn’t seem to concern the band. In fact, they’re very well-received in Quebec as well as Europe, where both language and culture could be a barrier.

"It’s tricky when you’re somewhere like Germany to say ‘Hey, how’s everyone doin?’ But once the music starts, it doesn’t matter."

Planet Smashers will be counting on that same attitude to carry them into a distribution deal in Switzerland and tours in Australia and Japan. The band has decided to hook up with Leech Records, the same label as present tour-mates, The Peacocks.

"It’s a little intimidating to trust your business to someone so far away," says Kurt. "But after years and years of knowing the Peacocks and the guy who runs Leech Records we’ve developed a good relationship."

And then it’s on to conquer another hemisphere. Culture and language aside, ska does seem to speak loudly to the party instincts on any continent. One thing it does not do in Canada, however, is spawn the title of Superstar. Perhaps this hunt for success prompted the ambitious tour?

"No, not really," says Matt. "I think if we wanted to make it big we’d just take out the off beats and make it a pop song or a rock ballad. Then we’d be big. Ok, maybe not. We just really want to get around and see the world."

Not many Canadian bands take the initiative to venture past Europe. Planet Smashers weren’t content with that, so they up and sealed a deal to open for Australia’s legendary Midnight Oil. And if that weren’t enough, the jet-setters will continue to Japan. Japan?

"We’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve heard a lot of stories from bands that have been there," laughs Kurt.

Obviously interesting stories since he fails to elaborate. Good parties aside, The Smashers must also anticipate some amount of success if they’re going to risk such a long – and expensive – journey.

"We do have some good offers over there with the new record," Matt says.

Any last words of warning or insight into the party strategy as The Planet Smashers set to invade West Coast Canada?

"No," laughs Matt, "I’m just working on getting rid of this hangover!"

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