OK, the Human Statues ain't no lead-pipe-wieldin', crack-slingin' hoppers spewing rhymes in their free time but they did start out on the street just the same. It all began on the streets of Toronto, playing to literally every demographic possible. Busking, the fine art of performing for strangers for pennies, is what the now-Vancouver-based indie-folk duo, comprised of Jeff Bryant and Zachary Stevenson, was all about.
"I'm sort of nostalgic about it now, looking at it from a distance having moved on to the next stage of our career," Bryant says with a laugh. "The truth is, it's not easy but nothing that's worth having is gained easy."
He says busking was the most direct way to get noticed, likening it to a live-action commercial. He'd been busking while attending the University of Victoria and both men had theatre experience, so when it came time to perform together, they mashed the art-forms in a bundle of indie-folk tunes that are part Simon and Garfunkel, part Flight of the Conchords and all raw talent.
While the seeds of these Statues were planted at UVic, it would be several years before they would collaborate musically in any kind of earnest way. It happened almost by accident, as these things often do. It could be called fate, or luck, or coincidence, but their careers had taken them both out east - -Bryant was in New York City while Stevenson was doing theatre in Toronto. Once Bryant's time was done in the Big Apple, he migrated to T-Dot to join his friend and they started performing.
"We were up for the challenge of finding unconventional ways to establish some interest in what we were trying to do," he says.
Instead of playing infrequent shows whenever slots at hipster bars happened to open up, they got down on the street and slowly worked their way up the chain through all the bars and clubs that Toronto indie bands on the rise eventually play.
"It's kind of analogous to playing guitar. If you start playing on a really nice electric guitar where your fingers just slide around really easily, and then you go play an acoustic guitar that has high action it's going to be disappointing because you haven't developed the calluses on your fingers," Bryant says.
"If you can get 100 people to get people where they have no shortage of things competing for their attention, then you've done something right."
The duo relocated to Vancouver last year because, Bryant says, "Last spring I realized, 'What the hell am I doing?'" Now, both Bryant and Stevenson are featured in The Buddy Holly Story at the Vancouver Arts Club while simultaneously keeping busy with the Human Statues.
They'll be playing several sets throughout the weekend as part of Whistler's Canada Day celebrations, starting with the ArtWalk opening reception today (June 30) and continuously throughout the weekend.