The internet is full of surprises around every corner, and the age of YouTube has brought us some memorable “viral” videos. One of this year’s most shared comes from Canadian indie band, Walk off the Earth, with their cover of Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” at every turn (now at 126 million views and counting.) While the band continues to produce unique versions of popular songs, they have two albums worth of original songs and are diligently working on their major label debut in their hometown of Burlington.
While at Summerfest 2012, multi-instrumentalists Mike Taylor, Ryan Marshall and Joel Cassady dropped into the Experience truck to talk about Canadian vs. U.S. crowds, tips on making it in the music business and the YouTube videos that have caught their attention, too.
SEN: Two of your band members are credited with playing kazoo, amongst a bunch of other wonky instruments. Any instrument you haven’t tried yet that you want to?
Ryan: I can’t play the didgeridoo yet. They’re really cool.
Joel: I’ve always wanted to play the steel drums, I never got around to it. That’s on my list.
Ryan: Something on my radar is the accordion. I wanna try to bring the accordion back to being sexy and foxy.
SEN: You all are one of the biggest underdog stories of the year, creating buzz on your own that paid off in a big way. What do you suggest to other D.I.Y. artists looking to do the same?
Ryan: I guess the thing is that you can’t wait around for other people to do things for you. In the music business, there are so many awesome bands out there that, if you wait for somebody to help, all those other awesome bands are going to beat you to it. You just have to work your ass off.
Joel: Know that you’ve gotta do some crappy stuff. Everybody goes through some stuff that they don’t necessarily enjoy and if you can persevere through that, good things are going to happen. Maybe not right away, but eventually.
Ryan: Joel had to be a wedding singer for two years and then we brought him in as a drummer.
Joel: Wedding singer/adult entertainer. It’s in the past. [laughs]
SEN: You obviously got a lot of attention from YouTube and the Gotye cover. Any favorite non-music YouTube videos? (i.e. – David at the Dentist, etc.)
Ryan: I watch a lot of “Annoying Orange,” he’s one of my favorites.
Joel: One of my favorite one-off videos is “Goat Yelling Like a Man.” Have you seen that? It’s great.
Mike: We have some friends in a band that are YouTube artists, one is the Gregory Brothers. The other one is The Key of Awesome. Those guys kick it.
Joel: Back to the goat yelling like a man video, I don’t wanna give too much away, but there’s a goat in it and he yells . . . [laughs]
SEN: What’s on your short list of other artists to cover?
Mike: We’re in talks right now of doing a real happenin’ version [of a] Tom Jones medley. That’s in the works, but it’s not ready to debut yet.
Joel: I think it’s cooler to not plan it. Even the “Somebody that I Used to Know,” video came about pretty quickly. Whether it’s an old song or a new song, if it’s a good tune and it’s gonna work, it just happens.
SEN: What’s the biggest difference between US and Canadian crowds?
Ryan: The US crowds get a little more crazy than the Canadian crowds do. That’s more like where we’re from. I don’t wanna diss my own crowd, but sometimes Toronto crowds can get a little boring. Down here in the states, they’re pretty wild. In west Canada, they’re even more wild, they kind of have the US beat right now.
Mike: There’s a little bit of a pause before people, let’s say in Toronto, go nuts. They like to assess, evaluate and then they go for it. As where, they just fire from the hip [in the US] a little quicker and we like that.
Joel: I mean, in Canada, we do have to separate into territories like [Joel] did, west to east, so that’s good. We haven’t really been out east yet, they might throw fresh fish on the stage, I don’t know, we’ll have to see. Both crowds are great, any crowd is great, it’s all good.