The City Above: Heroes (just for one day)

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Steve Fouchard: “In the first year we played about once a month around town, but I think that hurt us if anything. You want every show to be special.”

There’s a certain mysticism surrounding Ottawa band The City Above. Here’s why.

On ground level, more popularly known as the grassroots, Ottawa is abuzz with bands, scenes and bars catering ably to music made by and for mortals. But at least one band in the city is more concerned with exploring an area slightly more elevated; The City Above (Ross Henwood, Steve Fouchard, Kenneth MacLean, Andria Lemmons, Sheilah Craven), by name and sound, conjures images of what might happen if superheroes were actually real. From their first LP (2006′s Mongrel Comets) to 2011′s Year of the Spider, and even in the brooding “lost tracks” 2012 release Sub Songs, The City Above’s sound seems comprised of notes culled straight from the ether.

“Certainly, before Ross and I were even making music, we were pretty tight as teenagers, and so horror movies, science fiction, comic books, were very much present in our lives, and so in terms of our presentation we shoot for that kind of feel,” explains Fouchard. “B-movies, exploitation, as well as the science fiction and whatnot – we’re nerds in many ways.”

“The name of the band itself came from a trip to Toronto, and we were staying in Vaughan,” he says. “Vaughan’s motto used to be ‘The city above Toronto,’ with an underline and parenthesis on ‘above.’ We really liked that moxie, that underdog thing. Unfortunately, Vaughan recently did away with that motto, but I guess it is sort of ours now. It evokes, I hope, that mystery that there is something going on [in the music]. One person asked a few years ago if it was heaven, which was a pretty cool interpretation.”

In existence for six years, The City Above have lingered beneath the radar for much of that time, yet, in terms of songwriting, the group have been rather prolific. Sub Songs is only the first of two albums to drop in 2012.

“There are two distinct sides to the band, one being the demos that Ross and I produce, which is just cheaper and logistically easy to do, and songwriting is just like a hobby that we do in lieu of watching sports or playing video games,” explains Fouchard. “We’re together twice a week, and more often than not come up with a song. Then there are the band recordings, and we were very lucky to meet Bill Guerrero, who hosts a show on CKCU and recorded Year of the Spider for us. In the first year we played about once a month around town, but I think that hurt us if anything. You want every show to be special.”

The City Above
@ Zaphod’s (27 York)
w/ Lion Farm, Street Meat
May 19
9 p.m., $8

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