Megative Finally Takes Form
Photo credit: Last Gang Records
Starting a band doesn't always happen all at once, and for Megative's Tim Fletcher it took years. After talks turned to music with friend Gus Van Go, the two finally formed the project they'd dreamed of. We talked with Fletcher ahead of Megative's October 19 show at House Of Targ to discuss their new album, making a live set come together over long-distance and why it took so long to start the band.
Ottawa Life: How did this project start and what did it give you that was different from the Stills?
Tim Fletcher: This project began around 2007, but really it started when I first met Gus in Montreal through my first band when I was 17/18. I was playing in this punk-ska band, and some of the guys ended up in The Stills. This was our first real band and we realized we needed a producer, and Gus was the king of the ska scene. We thought we could never get him because he was this mythical figure, he's larger than life. We went to this club saying "Here's our demo, we're not even legal to be in here but can you produce us." He was blown away by this group of kids coming in to ask him so he produced our band. We made a record together, and then years later in The Stills we were in contact with him and produced The Stills' debut.
Since you and Gus had been discussing this project for some time, what led to you finally doing it?
We always referred to the reggae and ska material, even when it wasn't cool. In 2007, I was driving with Gus somewhere on the West coast, and were listening to a pre-mix version of Combat Rock by The Clash. We thought the vibe of it was so amazing that we wanted to make something that blended our love of 60's UK reggae and 70's punk rock into something like that record. So we talked about it for eight years and it became a kind of "Yeah Right" situation as if it would never happen. We talked about it so much that we knew exactly what we wanted to do. At one point Gus's wife said "Oh yeah your band there, your reggae band, sure." He had this "I'll show you" attitude on that. He invited me during his busy production schedule to try and make some songs I had into that vibe. So we started doing that and the first three songs we made we thought were awesome. We made the record pretty quickly, and it's taken a year and a half to come out. It was this awesome, spontaneous record, and we just jammed these ideas out and made songs. What it really offers me that's different from The Stills, is a healthy environment to be openly creative without worry. It's also a place to follow first instincts and gain trust in our creative instincts. Your channelling the innate to yourself and the group. With everything that we do, we do it to make ourselves happy.
How did you want to explore addiction and vulnerability on "Can't Do Drugz (Like I Used To)" and why do you think so many artists sink into the pits it speaks to?
I wrote that song in 2011, for another project that I was in at the time. It had different lyrics so we wanted to rework it for Megative and give it a little bit of a different sensibility. I wrote that song initially in five minutes and it really just poured out fully-formed. I was feeling pretty anxious and overwhelmed, and I was reflecting on personal struggles. I feel like there are a lot of people in the world who are traumatized, and that song sums up the feeling of overwhelm that people who are wounded deal with. When I say "Can't do drugs like I used to," it's speaking to that inability to process experiences because you live from a wounded place. A lot of people are feeling soulless now from loneliness and neglect in a world that is increasingly speedy and chaotic. That song is really about human vulnerability in the face of all that.
Considering you had been in and out of New York to just get the record done, how did your live show quickly evolve last year to catch up and were there any surprises (especially considering Gus really hadn't been playing live for nearly a decade)?
We have a bit of a Spinal Tap issue with drummers, not that they'll spontaneously combust, but it's hard to keep one awesome drummer let alone two. One was living in Belgium, there's scheduling things but it's a lot of logistics to make everything work for all of us. Once we have that, it's just sorting out who plays what versus tracks we program from the record. A lot of the drum sounds are mixes of organic drums and samples from the album being played on a drum pad. Then with Gus, there's no problem despite not playing for a while. He's a great leader and diplomat, he loves bringing people together. It just overflows out of him, so mild-mannered Gus becomes Superman on stage. Chris and Jesse are really savvy in the studio, they've worked in so many different studios and have worked on Wu-Tang records, so they really know their way around things technically. Jesse was kind of the technical director, so he wanted to make sure we used the right technology while keeping things really organic. Then I just have to remember lines and use my delay pedal. Screechy just shows up and is spontaneity on the stage.
So where are things going next for Megative?
We're putting out our record in the summer and we're pushing back our tour until the fall. We'll have another single in the next month and so the next record will be out in the early summer.