The Livin' Art was always going to happen. It was just a matter of when.
It's hard to argue that fact when hearing the history of the band. The first spark of a connection occurred at a Saskatchewan residential high school. A promising athlete in a number of disciplines, guitarist Lane Argue was sent there due to the school's strict developmental ideas and focus on athletics. However, his first love remained music, and upon him hearing French-Canadian drummer Guillaume Lauzon's rock solid drumming while passing a deserted music room, the two quickly formed a musical partnership. However, this seemed to come to an end when both prematurely left the school and returned to their respective homes.
A few years later, Argue packed up and moved to Toronto to pursue a musical career in earnest. He played in a local band, The Sols, as lead guitarist for a year before starting The Livin' Art with hometown buddy Nelson Gorchynski on bass. The two recorded and produced their first album; a self-titled collection of instrumental folk/roots songs, better described as “journeys”. Acoustic gigs garnered a strong fan base and a growing group of collaborators - with the notable exception of a drummer. Thanks to social networking, Argue discovered that Lauzon had also moved to the city. They jammed several times but it wasn't until playing on their 2nd instrumental album, "Fire in the Belly", that Lauzon was welcomed as a permanent member of the band.
Bassist Hal Rodriguez took perhaps the longest path - born in the Philippines, he spent most of his formative years in Singapore (where, incredibly, Lauzon lived in the years between Saskatchewan and Toronto. No, the two never met and/or jammed under a palm tree). But one day, Rodriguez found Argue busking with his guitar in one of Toronto’s underground subway stations. He was moved by what he heard and they began talking, discovering a wealth of similar influences. They began jamming and formed their own acoustic guitar duo, Mother Science. When The Livin’ Art needed a new bass player, there was no question as to who it would be.
Vocalist Richard Howard has had a bit of a journey to the band as well. After spending his entire youth in Trinidad and Tobago, he moved to London, Ontario to attend music engineering school. After some moderate success with his band Staylefish, he moved to Toronto in 2010, assuming his performing career had run its course. Even so, for no apparent reason, on one inconspicuous day like any other, he decided to look at the musicians' Craigslist. And though it gave little hint of the band's specific sound, he answered only one ad.
Each 'first jam' (the first jam with Argue and Lauzon; Argue’s first jam with Rodriguez; the first complete band jam with Howard) has felt like a lost piece to a puzzle being found. And while the band's always open to an additional, errant piece that may be floating somewhere in the ether looking for a home, it seems the core of the puzzle is complete.
The guys both share a surprising number of influences and possess very disparate tastes:
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, Jane's Addiction, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, The Mars Volta, Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age and Rage Against the Machine all figure heavily into the mix. Inspiration also comes from blues heavyweights such as the Kings (B.B and Albert) and masters of soul like Sam Cooke, Al Green, Otis Redding - not to mention (sometimes even more so) the female power of Aretha, Janis and Betty LaVette. John Butler Trio, G. Love & Special Sauce, Don Ross, Xavier Rudd, Robert Johnson and John Frusciante help inform their more laid back/acoustic side, which they effortlessly slip into at their frequent house jams and smaller intimate gigs.
However, *any* rhythm is going to catch Lauzon's ear. Any stringed instrument is fair game for Argue and Rodriguez. And while opened up by rock, blues and soul; every word, spoken or sung, can inspire Howard creatively. The vibrancy of the reggae, dancehall and soca music he was raised on is always there - always peeking through. All of their respective lives are, actually. If you listen close enough.
So what's with the name? Well, like with their songs, the band loves nothing more than when listeners give their own meaning to it. But, to borrow from Gui's first language, you could argue it's a double entendre. There's the idea that with enough passion, your art comes alive - the artist and his art, the perfect symbiotic relationship. Another interpretation and the initial inspiration for the name, however, is why The Livin' Art will continue to pull artists of all types into their circle, driven by positivity and excitement for whatever may come. It's a single sentence, read years ago:
"Raise your living to the level of an art form, and your playing will reflect it."
- Philip Toshio Sudo
Live your art.
Band MembersRich Howard - Vocals
Lane Argue - Guitar
Hal Rodriguez - Bass
Guillame Lauzon - Drums