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Edmonton Journal January 20, 2007 By Sandra Sperounes
Edmonton's Playboys don't need to rely on high-fashion duds to seduce new listeners. Low Noise is an ample aphrodisiac -- high-energy dance-rock bursting with jaunty guitars, infectious synth/piano melodies, echoes of the '80s and Jamie Star's sassy lyrics. "You're no novelty / No one-trick girl for me / We feel just the same / You'll never leave your man / There's no use pretending," he sings on Condescending, an anxious number with a chugging hip-hop/wrestling intro, thumping bass line and a sexy, squealing guitar riff. Sweet Talks segues into a Jam-like, jerky rhythm section while All We Need quivers with keyboards reminiscent of Bronski Beat's Small Town Boy. Comparisons to Montreal's Mobile are also inevitable, but the Playboys boast more skill, range, smarts and consistency. There's not a bad track on this album. Why aren't these guys huge stars yet?
Rating: 4 stars
Ed Magazine November 4, 2006 By Zoltan Varadi
Pop-Rock Playboys woo you with looks and sounds. Ok, we all know that shoes make the man- at least, that's what the old saw tell us- but what about the band? According to the showmaker, in the case of the Casanova Playboys, their fancy footwear will only carry them so far.
"I still send him ideas every single week and he kind of rips everything apart" says Playboy Zack Action of his first cousin Jonathan Fluevog, a music producer and son of John Fluevog, of the high-end shoes. "He's so hard to please. But we're still on the quest to make sure he's cool with everything".
Cool enough, anyway. Fluevog manned the control board for the Edmonton band's second indie effort, Low Noise, a slick affair of radio-friendly pop-rock on a funk foundation that- like the group- isn't afraid to show a little gloss.
"The Casanova Playboys is more about class" Action says of the band's penchant for dressing to impress.
"You've just got to go out and look good and be confident with who you are and the music you bring to the audience. The music itself goes well with the clothing we choose".
There is a strong emphasis on old-fashioned showmanship. If Zack's assumed surname "Action" didn't give away their ostentatious esthetic, consider the rest of their handles: Jamie Star, Joshua Posh, Mitch Magic, and Will the Thrill.
Part of the emphasis on showmanship can be attributed to lessons learned by Zack in the radio industry, where he's worked on and off since he was 15. (His most recent stint was as music director at The Bounce, although he's now devoting his time to the Playboys)
"We know that people's attention spans are very short nowadays. Anything you want to do, you've got to make sure that it captures the attention of everybody because there's so much out there that's just kind of existing and floating by", he says.
"I think The Casanova Playboys are definitely not that- we basically come out, do our best, and kick your ass. That's pretty much it".
Fair enough, but Action and Co. should take care not to garner too much attention, lest they fall on the wrong end of said ass-kicking.
It's a lesson they almost learned the hard way in Vegreville this summer when Action attempted to live up to both his and the band's name while talking to a female audience member after their set.
"We feel at the end of a show we have to go out and talk to everybody, you know?" rationalizes Action.
"But let's just say we had to leave the bar early because the hockey team showed up and it was kind of crazy".
If you like their style, the band has several gigs, including this Friday (with Detroit's Electric Six) at New City, November 11 at the Starlite Room, then back to New City on the 15.
See Magazine January 18, 2007 By Amanda Ash
The popped collar is a girl's worst friend.
Really, nothing implies shallow and pretentious more than a metrosexual male sporting spiked hair and a suave strut. But of course, like any stereotype, there's always the exception–and man, are The Casanova Playboys ever one.
"Clearly, Amanda, you're talking to a madman right now!" yells Casanova Playboys frontman Jamie Star over the phone as he relates–in some sort of southern drawl–how hot sex, as an influence, makes his music more enjoyable, and that if girls want to listen to some music by some nice lookin' boys, they better listen to The Casanova Playboys.
Okay, so by looking at The Casanova Playboys' popped-collar press photo and the band's tendency to rely on the horizontal tango for inspiration, one would say that the Edmonton-based quintet fits quite nicely into the presumed "douche" category. However, Star's reaction to his group's image seems to suggest otherwise.
"We wanted to give off that whole 'BOOM, we're here now, the potatoes are out of the oven' look," Star says animatedly. "We just wanted people to know that we're serious, and that we're here just for the music. I can't really explain it, because I have this constant concert going on in my head. It's kind of like in that movie A Clockwork Orange when the guy suffers when he hears music. That's like me. I have all of this music in my head, and I have to get it out–hence the record."
The photo of them walking in a fan and looking chic is just one of those moments that define the carefree energy that explodes from the pop-rock group. All joking aside, though, the personable and innocuous Star does hit some serious notes.
In between the unexpected giggles–which usually indicates something off-the-wall is going to emerge from his mouth–Star finds the momentary composure to talk about how the voices in his head translated into The Casanova Playboys' short and sweet (all songs are under three minutes) LP, Low Noise.
"When I was like eight years old, I always had dreams and visions that I would be a singer or something," Star says. "I know I was writing and drawing and very creative, and then I remember in grade ten that I was walking through a field and in my head there was this music video going on, there was this band playing. I don't remember much of it, but I do remember it playing very clearly in my head. And now that I'm 23, I look in the mirror and I'm like 'Ah! That was me!'"
As it seems, The Casanova Playboys really aren't that concerned with the image they present to the world, and if Star's personality is any indication of what the rest of the band is like, then everyone is just out to have some fun in his own quirky, ironic way.
Like in any good conversation's progression, though, comfort settles in and the truth surfaces, revealing the complete thoughts and intentions of the speaker. Escaping the topic of The Casanova Playboys' "playboy" image is pointless, especially since that's what seems to drive Star's everyday life.
"Really, that [photo] is just us–kind of," Star laughs. "When we took that picture, that's just what we all dressed like. My dad was a businessman so he taught me to dress up. I dunno, I guess it goes with The Casanova Playboy image. The image is fun. I really like the picture.
"We got that taken in Vancouver and it cost us like a thousand dollars," Star says. "We wanted to mold us a picture that looked great. We went through all of these photographers, and we were never getting that perfect picture. I can't wait to take some more!"
Edmonton Journal January 19, 2007 By Mari Sasano
Five local Playboys that can put Hugh to shame. First of all, I have to confess: There is a family connection between me and The Casanova Playboys. My kid brother Roy plays in a punk band called Chick Maggot,and as it turns out, Jamie Star, lead singer of the Playboys, used to play drums with them. Small world!
"Yeah. Roy's an awesome songwriter; that was a good time", says Star, once we realized what our connection was.
"Pretty much, even before Chick Maggot, I was in Awol and it kind of morphed into The Casanova Playboys. It was my brother, me and Zack, our drummer. So we moved to Vancouver and lived there and starved so we came back. It sucked, but I just went back and forth recording, until we finally finished Low Noise."
The experience of going to the big city humbled the band, but they have not given up- they're just going to be a little smarter about it.
"There's been talk about going back, but I'm not going back unless there's money sitting on the table. It's way better here . I'm realizing you need money. The three-course meal thing wasn't part of our lives; we were eating rice crackers and butter. It's good times, but there's a price you got to pay. And it was totally worth it, because we have a record."
Edmonton is home base for the band now, where they are releasing their CD and trying to get distribution. Star's talking about getting some polish to his performance, but they haven't abandoned punk rock altogether.
"It's weird, we're supposed to be this commercial band, but we've never been more do it yourself. To me, it's about music, going onstage and playing. The shows have been really fun, we opened for Electric Six. What's most exciting is the response- it's been ecstatic. Since before I was 12, I was that kid who filled scrapbooks with poems and writing.
"My Dad had a recording studio and it just went on from there. Casanova Playboys is just the next chapter. It's fun. Music's fun, and I'm really excited."
The Gateway January 18, 2007 By Bryan Saunders
"The way I look at it, a Casanova Playboy is a guy who has complete and utter confidence in himself, who doesn't care what people think. He's the type of person that the women want and the guys want to be. I think anyone can be a Casanova Playboy as long as they have that confidence. If you have a part you can play, then why not?"
Perhaps men should take this bit of advice on how to win a woman's attention, for these aren't just the words of just some regular Joe, but that of Jamie Star, lead singer for the Edmonton-based pop-rock band The Casanova Playboys. Something of a playboy himself, Jamie is an expert on all kinds of relationships.
"Keeping a band together is kind of like a relationship, except you've got four guys to handle," Star points out. "Everyone's always keeping score with each other, and making sure everyone's on the same level, the same page.
"In the past eight years, I've played in six or seven bands and all I've seen is bands breaking up, people leaving, people coming," Star continues. "[But] right now, The Casanova Playboys are in a pretty good state. Things are looking up, I guess. We're getting some promotions done, and quite a few prospects in the near future with the [new] album."
But things have not always been a bed of roses for The Casanova Playboys. Indeed, even playboys suffer their fair share of bad breakups.
"When [The Casanova Playboys] moved to Vancouver, we had an old guitar player who came with us from Edmonton. And literally three days later, he took a Greyhound home," Star relates. "He just didn't want to do it, I guess. It was too much of a change or something."
However, according to Star, if your relationship is on the rocks, things generally work out in the end—just maybe not in the way you expect them.
Before losing their guitarist, Star explains that the band's producer hooked them up with Josh Posh to fill the spot of a bassist. However, once there was a guitarist vacancy, Posh stepped in and the rest of The Casanova Playboys discovered that he fit the guitar role better.
Despite the misfortunes The Casanova Playboys have encountered on the West Coast, Vancouver still remains a friend with certain "benefits" to offer.
While in Vancouver, the Playboys performed at lots of shows, were offered a show with the Scissor Sisters (a gig they unfortunately couldn't take), and recorded the 14-track Low Noise—an album filled with original vibes, excellent sound quality and influences said to have come from "hot sex"—which is to be released in a few days.
Then again, the things that people love the most are, more often than not, right here at home.
"Looking back now, it's been so much better here," Star says. "I think people at the Vancouver shows judge music more. Here in Edmonton, people just enjoy it. I guess they take music for granted over there."
Questions for Beatroute Feb 2007 Interview with Jamie Star
What makes a lead singer talented? Part of it is being skilled with all of the instruments in your band. Josh Homme sings while playing guitar. Axl Rose and Thom Yorke can play piano and guitar.
Beyond that, another element is having the ability to write melodic parts for each instrument and making them blend well together. Trent Reznor is one of those rare singers that can also write, produce and play all instruments on his albums.
Nowadays, having the capability of carrying a tune and meticulously posing for a camera is all you need to be a successful lead singer. That’s why almost-famous Jamie Star is refreshing.
Star is best-known for his crooning voice with Edmonton’s quickly emerging pop/rock band The Casanova Playboys, and after watching him sing and play both bass and keyboard (yes at the same time) at a recent jam and then sitting down with him for a few Q&As, I realized that true musical talent still exists…and that he might be crazy!
Describe the process of writing a song?
Well, the music usually comes out through different melodies overlapping eachother and each sound is contributed by the player itself. Usually the music comes first and then the lyrics.
What inspires you?
Nothing really inspires me except what comes from within.
What inspired Low Noise?
Low Noise is basically all of the music from the last couple of years filtered and ready to please. Low Noise is my explanation for the noises that are in our sub-conscious that are put on low.
Any weird show/tour stories?
We have a lot of fun at our shows...It's so exciting to get all reved up before a show. Um, we went into a ditch in the mountains on the way back from Vancouver...I dont know...
What is your favorite album of all time?
I dont really have a favorite album but Incubus is a great band. I like Air. We are very collective with our music. Variety is the spice of life they say!
Are most musicians crazy?
Not all of them. I think I might be.
Are you crazy?
It's been rumored and said by some that I am and they could be right!!! (Laughs)
What is a day in the life of Jamie Star?
What ever life throws at me....
What is your favorite song on the album and why?
I like Out Of Control cause I really think the girls can relate....
When did your interest in music start?
I came from a musical family so music was always there. I think I started writing music when I was 10 and eventually by the time I was 13 I set up a studio and started laying all of my ideas down.
Can you record?
Yes. I set up my gear in my basement and recorded bands for extra money and of course myself. The point was to make as many songs as I could. I don't think I have ever stopped.
Do you play any instruments?
In this band I sing but I can play pretty much all of the rock instruments.
You've been a part of the Edmonton music scene and the Vancouver one as well! What is the difference between the two?
More people go to shows in Vancouver.
How did you get Ted Jensen to master?
The band and the producer worked together very hard to get our album mastered at Sterling Sound. It was a great thing to do.
Do you like playing shows?
Which show was your favorite?
They're are a lot of good memories. I couldn't tell you my favorite one. There are so many!
Is your name really Jamie Star?
My name is Jamie and my last name is a town in Egypt next to the Libyan border.
Really? What's your last name?
Salloum. It's arabic. But you can call me Star for now. Stay tuned. You shall see why....
That sounds promising.
Vue Weekly January 19, 2007 By Ross Moroz
Judging an album by its cover is, while a little lazy, usually surprisingly accurate. But I'll resist the temptation in the case of local groups the Casanova Playboy's new disc Low Noise: I mean, just because the band's members—Will the Thrill, Mitch Magic, Jamie Star, Zack Action and Josh Posh (I shit you not)—look like a bunch of weenies doesn't necessarily mean they'll sound like weenies, even if their skinny ties and stripy shirts and perfectly "unkempt" hair are writing cheques their middle-aged paunches aren't be able to cash. Note to cute, skinny, hipster teenaged boys everywhere: this is what happens when your "cool" uncle decides to accompany you to H & M. Take in a hockey game instead.
But on to the music. How to best put it in to words … Okay: you know Mobile, that "Montréal" (they're really from Toronto) "indie" (they're on Universal) band that is basically a bunch of greasy guys in their 30s offering up an overproduced, under-written photocopy of the real Montréal indie scene? Well, Edmonton now has the Casanova Playboys doing roughly the same thing.
There's nothing particularly unlistenable or offensive about Low Noise—if you weren't paying much attention, you might think you were listening to a woefully disappointing track by the Floor—but that's the whole point: while the ridiculously high production values have to count for something, putting some Joy Division-y synth lines and some neat syncopated high-hat over the top of mediocrity doesn't make it any more interesting.
(Note to reader: the journalist passed away nine months later...)
Vue Weekly August 23, 2006 By Eden Munro
The Casanova Playboys released their first album last year, playing some shows around the city in support of the disc. But, with their eyes set on the big time, they pulled up their roots and headed west to Vancouver at the behest of their producer, Jonathan Fluevog (who is, incidentally, the son of show guru John Fluevog, if anyone was wondering).
Singer Jamie Star recalls the experience fondly, with a hearty recommendation that any kid move to a new city after high school, though he admits that the benefits and lessons of the move were hard earned.
"It was a bunch of guys from Edmonton moving to Vancouver, to a really sketchy area", Star remembers.
"It was like being dropped in the middle of nowhere, in this one house among millions of houses with nobody you know around you."
The move was ultimately ill-fated, with the playboys' bassist and guitarist leaving. The band hooked up with new guitarist Josh Posh out on the coast, but they also suffered from ever dwindling funds.
"We were putting all our money towards this and we just became completely broke," Star says.
"We were starving and it came to the point where the phone company cuts us off and we couldn't pay our bills and we were like, 'shit, what are we going to do?' But we were still a band and just because we're in a different city in a fucked up situation, it doesn't mean the band has to stop and quit, so we just packed our bags and went back to Edmonton."
The next six months were a flurry of activity for the band as they saved money and traveled back and forth between Edmonton and Vancouver to complete their new album, Low Noise.
Star acknowledges that it was a difficult time, but says that it was all worth it in the end. "It was that learning process itself that got me to that point where I know exactly who I am now in my life," he explains.
"I am a musician. I've got to do the music. There's no other way of looking at it. I can't settle for anything else but being a musician, a songwriter. I just like creating songs."