Forget compasses, GPS, or helpful Sherpas. From June 13–19 this year, Torontoist is here to be your guide to everything NXNE.
Doctor Ew and pals getting some outdoor exercise (he’s the guy with the chainsaw). Photo by David Waldman.
Doctor Ew is the musical moniker of the honey-voiced Drew Smith (get it?). On his debut solo album, Gadzooks, he creates beautiful, catchy melodies and harmonies, with at-odds song titles like “Dance All Over My Grave.” We caught up with the Bicycles’ alumnus right after he’d finished a rollicking set at a Magpie cover night, where the theme was “psychedelia.”
Torontoist: You just played Oneida’s notorious “Sheets of Easter,” followed by a cover of Kenny Rogers and the First Edition’s “Just Dropped In.” So, what condition are you in?
Drew Smith: I think I lost 50 per cent of my brain just now; six straight minutes of chanting “light” over and over. If you chant for, like, 15 to 20 minutes, you’re supposed to get into a whole other mental sphere.
But because you were playing pretty loud rock, that was yelling one word over and over, really.
Yeah—my throat hurts, my head hurts, and my stomach hurts, oddly. It’s pretty bizarre.
You’re billed as Doctor Ew, right? Because the NXNE site lists you by your given name.
Yeah, it’s Doctor Ew. I don’t know why they did that. I was gonna complain, but we can set the record straight here, I guess.
So, tell us why we should see Doctor Ew at NXNE, in 10 words or less.
Oh my God… [ticking them off] Because. I Bring. It. Yeah.
What’s your favourite Toronto venue, and why?
I’m into smaller venues right now—I like the Magpie, and the front room at the Tranzac, and the Holy Oak.
What about the Imperial Public Library—we saw you there for your album release, with the 50 River concert series.
Oh, yeah, that was fun! Good atmosphere, there.
Does the NXNE beat the SXSW, and why?
I have no idea—I’ve never made it down there, even with the Bicycles. I’ve heard weird stories about bats and drugs down there, though.
What, like baseball bats?
No, like swarms of bats flying around, and flying at somebody—and they were on drugs at the time, which made it much more frightening.
Swarms of bats should be less of a concern at NXNE, yeah. Speaking of swarms, who’s going to draw in the crowds and be the breakout act at NXNE this year?
Well, I always want to say the Elwins—they’re kinda big already, aren’t they?
They’re definitely getting there… You’re wearing their T-shirt right now.
Elwins 2012! Or 2011, and it should carry over. 2011, municipally, then nationally, and in 2012, world domination!
We’ll link to their Southern Souls video.
It’s the best Southern Souls video.
We think it came out just a little after our Southern Souls retrospective, or we would have included it.
I like Jennifer Castle‘s, too. [Smith’s own second Southern Souls session has just been posted online.]
What’s next for Doctor Ew?
I’m doing an R&B album with Matt McLaren—it’ll be an EP. We’re calling ourselves “Gentlemen of Leisure.”