When you’re a child of the ’80s, you can’t help but have affection for the kinds of feel good pop songs that make you want to hop on to a dance floor and kick and snap with abandon.
For Roz Bell, growing up in the ’80s meant having an ear tuned to shiny pop tunes, innovative rap, and the rise of grinding alternative rock. It also means he knows how to write the kind of songs that can be instantly fun and familiar.
Or maybe all the catchy melodies and sing-along lines that make-up his debut album, The First Sunbeams, are just a way of rebelling against the country classics his parents schooled him in growing up in his rural, Holland Landing home.
“When we were kids, me and my brother hated country music because you just never like what your parents like. We were into Hall & Oates, Huey Lewis and Platinum Blonde and the ’80s radio stuff that was so big back then,” explains Bell.
But through high school, Bell discovered hip hop, and the guitar, and also began to see that all those country crooners had something in common with him — they aimed to write the kinds of songs people can relate to.
“As an artist you develop and go through a lot of transitions, so I guess this is where I am right now with the pop and rap-inspired songs, and who knows where I’ll be in the future.”
Yesterday Man, the first single off Bell’s disc, is getting radio play and no doubt gathering him a bigger audience for his ditties about love and loss.
As danceable as many of Bell’s tunes are, he also has a way of writing simply sad lyrics like “I’m so lonely when you leave me,” and “I used to love her but now I don’t.” When they’re mixed with sweet “la-las” and handclaps, they have a way of sticking with you.
“Maybe the emotions are just something that people my age are kind of going through, yet we want to write these up tempo songs,” says Bell with a laugh.
“It’s great to sit with your guitar and play these really sad songs, and I love doing that, but it’s also good to see how an up-beat tempo can make people move.”
Roz Bell plays tonight at Zaphod Beeblebrox, 27 York Street. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10 in advance at www.ticketweb.ca.