Hello Operator revisit a style and sound that works
Tyler Shields Photo
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You might expect to find the boys of Hello Operator right at home speeding around in a DeLorean as they rock out listening to Girls On Film on the radio.
The GTA-based synth-pop lineup, fronted by guitarist/singer Mike Condo and keytar player (Yes, they’ve brought it back!) Evan Huson, are on the Canadian leg of a tour promoting their six-song EP The Breaks, newly released in stores. The disc is a respectful nod to the ‘80s, when well-coiffed boys in white blazers, pastel shirts and skinny ties bopped out keyboard and bass slap-heavy tunes, with a little bit of the ol’ screamo rawk growl added to keep current.
It would appear Hello Operator’s modus operandi has gone over quite well critically and commercially. The Breaks was a hit when it was released on iTunes Nov. 20, and previous work earned the band press handles such as “newsmaker” and “guaranteed breakthrough rock act.”
But it’s the fans Hello Operator is concerned about.
“We try not to think about it, we just try to do what we do,” Condo says. “We don’t let good or bad press try to affect our vision. We just hope everybody gets our music and likes it.”
Of course in the 21st century, when everything old is new again, why not revisit a style and sound that’s proven to work?
“We’re big fans of that decade,” says Condo. “We like a lot of new wave rock bands like Duran Duran, the Cars and Depeche Mode to Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses. We love the keytar, too. Evan can jump around with it so he’s not stuck behind a keyboard. It’s not a novelty for us, it’s pretty cool.”
Hello Operator don’t typically headline a show, but have opened up for some recognizable domestic and international names in industry pop, including Hilary Duff, Hedley, Simple Plan and Neverending White Lights. Of all the acts they supported, Condo says, touring with Vancouver rockers Loverboy was a major milestone in the band’s young and burgeoning career. Condo says front man Mike Reno was gracious in showing the boys the ropes.
“Yeah, those guys are cool,” says Condo. “They were really nice to us, and Working For The Weekend and Turn Me Loose are great songs. They’re also one of our favourites. It doesn’t get more ‘80s than that.”
See it live