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Gentleman in Black

If you’re new to indie rock it’s likely that you haven’t heard of Gentleman Reg.

If you’re new to indie rock it’s likely that you haven’t heard of Gentleman Reg. That’s not because the Toronto-based singer-songwriter isn’t any good, it’s just taken him five years to release a new album.

“There are so many reasons," says Reg Vermue, about why he hasn’t put out a new disc since 2004’s Darby & Joan. “A main one was the dissolving of my old record label, Three Gut Records. That was a biggie.”

Just because his label disbanded, didn’t mean Vermue threw in the towel. He was forced to work the disc himself for more than a year, and when he finally sat down to record a record more problems arose.

“The actual process of making the album didn’t take that long,” he says. “Like everything else, it was the business. There were band lineup changes and I went through three managers.”

Luckily, Vermue — whose specialty is delicate indie pop — not only created the best album of his career with Jet Black, but he landed on Arts & Crafts, the venerable Toronto-based label that’s home to Feist and Broken Social Scene.

“Arts& Crafts and I have always flirted with each other and I’ve sung with Broken Social Scene a bunch of times," says Vermue, explaining why he signed to the label.

“And Kevin Drew (BSS singer and label co-owner) has always been a huge fan and supporter. So it was just very natural for me to give this record to them.”

What A&C got isn’t the usual Gentleman Reg fare. Instead of light poppy numbers Vermue turned up his amp and churned out a bevy of hook-filled rockers. The most memorable tune is We’re in a Thunderstorm, an odd, but unbelievably infectious chillout dance club track.

“The music is definitely more experimental and playful,” he says. “(Unlike on other albums) I wanted what was best for the songs and let go of my ego. I was open to admitting that maybe making the song a minute shorter is better for a pop song.”

As for the dance track, Gentleman Reg says that’s from a recording session with I Am Robot’s Shaw-Han Liem. The two created an album’s worth of experimental club numbers, but Vermue decided to include We’re in a Thunderstorm on Jet Black rather than this chillout disc that may or may not see the light of day.

“I wanted something really exciting, a little spark,” says Vermue. “I went through all my dance stuff thinking I was insane to think about it, but I found that one song that’s the least dancy of all the stuff I recorded.”

So now that his record is complete and his music has found a new home, Vermue must be feeling pretty content, right? Not so much.

"I don’t feel settled. There’s a lot of stuff going on right now. And I think being too comfortable is not necessarily a good thing, that would make me lazy, and it has the past."

 
 
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