Group’s plans for world domination no secret
anna keenan photo
Unlike their namesake, The Illuminati isn’t trying to keep their plans for world domination a secret.
In fact, the Toronto-based trio is trying to be as loud about it as possible. With their second release, The Illuminati And Their Cheap Powers, the metal outfit is planning a return home to the Silver Dollar, which, they promise on their website, will be more successful than their gig at the Mod Club a month ago.
“We had some issues with the guitar amp,” bassist Nick Sewell says of the gig. “We were wrangling to get it fixed but stay on schedule as well. We didn’t want to run the whole evening late so we had to cut our set short … I’m also saying this because it’s part of an angle to get people to come.”
Ah, manipulation of the masses; just one thing that the band does have in common with the ancient cabal of Freemasons that has been allegedly controlling the geo-political landscape for hundreds of years. Another is their obsession with the triangle, the strongest shape, Sewell claims, and the number three, matching the number of band members (all of whom are left-handed and play right, incidentally).
“The coincidences are weird, but I’d say it’s a human thing to look for patterns in this sort of stuff,” Sewell says. “Three is also good because there’s never a tie when we have to vote.”
Despite any democratically-resolved differences within the band, the fused thrash-blues-jazz sound that they envision remains communal. It was the pursuit of this sound that led Sewell and guitarist Les Godfrey to splinter from defunct rockers Tchort in 2002 and add drummer Jim Gering to form The Illuminati: The pair found themselves, musically, at cross purposes with their bandmates.
“We wanted to go in a different direction,” Sewell says. “We’re faster and more aggressive. In some ways we’re also an extension of Tchort: Same themes but more refined. We’ve learned more and we’re older. But if you liked Tchort you’ll like us. It’s like Earth before Sabbath, that’s the best way I can put it.”
Sewell names the standard sources as influences, hard rock, prog-rock, and most notably, attending a showing of The Decline Of Western Civilization: Part Two — The Metal Years with his dad (former Toronto mayor John Sewell). The documentary was polarizing, forever converting a 12-year-old Sewell from Huey Lewis and The News fan to a full-fledged headbanger (He still claims to listen to Huey Lewis, however.).
And yet Sewell names a more bizarre choice as major inspiration: ’70s and ’80s kids-show theme songs, specifically Dr. Snuggles, Hammy Hamster, and The Secret Railroad.
“There’s a lot of good writing in those short songs,” Sewell says. “We grew up watching those shows and it comes out in our rock … Someone once wrote, ‘Bad writers borrow, good writers steal.’ And we’ll steal from anything we hear. It’s also an unconscious thing.”