Torq's EssayNew York City in the summer of the year 2000. Amy and Evan had only recently decided to join “the band” although using that term to describe us at that point is slightly embarrassing because, honestly, are you really a band if no one listens to you and you have no gigs? But anyway, there were only 4 of us then. Me, Sully, Amy and Evan. We hadn’t become what we are now: a 6 member family, a real band with real drums and real guitars and real problems. I had made some money acting (brilliantly) in a Heineken commercial, and was throwing it around like Elton John on a bender, buying all of us whatever we wanted, trying to seduce everybody into going all in with this crazy notion that doing music together could be our lives, our living. So we were eating brunch in Les Deux Gamins in the west village next to Rupert Everett and his pug dog when Evan suddenly stood up and left the table. What was going on? Was he ok? Amy chased him outside and we saw them talking for a while. Evan looked freaked. Sully and I were puzzled and worried. Eventually they both came in, and Evan confessed to us that he had the first panic attack of his life and was about to get in a cab to the airport and leave this crazy mistake behind before it ruined his life. He had a ticket home, and he was headed to Laguardia. But something prevented him from doing it. was it Amy’s persuasiveness? She could charm the birds out of the trees if she wanted to…was it a sudden sense that it was going to be ok? Was it the songs? Was it love? Thinking back on it, in my opinion what kept Evan from heading to Laguardia that day was love. Love for music, love for the unknown, love for adventure…and love for us. So he stayed, and we carried on.
Within a year or two, Patty joined, and we were five. This marked the definitive moment when we became a proper rock band. After all, if your “drummer” is a beat box that you have nicknamed Stevie, and it constantly breaks down half way through songs, are you really a proper rock band? Pat’s presence not only made our sound bigger and tougher, it gave us permission to not apologize anymore. We were a real band finally, not a bedroom band. We were ready. Kind of. Because for the following decade or so, we cycled through a number of great guitar players, all of whom we loved, none of whom stuck. And then we met Chris Mccarron.
We call him dad, or sometimes narnar. We don’t know why. But what we were all certain of when he appeared in the life of this band was that we were finally complete. The guitar, you could argue, is the wellspring of any good band, and for once stars had gotten lucky. Chris brought virtuosity, and love, and a sense of humour so dry it made us thirsty. Suddenly we had a studio which he built) and showy amps (which he built) and top notch catchphrases (most of which he came up with). We had a calm, sardonic, Atlantic breeze blowing through our lives. And we were, finally- and for real this time, we swear- Stars.
But it’s not easy. At one point or another, I have to believe that everyone has written their resignation letter and saved it to drafts. But those emails never got sent. and I truly believe they never will be; and to this day, whenever shit gets scary or crazy or so annoying you think your head will explode, shouting “Laguardia” is a way of saying in our band that despite everything, you love it. You love us. You love them. You love the past, and the present and the future of this band. We love you, of course, the most. The ones who have taken us in. The ones who have stopped to listen. The ones who went out in the rain and watched us play. Never leave us, please. Because we will never leave you. No dashes to the airport, ok guys? No trips to Laguardia. Stick with us. We’re moving through this beautiful mess, together. And if you’re wondering “why a best of?” it’s pretty simple, really: because we are a great band and these songs deserve it. Enjoy the record, darlings. It rocks.
"This was one of the first Songs I wrote with Chris after I joined the band. I really thought it was a hit but no radio ever played it. Seligman says it’s because it was recorded in 16 bit. Then some Gwenyth Paltrow movie wanted just the music part of it but we had lost the masters. Classic stars. Greys anatomy named one of its episodes after it but didn’t actually use the song so didn’t have to pay us. Classic stars. But we still play it every show and I still love it. It was written for all the secretaries in Toronto. I remember being nervous when Chris and I played it for everyone but Evan got super excited and then Torq called me at my coffee shop job to tell me he loved it while we were mixing it. I felt pretty excited about the future that day. " - Amy
"I remember thinking this song was going to make us rich. that is literally how stupid i am. i do believe in what it says though, and i love evan's new order bassline more than i can possibly say. i remember there was a lot of argument about whether to shorten the title. i insisted that we not do that, which is lucky because if we had it might have been a huge hit and i would have grown distant and insular as i struggled with sudden massive fame, and then gone on to make a self serving 25 minute long solo album about how my love for jesus has made me a rich man. phew. lucky that didn't happen." - Torq
"another great guitar line by Cranley, and a mention of the unmatchably delicious frozen confection known as a freezie. being in a band has always been an act of revenge for me on the people who dumped popcorn on my head in the cafeteria in high school. i remember seeing my high school bully lined up in the cold outside a show of ours shortly after SYOF took off. it was one of the happiest moments of my life. high school just sucks. but love is even worse." - Torq
"this song is about a seance. it was written as my father was dying. i was hoping and praying that ghosts would turn out to be real, and they did." - Torq
"this song I wrote for my friend John Bil. He had a restaurant called ship to shore out in PEI but he had to move back to Toronto because he got cancer. He was the hardest working person I’ve ever met but also the best party animal on the planet. He brought stars oysters to every Toronto show. He was one of the best people I have known and he loved music. I didn’t want to write him a sad song, because he was so much fun, even though I was incredibly sad when we wrote it. Marcus Paquin really helped by telling us to extend the “nothing I can do” hook. John Bil finished his cook book before he died with a lot of insight into the fishing industry. Go buy it. It’s called ship to shore." - Amy
"do you ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" - Torq
"from our first album nightsongs, when the band was just me and sully. we made this song in a bedroom in brooklyn with nick zinner and metric living in the rooms next door. it was way way way way less cool than that sounds. this is a live version with another sick bassline by cranley (sensing a theme here) that made the song sound more detroit and less berlin. which is always a good thing." - Torq
"this song...is yours. sometimes when i sing it i feel like i'm doing indie rock karaoke in a bar on the campus of some liberal arts college in new hampshire. it's just a very simple account of what it's like to have loved someone, and then forget why you ever did. people find it very relatable. but i think it's the title that makes it work. everyone speaks of their lovers in the past, like they're not alive anymore. and in a way, of course, they're not." - Torq
"At one point all the guys tried singing back ups in the chorus It was hilarious. It didn’t work at all but my memory of that always makes me laugh thinking of patty chris and Evan all circled around a mic barking “YOU” I also love the bit where it gets quiet right before the final chorus." - Amy
"writing a song is a lot like doing sudoku; you have a single piece of it that you're sure of, and so you just fill in the blanks around that sure thing. i wanted to use the term 'baggage carousel" because it sounded whimsical and sad at the same time, and because i have spent an inordinate amount of time waiting at them. in the end the song turned into a portrait of someone a lot like me, but maybe even worse." - Torq
"we wrote this song when we were jamming in a windowless room in a derelict building in a rundown neighbourhood across from a hockey arena. we had no money, we had no record deal, we had no reason to write songs, but we did. it was always sunset, and the sun always set at 4 pm. we were in love with each other, and that's all we had. and we still are, and it still is." - Torq
"the first image of this song is a compilation of plagiarizing two scottish bands: deacon blue and the blue nile. deacon blue made one of my favourite records, titled 'raintown", and the blue nile have a song called "tinseltown in the rain". rain, night, taxis, empty rooms, final goodbyes, hedonism, the end of things; these are obsessions of this band. and this song is a banquet of our obsessions." - Torq
"just at the moment when the party is peaking, that's when you realize that you're going to die. so you go into the bathroom and look in the mirror. and you see circles....you splash some water on your face, and look in the mirror again. you're so much more beautiful than you can see. the party is emptying out. you steal a bottle of wine from the fridge and walk home alone. and the next day, it's raining...." - Torq
"this is one of several songs whose lyrics owe a lot to a book called "among the thugs". it's a book about soccer hooligans. i quite like the idea that even terrible people fall in love. and i quite like the idea that love is a riot: pointless, destructive, temporary and incredibly exciting. this and ageless beauty are the only times that mainstream radio fucked with us even a little bit. it seems like as good a time as any to say to those who run the radio, with all due respect and love: go fuck yourselves, you cloth eared morons." - Torq
"Torq and Chris hate this song but I knew it would make its way into weddings! They thought it was too positive but It’s a true story and I love it." - Amy
"there's a song called E=MC2 by big audio dynamite. it's a random litany of crazy shit that sounds like all the news broadcasts happening at once, set to a huge chunky beat and keyboard line. this is an attempt at an update." - Torq
"We were actually trying to figure out how to play “the very thing” but it wasn’t sounding very good so we just wrote a new song that turned out to be this. I think it would be a good AA theme." - Amy
"Sometimes I go to the dictionary and open it at random to help me write lyrics. I found the word “tattered” and I liked the cosmic help. Chris and Evan had written this beautiful music and I felt loads of pressure to make something match its beauty. I remember feeling a ton of stress about it and the chorus back ups don’t really make any sense but people seem attached to this one and it actually was one of our only big radio hits!" - Amy
"there is a parallel world where you are living the exact same life that you're living here, but you feel beautiful. this song is written for that second self inside you. put on your best clothes. call your best friend. get high. and dance." - Torq
"I wrote this song for amy to sing because she is the person i go to when i want to hear the truth. and because she's an expert at friendship. and because she knows what it means to hang on and hope. and because she sings like she's dreaming. and because she's the best. i love it. please sing along." - Torq