On June 16th Hamilton band The Killjoys will play their biggest show in years when they perform on the TD Stage opening for Soul Asylum at Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival.
Formed in 1992, The Killjoys became a big part of the Canadian music scene with three albums under the Warner Music Canada record label. For six years the band remained active, having seven top 40 singles and touring Canada numerous times.
The Killjoys‘ released their debut album, Starry, in 1994 with the singles Today I Hate Everyone, Dana and Anyday Now. That was followed in 1996 with the release of Gimme Five featuring the singles Rave + Drool, Soaked, and Look Like Me. The third album, Melos Modos, came out in 1997 with the singles Sick of You, I’ve Been Good, and Perfect Pizza.
In 1994, vocalist Mike Trebilcock was nominated for a Juno Award with Antoine Moonen for “Best Album Design” for Starry and in 1997, The Killjoys won the Juno Award for “Best New Group” and a Rock Radio Award for “Independent Artist of the Year”.
After the third album, The Killjoys disappeared as a band. There was never an “official” break up. Band members – which also includes drummer Gene Champagne and bassist Shelley Woods – remained active in other music projects separately and with each other.
Over the years other Killjoys‘ albums were released including Onenight and a Morningafter (1999, Shoreline Records), Essentials (2005, Rhino Entertainment / Warner Music Canada), Hi-Five (2006, Rhino Entertainment) and Today I Hate Everyone – Perfect Songs For a Crappy Day (various artists, 2011, Warner Music Canada).
In March 2015, The Killjoys reunited to play a concert and have since played a handful of shows.
Music Life Magazine recently caught up with Mike Trebilcock to talk about music, the future of The Killjoys, and the Sound of Music Festival.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Let’s talk a little bit about your history. The Killjoys began in Hamilton, Ontario in 1992, released three albums under the Warner Music Canada label and toured numerous times. You guys disappeared in 1998. What happened? Why did you guys call it quits after six years?
It seems like a short time now, but a lot had happened in that six years (not to mention Gene and I have been playing together in various bands since we were 10 years old!) We felt pretty worn out by the whole thing, and we had different things musically that we wanted to try out. Constant touring doesn’t leave a lot of time for playing and we wanted to get back to that. There was never even an official “we quit” moment. We all just kinda went home and did our own thing.
During that time when you guys were active, what are some of your favourite memories and highlights you’d like to share?
We were really happy to have the chance to record in Memphis at Ardent Studios. Big Star recorded their records there, and so did the Replacements – two of our biggest influences so we were excited to soak in that kind of rock and roll history.
Who were some of the biggest names you shared the stage with?
We played with the Posies in Winnipeg, which was a huge deal for us. We also played with Green Day, The Foo Fighters, The Lemonheads, Matthew Sweet.
After The Killjoys “disappeared” in 1998, did you guys continue with music in anyway with each other or with other projects? In short, what have you guys been up to over the years? Have you guys remained in contact with each other?
We continued on. I released a solo album called Shield Millions and have an unreleased album “in the can” with another band I front called the Lo-Heels. Shelley happens to be the bass player in that band. I also write music for films (“The Friday Night Death Slot”, “Demon Weed”). Gene wrote songs playing guitar and fronting a band called Junior Achiever that went on to tour Japan. Shelley contributed bass on a couple of tracks for that. Gene is also releasing a solo album this year where he did the record playing all the instruments and recording it on his own. I’ve produced a number of bands as well and so has Gene. We’ve definitely been in contact over the years.
In March 2015 The Killjoys reunited for a show in Hamilton that coincided with the Junos. Where did that take place and what was that like being back onstage together again after so many years?
While the city was celebrating the Junos being in Hamilton, the Juno committee had many acts and events planned with local bands and talent. An outside promoter wanted to do something to celebrate and be a part of it as well, and asked if there was anyone the Juno committee missed that were Juno alumni in some way. Our good friend and local club owner, Lou Molinaro (This Ain’t Hollywood), mentioned The Killjoys, asking how we could be missed seeing as we WON in our hometown in 97! The two then collaborated on the show. It was a great success, and sold out. When we got together it really was as if time hadn’t passed at all. Our playing is a bit more mature as well of course, but it was like riding in a familiar old 57 Chevy.
At that point, were there plans to reunite the band again and play more shows? Or was it meant to be a one-shot deal to play that show then move on?
I think we all just thought we’d take it as it comes. We were happy to keep playing or not. Same with now. Although we’re really having a good time getting back together and playing again.
On June 16th The Killjoys will be playing The Burlington Sound of Music Festival with Soul Asylum. I bet you guys are looking forward to that! Will this be the biggest show for the Killjoys in years?
I guess it will be! The first Soul Asylum album was an early favourite of mine, and almost anything from Minneapolis, honestly, has our stamp of approval.
What are you looking forward to most at the Burlington Sound of Music?
Very much looking forward to seeing Soul Asylum. We saw them in the early 90’s but don’t remember much for some reason.
What’s your favourite Killjoys song to play live?
The whole set is sort of a big colourful clump of music, so it’s hard to say. I do love it when the audience knows the words better than I do though!
Who are some of your musical influences?
We are into The Ramones, The Replacements, Husker Du, Cheap Trick, Black Flag (especially Greg Ginn’s guitar playing for me), Eugenius, Big Star, The Sweet, the list goes on and on really!
Do you see the Killjoys fitting in with today’s music and what’s out there now?
I think that the music “scene” has never been more open to different genres. There really isn’t one thing that’s driving the ship at this point, which I see as a good thing. So in other words, I think there’s room in there for us somewhere.
Now the big question. What does the future hold for the Killjoys? Are you guys working on any new material? Can we expect any new albums and tours in the near future?
We are working on new stuff, and recording. An album can definitely be expected. We are working with a small indie label called Blacktop Records which is very cool. We’re working at our home studios right now and seeing where that leads.
Thank you so much for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to say or add? Now’s your chance!
Nothing more we could think of, but thanks!
See the The Killjoys live on the TD Stage at the Burlington Sound of Music Festival on Thursday, June 16 at 8:00 p.m. followed by Soul Asylum at 9:30 p.m. Admission is FREE!