TTH and the Mysterious Seymour Stein

It was in Brighton, England during The Great Escape festival. Hundreds of bands were buzzing around the city, all of them trying their hardest to stand out, to maybe catch a break and ‘make it’ – whatever that even means anymore. The city was alive. Music pleasingly filled the air on every inch of the cobblestone streets at all hours of the night, the English Channel hugged the miles of picturesque coastline that went on for what seemed like forever. The bar was called “The Prince Albert”. As soon as we stepped in a familiar scent breezed through the room, spawning a flood of remembrance. It’s a scent that only a handful of bars in the world have. It’s the smell of history, of a timeless venue; of different generations, their sounds and ideals. It’s thirty years of the walls and floors soaking up sweat and beer and spilled whiskey, the blood dripped from fights and the lusting fragrance of hormones still sifting lasciviously in the air. It’s the musty smell of mold, cheap floor cleaner, the old wooden beams and broken guitar strings; the puke, tears, joy, laughter, epiphanies, revelations, and the ghosts of a thousand bands past and their infinite burning parade of songs and stories. It’s the most beautiful smell you could ever imagine, it says everything you could ever want it to say and takes you through the strides of a beautiful history. And in the end, when the ghosts of rock and roll surround you and willingly fill you in on all their secrets, it makes you a part of it, too – you’re a part of the history.

It was there that it happened.

We did sound-check, sat around for a bit with a few pals and waited to go on. The bar owner, Billy – an excessively intense, say what’s on his mind kind of guy – approached us. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but…” he said in that fantastic British accent they all have. He leaned forward and grabbed us both by the shoulders, a life’s worth of anticipation hinging on his next words. “SEYMOUR F#$KING STEIN IS HERE!”

“Oh really?” Bruce and I answered simultaneously. Billy’s eyes were glowing, his face exuded all the contentment a man would ever need. He pranced away like a child off to bed on Christmas Eve.

“Who’s Seymour Stein?” I asked Bruce.
“I was gonna ask ya the same thing,” he responded.

With a packed bar and the mysterious Seymour Stein lurking somewhere in the crowd, we started our set. The show couldn’t have gone any better. It was our last gig in the UK and we wanted to sweat out every last drop of energy left in us. The room was full, the applause seemed fit for royalty, everything went the way you always hope it does. Afterwards, it seemed as though everyone in the bar wanted to buy us a drink. Beer, whiskey, shots and whatever else found our hands and stomachs. There was no possible way we could consume the entirety of it. We wished we could teleport over all our alcoholic Cape Breton pals to help us put a dent in it. Our friends from Finland, who we met the day before, were there. They told us about their plans to bring us to their country, how beautiful the women were there. We sat off in the corner discussing plans with our new allies, adrenalin from the show still in us, enthusiasm for the future filling our faces with smiles.

The door burst open and Billy rushed through. “There you are you bloody f@*king idiots!” he yelled in his think British brogue. “SEYMOUR F@#KING STEIN IS WAITING UPSTAIRS TO MEET YOU!”
“Is he?” I asked.
“GET UP THERE…NOW!” He roared.

Judging from the urgency in Billy’s voice, we figured we should probably go meet this mysterious Seymour Stein. We politely told our Finnish friends we’d be back shortly and excused ourselves from the table. We had no idea who Seymour Stein was, but from the way things were going, it sounded like he was at least more important than a pack of Maple Leaf hot-dogs.

We followed Billy up the stairs as he ranted. “I was looking all over the god damned bar for the last forty-five minutes to find you fools,” he scolded. We apologized profusely, as Canadians do in most situations, especially when getting yelled at.

We reached the top of the stairs and Billy pointed down a hallway. “There he is,” he whispered. A man stood by himself leaning against the wall with a cane in hand. He was bald with a little bit of white hair still holding on. He was old, probably older than any tree I’ve ever seen – maybe older than any tree on the planet. And then I realized. I realized Billy’s excitement, the reason for the excessive exuberance.

“Bilbo…” Bruce uttered quietly to himself.

Seymour Stein was the guy who played the old (very old) version of Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of The Rings trilogy. We were coming face to face with a man who stood side by side on the silver screen with the likes of Rudy and Elijah Wood! ‘Holy sweet Jesus’ I thought to myself. Billy pushed us towards him like a friend at a teen dance urging on a nervous buddy to talk to a girl he likes.

“Uhhh… how’s she goin’, Seymour?” I asked.
“Wonderful,” he responded.

I shook his hand softly, as softly as I could so not to break his age old, ancient and weathered Hobbit fingers. We introduced ourselves, told him we were from Nova Scotia. He said that he loved Halifax, that every time he’s there he orders lobster when he eats out. Before then I never met anyone who could afford to order a lobster at a restaurant, but hey, this was Bilbo Baggins, he could probably afford dessert, too!!!

“I just wanted to stick around to meet you and say that I really enjoyed your show. You have a really full sound and a lot of energy,” he said.

That was pretty cool to hear, especially coming from the mouth of Bilbo Baggins.
“Thanks so much, sir,” we told him.

He asked if he could have a copy of our album and said that he was very interested in hearing it. We gave him a copy and he thanked us. He was very kind, as Hobbits typically are. I wondered if maybe he was still in touch with AEROSMITH’S DAUGHTER, the pretty Elven Princess with the big lips from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That would be cool if he let her hear it! And maybe she could pass it on to her father, AEROSMITH HIMSELF, who could maybe get us a slot opening for his band, AEROSMITH. My mind was abuzz.

We chatted for a little bit and talked about standard things that you’d say to a famous and incredibly old Hobbit. He eventually said that he had to get going. We shook hands, softly, and walked him to the door. He waddled off into the night, cane held tightly in one hand and CD in other – who knew what adventures he’d find, what quests through magical lands he’d embark on?

We walked downstairs, impossibly large grins on our faces. Neither of us could believe we just got to hang out with a big celebrity like Bilbo Baggins. Harrison Ford once accidently stepped on my cousins foot at a bar and JFK asked my grandmother out on a date, but I personally haven’t had many run ins with a celebrity as big as Bilbo.

We felt pretty good: we just met Bilbo Baggins, we played a great show to a great crowd, we were in England and had a table full of drinks in front of us. Not too shabby, wha? We sat back down. “Look up what other movies he was in,” I asked Bruce. Bruce, being the technological wizard that he is, whipped out his state of the art smart phone, tapped into the bar’s Wifi source and began surfing the net with such mastery and grace that you’d swear he was a young Gandalf the Grey, soon to be the leader of The Fellowship of the Ring.

“Uhh… it looks like he didn’t play Bilbo at all!” Bruce said, dejected.
What did he mean? How was this possible? My heart sank.
“But…but…” I stuttered

Bruce showed me the screen. Although older than any tree I’ve ever encountered, although friendly as a real life Hobbit, Seymour Stein was not the man who played Bilbo Baggins. Seymour Stein was in fact one of the most important and influential people in the entire music industry. He was the Vice President of Warner Bros Records, the President of Sire Records and had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He discovered and signed Madonna, The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, The Smiths and a whole pile of other world famous bands, so we discovered.

“Huh… never woulda guessed that,” I said to Bruce.
“Nice fella though, eh?” Bruce replied.
“Couldn’t get any nicer.”

And so it was in Brighton, England, at a bar called The Prince Albert that Seymour Stein, the guy who signed The Ramones, Madonna, The talking heads, and a long list of some of the world’s most famous bands, stuck around for 45 minutes to meet us two Cape Bretoners who thought he was Bilbo Baggins. The people you meet sometimes, eh?



Here’s a picture of Bilbo Baggins on the left and Seymour Stein on the right. I know we’re stupid, but we weren’t that far off, right!?
Bilbo Small ImageSeymour





Also, In case you were wondering, this is what Madonna’s Parents look like:
Madonna's Parents

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2014 Year in Review: The Best of the Best

Hello good friends. As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at the year that was. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a successful year and want to thank each and every one of you for all the support along the way. You’ve listened to our music, came to our shows, watched our videos, gave us places to sleep, made us delicious meals and provided great company. In the last year we released our record in Europe, played in Iceland, Germany, Austria, Scotland and all across Canada. We won 5 Music Nova Scotia Awards and 2 East Coast Music Awards, and played with a lot of great bands from around the world. To sum it all up, we want to hand out some awards of our own to some very deserving recipients.

Nicest Person in the World

Question: In what circumstances does an opening band end up with 15-year-old Scotch in one hand and incredibly delicious “Caramel Explosion” Fudge in the other?
Answer: When playing with Matt Andersen.

In addition to being one of the most talented performers on the planet, the incomparable Matt Andersen is also one of the nicest fellas around. He gave us Scotch, Fudge, Sandwiches, fresh Carrot sticks, and let me play his sweet acoustic guitar. He instantly makes you feel like you’ve known him your whole life. Small town New Brunswick kindness certainly hasn’t left Mr. Andersen since becoming one of the most well known artists in Canada. Props to that, Matt, you certainly deserve this one!
Runners Up: Bruce’s Mom, Kailash Satyarthi, Mike’s Mom, Kevin Vickers

Best New Best Friends

Here’s a picture of us and “The Killers” backstage after we played together in PEI. In the background, the mountainous desert terrain of Charlottetown quietly peers over our newfound friendship.
Best New Best Friends

Best New Fan

She knew all the words to “Berlin Wall”
Best New Fan

Best German Group Choreographed Dance Sequence to a Town Heroes Song While Wearing Pink

Their routine for “New York City” was unreal
Good times!

Best Flight

We were lucky enough to get on the Inaugural flight for Europe Airpost out of Halifax. There was food on the plane, it landed safely, and, to top it all off, at the end of the flight we were awarded with a Diploma. I dropped out of university after 2 years in order to pursue music. Now, if music happens to fail me, I have this prestigious Diploma from Europe Airpost to fall back on.

Below, Bruce can’t contain his excitement after arriving in Glasgow and receiving his Diploma.
Happy Bruce

Best Show We Played

We played some pretty incredible shows this year. From playing with our Best New Best Friends “The Killers” in PEI, opening for “The New Pornographers” at the Canadian Beach Volley Ball Championship, to our showcase at Iceland Airwaves. But, we’re going to stick close to home and give this award to our final show at The Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street. Can’t ask for much more than a sold out room, a billion friends, crowd-surfing, two of our favourite bands opening – Floodland and Scrapes – and the entire bar singing along to our songs – all at our favourite venue in the city a few days before it closes. GOOD TIMES!
Seahorse Tavern

Best Band We Saw

Playing festivals and shows in various places in the world gives us the opportunity to see a lot of bands. In Vienna, we got to see talented Swedish sisters, First Aid Kit. Their harmonies, catchy pop songs, musicianship and funny banter between songs blew the entire crowd away. Check them out if you haven’t yet!
Honourable mention:
Hector Bizerk – a Scottish Hip Hop group with one of the best drummers around
Go Go Berlin– like Kings of Leon when they were cool

Facebook Status of the Year

This honour goes to our friend and the talented drummer of “Alert the Medic”, Dale Wilson. With his post: “I think Access Nova Scotia is the least accessible place in Nova Scotia”, he takes the cake for Facebook Status of the Year. Have you ever been to Access Nova Scotia? Truer words have never been spoken. NEVER!

Best Cat on the Beach

This guy! His name is Stevie! Hi Stevie!
Stevie on the Beach

Best Guest Performer

At the opening for the new Halifax Central Library, mayor Mike Savage joined us on stage to belt out some classics. Below you can see Mr. Savage “owning the moment” as he lets the music surge through him and sings the classic Rage Against the Machine song, “Killing in the Name Of”. His version of “Love Rollercoaster” by RHCP was also spot on.
Mayor Mike Givin' er

Some Local Songs From 2014 You Should Listen To:
Telephones – Mo Kenney (Written by Mardeen)
The Weight of it All- Kim Harris
Up the Mountain- The Stanfields
Burned in Effigy- The Motorleague
South America- The Meds
Climbing Up the Walls- Carleton Stone
Twice as Nice- The Mike Bochoff Band
Towns- Pretty Archie
Strong One- Gloryhound

Happy New Year, pals! We’re doing preproduction for our new album and will be recording it next month. We can’t wait for everything in 2015. Much love to y’all.
TTH

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Town Heroes load up on Music Nova Scotia Awards

TownHeroeswin

(excerpt from THE CHRONICLE HERALD article)

True to their name, the Town Heroes triumphed at the Music Nova Scotia Awards Sunday inTruro.

The Cape Breton duo of Mike Ryan and Bruce Gillis picked up five crystal trophies at the Music Nova Scotia Music and Industry Awards Brunch at the Holiday Inn Truro for their second album Sunday Movies. Their honours include the fan-voted entertainer of the year, as well as group and rock recording of the year for Sunday Movies, video of the year for Holdin’ Up Grants (directed by Dillon Garland) and digital artist of the year.

“We’re doing pretty well for a couple of idiots,” grinned Ryan, who was glad both of their moms had made the trip down from Cape Breton for the event.

“We want to thank our parents who inspired us to work hard and do our best. We just want to represent Cape Breton and Nova Scotia wherever we go.

“This is the best day of our lives so far.”

It turned out to be a good day overall for the band’s label and management company GroundSwell Music, which saw several other awards go to its artists. Singer-songwriter Carleton Stone, who had five nominations, saw his Howie Beck and Jason Collett-produced album Draws Blood named recording and pop recording of the year, while the Stanfields picked up folk recording of the year for its unplugged album For King and Country.

GroundSwell itself earned a pair of industry awards; founder and Rawlins Cross member Ian McKinnon was named manager and industry professional of the year.

Here is a link to the full article.

Photo by David Hodges

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A Brief History of Austria

Well, we’re back from another jaunt around the globe via the beautiful Austria and Germany. We love keeping all you INTERNETLAND STUDS up to date and informed on the places we’ve been. So, here you go. (Since we’ve been to Germany a couple times already, you can read all about us eating disgusting raw fish here: Fun Times in Germany)

A BRIEF HISTORY OF AUSTRIA

Austria is a country with a population of 8.5 million people. 44% believe in God and trains are very fast there. No one knows if there is a correlation between the two. The Sewing Machine was invented by Austrian Josef Madersperger.

World War 1 was started when modern day Glaswegian indie-dance rock band, Franz Ferdinand, went back in time to pose as an Austrian Archduke and was ultimately assassinated. From my understanding of the situation, various parties were incredibly angered that their grandkids would not be able to dance to the upbeat jam “Take Me Out” in the future. Thankfully, the song was salvaged.

The Most famous people from Austria are:
1. Mozart
2. THE TERMINATOR
3. Hitler *
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger
5. Sigmund Freud

* They are not proud of this fact.

In the entertaining documentary “Terminator 2”, famed Austrian, THE TERMINATOR, is shown in his quest to save a young boy, John Connor, from assassination. To this day, it is said that no human being has watched this heart-wrenching documentary without shedding tears. I know I have.

THE TERMINATOR is married to Maria Shriver – the niece of the 35th President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated November 22nd, 1963 at the age of 46. Coincidentally, 32 years later in the year 1995, John Connor was saved from his own assassination by THE TERMINATOR himself (full circle). This may be almost impossible to fathom, but believe it or not people, at this time, THE TERMINATOR was ALSO 46 years of age!!! I don’t know what this means, or the bearing it has or will have on mankind as a whole, but I’d be willing to venture that if more Austrians were aware of this astonishing fact and correlation, the percentage of believers in the Big Fish up in the sky that I mentioned earlier, would skyrocket!

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, was the son of a wool merchant and also, his mother. A notorious advocate for snorting as much nose candy as possible, Freud only visited the U.S. once in his life. On this trip to New York City, it was quoted at the time by an unknown source that… “Freud and Carl Jung are some badass motherf$@#ers. Those nerdy, old dudes know how to party. I haven’t seen that much blow since the dawn of 80’s hair metal… which, still hasn’t happened yet… so yep… haven’t seen that much ever!”

Vienna, the capital of Austria and also known as “The City of Dreams”, is said to have its architecture based around that of my own hometown of Inverness, Cape Breton. The similarities are astonishing. It contains the oldest zoological garden in the world, the world’s largest emerald, and, from this writers own personal experience, zero clowns.

50.8% of Austrian males are overweight and the country has the highest per-capita Nobel Prize winning percentage. Each Austrian mentioned in this article has been a recipient of a Nobel Prize, including THE TERMINATOR for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Famous Austrian and Recipient of The Nobel Peace Prize, THE TERMINATOR
TheTerminator

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(Un)official Bio

A most crucial component for every artist is their written biography. This gives people an idea of what the group sounds like, who they are and what they’ve done. After reading one, people should have a generally clear idea of what the band is all about. However, when seeing a bio on a webpage or in a press kit, people are typically seeing something that’s been edited, revised, rewritten and edited again. To see our “official” bio, you can click on the “Info” link up above. But, to let you all in on what could have been, here’s some writing and information that didn’t quite make the final cut.

The Town Heroes: Unofficial Artist Bio

Cape Breton’s answer to Chumbawamba, The Town Heroes sound like a cross between the lovechild of Dwight Yoakam and DMX (if men could have babies and this particular baby grew up in small town rural Eastern Canada listening to classic rock records) and The Silver Surfer. Members Mike Ryan (Inverness) and Bruce Gillis (Mabou), have been playing music in bands for the last ten years – three of which they have no recollection of. Both have never flown in a helicopter.

The Town Heroes are like an unforgettable and vivid dream of Wayne Rostad’s (On the Road Again) faultless moustache tickling you in all the right places; like the unwavering and soothing tones of Bruce Frisko’s flirtatious Live at 5 banter with the incomparable weather queen, Cindy Day; like a wild donair running free through the open wilderness before it’s caught, butchered, mutilated and put on a giant spool of spinning meat in the pizza shops of Halifax for incredibly inebriated twentysomethings to order at 3 in the morning to cap of a night (and add to the already lengthy list) of poor life decisions beforehand.

Inspired by Steve Yzerman, the hit T.V. series “Life Goes On” and thick sandwiches, TTH have carved a unique spot for themselves in the world of competitive Ball Hockey. To this day, no other band has defeated them in a match. Their overall record is 0-0.

In the year 2000, 4 months after the world DIDN’T end at midnight on New Year’s Eve when the clock struck 12:00 and VCRs and Packard Bell Computers were SOMEHOW able to realize it wasn’t 1900 (thank God!!!) and self-destruct by creating inadvertent time machines taking themselves back in time to an age in history where they were yet to exist and would therefore implode due to this horrific fluke of nature/man/science, Bruce Gillis received an 8.1 ranking on HOT OR NOT. Shortly after this, he began working at the Mabou Convent – mowing lawns and preparing piping hot King Cole Tea for nuns. In addition to developing a love for the ol’ King Cole, it was there, between the lawn mowing and forcefully non-abrasive chats with incredibly old women that Gillis first began listening to Much Music’s mish-mash of hip and cool songs of the time on their much celebrated “Big Shiny Tunes” records. This was to lay the foundation for all things BRUCE GILLIS.

On Halloween night in 1994, while dressed up as Michelangelo from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mike Ryan had his treats stolen by an older assailant dressed as Yogi Bear. This event heavily influenced Ryan’s musical career. “I had a lot of good candy in that bag. I even had a full, big bag of Roast Chicken chips! That’s something ya hardly ever get on Halloweens. I was distraught. I had no idea how to carry out the rest of my days. I thought my life was over. Not long after this horrific event, I picked up a guitar for the first time. All the pent up energy, anger and heartache inside of me began to spill out. It was an avenue to ease the pain of a fractured childhood.” With a means to escape the horrors of that night and the turmoil it brought him, Ryan’s guitar playing flourished. Although, this isn’t to say it was behind him. “I still feel the pain of that night, sometimes waking up in a cold sweat with the vision of Yogi Bear ripping the delicious candy out of my hands. And the thing is, when it happened, being dressed as Michelangelo, I obviously had a set of nunchucks with me. I watched enough Van Damme movies in my life to consider myself fairly competent with most martial arts weaponry. But… I didn’t react. I could have doinked Yogi Bear upside of the head and kept my delicious treats… and who knows what would have happened if I got to dive into that big bag of Roast Chicken chips and various other tasty snacks. But I didn’t. I can’t allow that to happen ever again.” From then on out, Ryan had a new lease on life – no opportunity would surpass him. Legend has it, that if you look hard enough, you’ll see that most Town Heroes songs have underlying themes about losing delicious treats on Halloweens night. YOU be the judge.

In 2014 while in Scotland, The Town Heroes ate Haggis.

The band’s goal is to have a blue checkmark beside their name on social media sites, have THE ROCK follow them on Twitter, to play on the TITANTIC 2, and to save humanity from most evils. Both members have been defecated on by birds at various times in their lives.

The most famous people to have copies of Town Heroes CDs, are: Jack White, Phillip Glass and Donald Driver (NFL Star and winner of Season 14 of Dancing with the Stars)

Notable Quoes:
“The Town Heroes are good!” – Mike Ryan, Lead Vocals and Guitars for The Town Heroes
“Not my cup of tea!” – Harry O. MacDougall’s opinion of the band as stated at “The Hoff”, 2011
“The Town Heroes are like a warm river of David Hasselhoffs flowing softly against our lean and attractive German Bodies.” – Random German girls (rough translation)

A shot from the past into a future that thankfully didn't happen. We took this shot in the year 2000 if the world DID end at midnight. Scary stuff

A shot from the past into a future that thankfully didn’t happen. We took this shot in the year 2000 if the world DID end at midnight. Scary stuff

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