Now I’ve told people over and over that they are mistaken when they talk about emo. The genre is mostly discredited and partly due to the sub-culture it created. However, Tell-tale Hearts is part of a strong emo revival movement that seems to be taking place in today’s music scene.
A little history lesson to begin, Emo originally was an offshoot of the hardcore punk movement, believe it or not. Although the music has been quite watered down over the years it has, in the past, utilized harder punk rock elements while dealing with more emotional and personal topics. This was mainly focussed in the lyrical content. When softer elements were added to the genre there began a divergence between emo and a new genre titled screamo. Emo then became a far softer genre whereas screamo maintained the soft and loud ambivalence of the original movement. For Tell-Tale Hearts specifically, no distinction is necessary although there might be one. The band uses emotionally driven lyrics while using rough screaming vocals atop of melodic and clean guitars.
With a strong influence from the original Midwest Emo movement Tell-Tale Hearts wishes to capture something nostalgic about what emo originally was while tweaking what is conventionally expected from a band of that sort. The band, comprised of Egin Kongoli, Guitar/Vox, Mark Wilson, Guitar, Darren Scarfo, Bass and Chris Lehman, Drums incorporates elements of screamo and post-rock into their music looking to separate themselves from what people typically expect. The band has influence from a metal and progressive rock background but for this specific project Kongoli mentioned names such as Merchant ships, Midwest Pen Pals, Snowing and High Tide Hotel as inspiration. Another method the band employs is the lack of distortion in their music. They decided to write songs without distortion and instead be very heavy on the vocals. That being something they feel hasn’t been explored by the genre.
The inspiration for the band’s first album actually comes from an extremely personal place for lead vocalist Egin Kongoli. During our interview he explained that what sparked the writing of the band’s music was a friend’s death from Crohn’s disease. In November, after attending the funeral he was re-inspired to write more music which brought together friends and led to the formation of Tell-Tale Hearts. A sad story that has, thus far, had a great outcome.
When we discussed the Toronto music scene the band agreed that there are not many places for them to play in Toronto and that it’s almost impossible for kids to come out to shows because of age restrictions. The band spoke briefly about a kid named Dan who always tries to get into shows but is constantly denied because of age limitations. “He just wants to listen to music,” says Scarfo “he’s not there to drink or cause trouble.” Even Wilson admitted that he couldn’t see bands he liked when he was fourteen until he turned about twenty. This is yet another reason why the band supports DIY venues such as Toronto’s ARE Gallery and Soybomb Hq. On the other hand, Kongoli said he was moved by the indie scene when he was younger but as high school ended he became jaded and still feels that way. Nevertheless, he insists on trying to create a community even though “in Toronto it’s become about being cool”.
When I spoke to the band we spoke extensively on their commitment not only to DIY in their own respect but also in respect to venues. Wilson said “When you play on a regular stage you’re just so disconnected from the people listening to your music.” In this way the band agrees that DIY is what is slowly creating a community and a scene for bands like themselves. For Kongoli DIY was “necessary for survival” as an artist who has to struggle with things like paying rent and schooling.
We also spoke briefly on school as Kongoli and Wilson attend the University of Toronto. For Kongoli school and music are two separate things and that it is unfortunate that they didn’t somehow connect but for Wilson, who studied Media Studies he found a bit of connection between his school and extracurricular activities. However, the band agreed that doing both is no easy task especially when you have rent to worry about.
What does the future hold for Tell-Tale Hearts? The band is looking to do a quick tour of the US this summer through some useful connection as well as a split to get their name out to the public. The band is also working on recording some new music as well to follow their latest release.
The album is happy and sad at the same time and you can only really understand that once listening to it. The album brings together the sadness of losing a friend together with the joy of being with friends. The band admits they are jokers and even though the music may be emotional they make time to come up with song titles like Donald Glover(karaoke has much lower stakes) and Justin Bieber(in it for the hits) based off inside jokes between the band members.
If you’d like to hear more then check out the links below and if you’d like to hear more than that then check out Tell-Tale Hearts live June 3rd at Magpie in Kensington.
Do it Yourself. Do it Together.
Tell-Tale Hearts Suggests: Fox Moulder, Delo Truda, Bulletproof Tiger, Peace be Still, Animal Faces
Album Download: Tell-Tale Hearts Demo 2012: http://tell-talehearts.bandcamp.com/album/demo-2012