A Chat With: The Look Back Now
Get to know Michael Callahan (guitar and vocals), Elliott Gallagher-Doucette (guitar and vocals), Michael Murad (drums) and Ezra Sherman (bass and vocals) from The Look Back Now! The Toronto based 'power-pop' group told us about their debut EP 'Dweeb', where their name comes from, how it felt to share a stage at a festival with a few of their inspirations and much more!
photo: Alex Lam
Where did the name The Look Back Now come from?
The name “The Look Back Now” comes from our role as storytellers. All of our songs involve some kind of lyrical narrative, which has to do with the past, present, and looking ahead into the future. So we thought it would be natural if our name incorporated all those tenses: past, present and future. The name also refers to this arduous process of finding a band name, during which we changed our band’s name three times in one year! Mike says he’ll quit the band if we change it again, so there is literally no looking back now.
How did you guys get into making music together?
Well, I [Elliott] met Mike (guitarist) in the campground at Hillside Music Festival in July, 2015. Then, in the fall of 2015 we started jamming together, arranging some song ideas that I had. Eventually, we landed a gig opening for my friend Matthew Drago in Toronto. That first gig saw Michael Murad (drums) and Eric Gibson (bass) fill out the rest of the line-up. At the time, we were called Talking Out Loud. Then, months down the line Eric referred us to Ezra Sherman who is now our beloved, Freddie Mercury lookalike bassist. After playing shows in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston & a handful of house parties, we settled into ourselves and together make up The Look Back Now!
Why call your debut EP Dweeb?
The title has a few different meanings. First and foremost, it confronts the fact that our music is angsty. There is a certain stigma that surrounds whiny vocals, and so if people know the EP is called Dweeb, they know what they sign up for when they toss it on their speakers. On top of that, it refers to the fact that growing up (and still to this day) we are all dweebs. As a band, and as individuals, we’ve all got neuroticisms, which get manifested in some way or another by the EP. In this sense, the EP is a coming of age story about all of us growing up in the 90s and early 2000s.
Your sound reminds me of Simple Plan and PUP...what were some artists that inspired your music?
We all listened to Simple Plan growing up, so they are vaguely in our musical DNA. I think PUP is one of the biggest inspirations for this project. Right when Ezra and I met each other, we attended PUP’s album release party for The Dream is Over, and that one show seemed to change everything. From that point we realized that it was totally acceptable to sound as whiny and jaded as you wanted, so long as you really meant it. People also draw comparisons between us and bands like Sloan and Weezer, who were both heavy influences on the record.
What's something you want to accomplish by creating music?
What we’ve started scratching the surface of, and what we want to continue working towards, is to be able to spread the stories which we believe are important. Whether they are big, life-changing debates (Running Away), or just silly nights of getting drunk and feeling bummed out (Funny Bone), we just want to be able to draw people together by pointing out all of our commonalities. On Dweeb, those commonalities were manifested in nostalgia, friendship and homesickness. And really, that is why Pop music is our medium. It has a common thread that everyone can enjoy, even if you’re not a whiny dweeb.
How was it performing at Riverfest with big acts like MGMT?
It was pretty surreal! Riverfest is a really amazing community which we were very fortunate to get a glimpse into this summer. So many great bands played which we admired growing up, and still admire, so it was an awesome learning experience. In fact, the night we met the Riverfest promoters and were invited to play the festival, we covered “Electric Feel” by MGMT. We all had a laugh about it a few months later when the lineup was announced, because at the time we had no idea MGMT was going to headline the festival.
Did you meet any of the bands at the festival/have you ever one of your fave bands, how was that?
Yeah for sure, I mean, the whole vibe of the place was super inclusive and encouraging to talk to other artists and network. One of our favourite bands at the festival are these dudes in this band, The Boo Radley Project, who are one of the most energetic, enigmatic bands you could think of. It was also cool to meet the Dirty Nil and watch them perform on Saturday afternoon. We got to hang with our friends, Hollerado, who have offered up so much mentorship to us since this band started that it ain’t even funny. Craziest event by far was hearing a story from Fraser Gauthier (bassist in My Son the Hurricane) about a bassist, Dylan White, who Ezra goes to school with at Humber College, who kayaked from Morocco, across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. So all in all, we met some bands we’ve loved for ages, and made some new friends too!
photo: Alex Lam
How are the shows you've been playing? like performance/audience
The shows have been going great! We had an awesome weekend in Montreal in October, where we played both Friday and Saturday night. We had a bunch of people come out to both shows, which was super encouraging. Over the summer, we had a hell of a time playing in Elora twice, both opening for New Swears at the Elora Brewing Co. and then at Elora Riverfest. One of our favorite places we’ve played, The Spill in Peterborough, very sadly just closed down. There we met so many awesome people who were really enthused by our projects, and awesome musicians like Conner Clarkin from the Heartless Romantics, and Luke and Ian from Cleopatrick. Also major shouts to Niall Cormac Jensen for helping us get to Peterborough on that tour. Of course, we also love playing in our hometown, Toronto. We’ve had some really memorable shows along Queen Street West at spots like The Cameron House, Bovine Sex Club, Rivoli, the Horseshoe Tavern.
What would your dream tour be like?
As a band, we’d love to be able to do a transcontinental tour through North America. That’s the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, there are a lot of logistics which impede Canadian acts from freely touring the United States, but we’ll get there someday for sure.
What makes your band stand out from the other young Toronto bands at the moment?
What sets us apart is how concrete goals are while having only known each other for a few years. Unlike many bands of the rock scene, we didn’t undergo the romanticized process of growing up on the same street, or meeting in high school. In fact, when the band started, we lived in different towns. We all met through really random events, like camping at a music festival, or being connected through roommates of old friends, but we somehow had one common goal. We wanted to write banger Pop-Rock songs. We are not the typical rock band that learned to play together in a basement or a garage. We’re the jigsaw puzzle rock-band that grew up in 4 different towns, but after meeting each other, saw too much of a common thread between the four of us to pass up the prospect of working together.