A Musical Education

No Half Measures for Toronto’s Dinosaur Bones

Dinosaur Bones are the real thing.

Not in the regenerated-from-fossilized-amber sort of way, but rather a group of guys from Ontario roaming the country sharing their not-so-Jurassic sounds. Armed with a slightly haunting brand of guitar-driven indie pop, these guys are in it for the long haul.

A group of friends in their mid-20s, Dinosaur Bones have pinpointed the most promising recipe for success—hard work.

It’s obvious that the band wasn’t put together on a whim.

“If you want to be successful creatively, you have to throw everything at it,” said Ben Fox, lead guitarist and singer. Fox decided to commit to music full-time while halfway through a stint at Concordia, studying English literature and political science.

“It wasn’t really something that I ever had to think about. I knew that this was what I had to do,” he said. “I knew that if I didn’t do it, I’d regret it for a long time.”

Undaunted by the track record of once-ambitious, now ex-musicians that chose that same path, Fox said he found it to be the most natural decision he ever made.

“I think back-up plans are probably one of the most creatively stifling elements you can have in your life,” he said.

Growing up in what he describes as a “circle of tons of artists and musicians,” he played music with people throughout high school, some of whom would eventually come to make up Dinosaur Bones.

Luckily, when he decided to drop his studies and take up music, his old friends were on the same page.

“I didn’t have to twist any arms or anything,” he said. “For the most part, we were pretty familiar with how each other work. It was comfortable from the get-go.”

Although last year’s debut LP My Divider may start out with a ballad soft on drums and heavy on lusty vocals, the subsequent tracks don’t shy away from breaking the pattern. The record combines moments of dominant guitar rock with more subdued tracks, focusing on vocals and sophisticated riffs.

Hailing from the burgeoning indie rock circuit in Toronto, the band knows exactly where to draw the line between influence and imitating what came before them. The band entrusted the album’s production to veteran producer Jon Drew, who has worked with Stars and Tokyo Police Club.

The result is a new take on Canadian alt-rock that will probably appeal more to fans of ‘90s mope-rock than those looking for the newest indie-pop hit. That being said, a few of the tracks are still pretty damn catchy.

Fox says that some of My Divider is based on his move from Montreal to Toronto, but admits that the next album, which they are working on already, is turning out to be different.

“A lot of the songs on the album were based on leaving things I cared about behind,” he explained. “But at the same time, I think every band’s first album tends to be a culmination of things and tends to span across a longer period of time. The things that I’m currently writing about will definitely be from a different point in my life.”

After opening for acts like Yukon Blonde and the Arkells, Dinosaur Bones are headlining almost every show this tour. They’re set to hit the road for Montreal this week, and they’ll be heading across southern Ontario for the next couple months.

As for plans in the future, Fox is wary about pinpointing what exactly would mean success for the Bones.

“It’s more a matter of longevity, especially in music, and being able to sustain the quality of work that you’re putting out,” he said. “As well as being consistent as an artist that people are aware of and will continue to care about for an extended period of time.”

Ready to go wherever their mid-tempo indie rock takes them, Dinosaur Bones aren’t interested in taking the safe route. Touring coast-to-coast is the kind of education no university could provide, and the band are quickly becoming upperclassmen, a group of genuine, honest-to-goodness rockers willing to put in all of their efforts to keep living the dream.

Dinosaur Bones / Jan. 31 (w/ Prussia) / Il Motore (179 Jean-Talon St. W.)