The Michigan Daily discovered in November 2004 that several articles written by arts editor Alex Wolsky did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.

Janna Hutz
Not the Strokes. (Courtesy of Atlantic)

After finding themselves situated in front of bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen and NY hipsters Interpol, the Stills, Montreal’s most popular export in 2003, have finally severed the ties that bind and broken out on their own. As they cope with ever-increasing hype from their first album, Logic Will Break Your Heart, they find themselves surprisingly humbled and ready to progress despite the fact that they’re still being overshadowed by their contemporaries.

Dave Hamelin, drummer and songwriter for the band, is quick to clarify, however, that they’re nothing like the bands they’ve drawn comparisons to in the past. “People have said we’re like the Strokes but more Joy Division and that’s simply not true,” he says. “It’s ridiculous what people will say.”

The Stills formed in Montreal during the summer of 2002 under the leadership of Hamelin and guitarist Tim Fletcher. Together they had written a handful of songs on a four-track recorder but felt they would develop better through agency. “I’ve known him since I was 13. Our songs were growing similarly and (Tim) brought up the idea of starting a band,” Hamelin notes.

In fact, the entire group is tightly knit. “It’s very brotherly,” Hamelin admits. Both Fletcher and he played together in various bands since meeting, and bassist Olivier Crow has known Hamelin since they were four years old. The intimate relationship has a sweeping impact on how the band functions today. “Because we’ve known each other for so long, all of our conflicts tend to be very psychological. A lot of arguments boil down to our childhood and at times they tend to be more vicious than one would expect. Diplomacy goes out the window when you’re with friends.”

Now, as the Stills embark on their first headlining tour, a whole new set of questions remain to be answered. “Since the beginning we’ve been constantly trying to prove ourselves. You tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself, both as a musician and as a friend to your fellow band members, and at times it can become devastating; we’re ready to have our own tour and I feel we can deliver.”

Success on the road, the ability to grow as artists and the dreaded sophomore slump all loom large for the band, and when asked if the hype has affected the band at all, Hamelin insists that they’ve yet to let it get under their skin. “If we’re confident musically, then we’ll be able to pull through the next year unscathed — the only time hype scares you is when you’re unsure. There have been times when we’ve doubted ourselves, but we’re proud of what we’ve done and we’ve said what we had to say with the first record. It’s time to move on.”

After a brief tour, the Stills are preparing to seclude themselves in a recording studio and begin work on their sophomore album. Hamelin was careful to note that the band intends to model their next album in the creative mold of their influences, the Beatles and Radiohead. “We admire how bands like them can grow on every record and each one sounds completely different. Our new songs don’t sound anything like what we’ve done before,” Hamelin states. “The new songs actually sound like Bob Dylan meets the Flaming Lips.”

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