"Some people are trying to call us alt-country, but that’s ‘cause they’re lazy. They hear a pedal steel and automatically assume ‘country’. Alt-country is a buzz word right now and the problem with buzz words is: one, they are hard to shake and two, they fall out of fashion. We’re just a rock band.” says singer/songwriter, Jason Taylor of Driveway’s sound.
Driveway is a new group from Toronto made up of ex-MAdE frontman Jason Taylor, ex-MAdE bass player Chris Sytnyk, drummer Robin Mason (Superhalo, Statistics), and Corey Matheson (Haggis) on banjo, pedal steel and guitar. These seasoned musicians have combined their influences that include Whiskeytown, The Jayhawks, Lucinda Williams, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Pixies, and Sonic Youth to form this ‘rock band’.
Driveway’s self-titled debut was independently released and the band is content with this arrangement, unless the right label deal becomes available. “We are looking at smaller labels because we want to start out organically,” says Taylor, “I’d like the band to find and define itself.” On their debut CD Taylor is the main songwriter; however the band is free to add whatever they feel. “I’ll write a song and hash it out a little bit at home, just to get the overall structure of the song, then I bring it in and everyone puts their own thing on it,” says Taylor, “let the song after it has been ‘sort-of-written’ end up Drivewayified. The guys add all the magic”
Driveway was lucky enough to get U.S. producer Keith Cleversley (The Flaming Lips, Urge Overkill and Spiritualized) to agree to produce some of the songs on the album. Taylor and Sytnyk worked with him when they were in MAdE. Cleversley produced MAdE’s Television Heart album. “Keith has almost no ‘amazing’ gear, but he can pull off amazing recordings despite of this,” explains Taylor, “kind of like the guy who can whittle Michelangelo’s ‘David’ out of a tree stump using only a jack-knife.” The rest of the album was produced and mixed by Toronto’s Lurch. Mason said “the whole recording experience for the making of our record will stay with me for a long time, it was amazing.”
The guys in Driveway all have many years of recording and touring experience. Universal Music Canada and MCA in the U.S. released MAdE’s first album, Bedazzler and Universal Canada distributed their second, Television Heart. The group broke up after the Universal/Polygram merger took place in 1999 and they were dropped from the label. Taylor said, “After that I just wanted to get back to basics, back to my roots and just make music. It’s actually quite liberating to not have to hear music referred to as units, singles, radio adds, and product.”
Driveway was formed in 2002. “I was writing for a couple of years, I remembered Robin from the old days and Chris was the bass player for MAdE, we put this project together and it was just the three of us for a while.” The group put an ad in the back of NOW magazine looking for a guitar player. “We only got one call and that was Corey Matheson,” laughs Taylor. “I remember talking to him on the phone and he said ‘I’m from Nova Scotia, I play pedal steel, lap steel, piano, guitar…’ and I said ‘holy shit dude, I’ll be over there in like five minutes.”
“We have all been in many bands before, some of us have even had a modest amount of success, but no matter what, we are in it for life, and I think to some degree this can be heard in the music,” Taylor said, “There’s something real about the music, there’s something magical when we are on stage together. I think the magic comes from the fact that music ‘is’ us, not just ‘in’ us. We are in it for the simple reason that we have no choice.”