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The first disBAND victims were The Homecoming, a fresh-faced Toronto five-piece who played the kind of heart-tugging pop-punk you’d think would’ve played perfectly to the target MuchMusic demo at the time. However, even after taking Greg Nori’s advice to change their name from Garden State (always avoid the litigious wrath of Zach Braff) and beef up the catchy hooks, the show’s judges gave them the thumbs down. It appears that The Homecoming actually did disband shortly after their appearance, but some of the dudes still dabble in music: frontman Quinn Danielis formed electronic production duo Japain, and Chris Thuang still lays down pop-punk basslines with Like Pacific.
karamel the band
Teenaged pop duo KaraMel tried their best to impress the disBAND judges with sugary-sweet tunes, but their polished bubblegum sound was a little too late for the Britney/boy band era, and they got the dreaded “disBAND” verdict. They kept on working after the show however, and got a bit of surprise success when their piano-driven cover of Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” became a top-40 radio hit in Scotland. Singer Kara Lane eventually moved on to other groups (first The Boom Boom Factory, then K.I.D), but her biggest break yet has been a guest spot on GZA and Tom Morello’s “The Mexican,” which she recently helped perform on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
the isosceles project
This Toronto-based trio was definitely a bit of a curveball for the show, playing an uncompromising style of instrumental, highly technical progressive metal. They fought pretty much all of Nori’s attempts to make them more palatable and commercial, and the judges felt they had no choice but to give them the thumbs-down after a 14-minute song. Still, it looks like their decision was misguided, as The Isosceles Project is one of the few bands from the show that’s still active. Bassist Scott Tessier also now plays in local grindcore act Homolka.
This young group from Stoney Creek was one of the more obvious standouts from season one. The judges loved the story behind their name (an homage to an old friend of the guitarist’s father) and fell for their classic rock style, immediately bringing to mind references of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. disBAND judge Mark Spicoluk signed them to his label Underground Operations and they quickly won chances to play shows with big guns such as KISS and Bon Jovi, but despite all the attention, a proper full length never materialized. The three other members forged ahead without the lead singer and formed their own group called The Zilis, who’ve independently released two albums to date.
Dog Bus is the quirky rap duo of brothers “Jules MKools” and “Jakey MkSpanky,” and they had no trouble winning over both Nori and the judges with their ode to robots, which was fun, but sounded like it was filtered through a sugar rush and entirely too much unconditional praise from their parents. The bros are still making weird music together today (in between YouTube prank videos, that is) and their first full length Booty Seizure was released in 2013.
The big success story of season one, Edmonton’s Stereos was one of the first, but definitely not the last, examples of the Much audience seriously looooooving tatted rock bros that use heavy Auto-Tune. They had to endure several name changes and talking to Gene Simmons, but it was worth it to ink a major deal with Universal. They fizzled out rather quickly and called it quits after two albums, with three of the members moving on to form the more moody, new wave influenced I65.
One of the more emotional episodes of the show featured Maddy Rodriguez, a sweet 15-year-old songwriter with dreams of becoming the next Taylor Swift. Her youthful innocence was palpable when she participated in a photo shoot that was way outside her comfort zone and when she broke down about the health problems her father had recently experienced. It also carried over to the performance, when nerves clearly affected her singing, but there was enough talent and songwriting ability underneath to give her a very tentative thumbs up. Since the show, she’s won multiple songwriting awards and has been signed to Nettwerk.
Welland’s Street Pharmacy came on the second season of disBAND clearly ready for a professional career. Their Sublime-eqsue reggae-rock sound wasn’t exactly groundbreaking, but the well-honed talents of the band (especially lead vocalist Ryan Guay) had already allowed them to record a few indie LPs, open for IllScarlet and amass a pretty strong following. The judges naturally agreed that they had what it takes, and they were signed to Fontana North, under whom they’re still recording for while touring heavily today.
Arguably the most memorable disBAND ep centred around Toronto’s Abandon All Ships, the aural equivalent of a Monster Energy drink hitting a feral cat. They specialized in the metal-EDM hybrid known as electronicore, a genre I’ll never understand the existence of let alone its popularity with teens (but then again, I did grow up under the reign of Limp Bizkit with no qualms, so I guess every generation has its regrets). Anyway, these guys were extremely serious about their art (and by art, I mean lasers), so a signing to Underground Operations/Universal Canada sealed the deal for years of success. They mercifully broke up in 2014, but former members continue on in new projects Sine of the Lion and Curses.
These Kids Wear Crowns
This Chilliwack gang brought their partycore jams to the disBAND stage near the end of the series, and were one of the most successful in doing so. Their appearance led to major label interest, and after signing with Capitol Records/EMI they produced debut LP Jumpstart in 2011, enjoying several moderate hits in the aftermath. Their “do whateva u want!” ethos is clearly no joke, as frontman Alex Johnson went so far as to run for parliament with the Libertarian Party of Canada this year. We’ll see if any harsh political lessons make their way into lyrics for the second album, now in the works.
Now that MuchMusic barely exists as its former self, it’s hard to remember that the channel once created its own original content, and even better, its own original music content. But you may recall a little something called disBAND, a reality show where budding Canadian bands got their chance to be groomed for greatness by Treble Charger’s Greig Nori and to perform in front of an esteemed industry panel in the Much environment. Some were told they had what it takes to hit the big time (and perhaps would score a record deal on the spot), while others (well, most of them) were told they couldn’t compete in the current musical climate and should “disBAND.” Harsh.
At best, the show was a glimpse into the inner workings of the Canadian music industry and a neat way to discover brand new musicians before they became MuchMusic stars. At worst, it was a painfully staged and strangely addictive hate-watch full of awful music. If nothing else, the show proved itself to be really good at spawning opening acts for Hedley concerts. But several years later, how far have any of those artists gone – and how often did the judges actually get it right? Here’s an update on what happened to some of the lucky featured bands of disBAND.