In Toronto, it can be hard for a band like Clothes make The Man to find themselves. As vocalist/guitarist Ryan McLennan informed us, it’s all about being yourself, relying on local Pita Pits and believing in the importance of music.
How did you come up with the name Clothes Make The Man?
I think I just knew the saying and proposed it to the guys. We were going to call ourselves The Gazillionaires but opted to go with Clothes Make The Man.
If Clothes Make The Man was a physical being, what would it be and what type of personality would it have?
Definitely Bruce Willis.
When did you first get involved in music?
My Dad would play drums in the basement while my Mom was home and pregnant with me.
How did the band first come about?
While I was in university in Ottawa around 2001, I got it in my head that I wanted to move to Toronto and start a rock n roll band. I called up some friends from high school that played music and asked if they would like to be in a band. They all said yes. We actually found [drummer] Phil [Wilson] on Craigslist in 2007.
What artists influence you the most?
There are so many but I’ll go with Neil Young and Greg Dulli. Their lyrics are just so good and totally inspiring. I like when artists fill my head with images and make me feel what they felt when they wrote the song. When an artist lets me into their world and exposes some part of themselves, I’m always thankful.
Elvis or Iggy Pop?
How would you describe your music?
To me our music is a type of rock n roll I guess. It can be a little rough around the edges but it’s got a good heart. It’s a little salty and a little sweet. Someone once wrote that I sound like I gargle razors which I thought was fun. But we are also kind of like pop music because we tend to have catchy choruses and melodies. I’m going to go with Alternative Rock Pop.
Are clothes the only things that make a man?
Thankfully no. A good attitude, kindness and confidence go a long way too. Mostly I would say that guts make the man. As in our organs.
What’s one unique thing you bring to the table that other bands don’t?
Warm friendly smiles?
Exclaim! Magazine called you “Toronto indie kings”. Do you consider yourself royalty?
I wish. I would get us a band jet. That way we wouldn’t have to keep borrowing the Diableros van.
What’s been your favourite show that you’ve played and why?
Edgefest because we got to play in front of so many people who’d never seen us before.
What was your October 21 show in New York like?
Our show in New York was lovely. We got to play for some Americans finally! It was our first time playing in the States and it was great to just hang out in that amazing city afterward. I think we all wished we could have stayed longer but we had to drive back to Mississauga to play a show the very next night.
When you arrive in a city to play a show, do you have any rituals in terms of eating, drinking or shopping you have to get out of the way before playing your gig?
It’s usually a scramble to find some dinner (big shout out to Pita Pits throughout Ontario) and then harassing as many drink tickets as we can from the promoter/booker. Then just hang out with the boys. Some quick mouth and tongue stretches right before we start to play are a must.
What’s missing from the Canadian music scene and what does it need less of?
The only thing that’s missing is people! Canada has a small population spread across a huge country which can make touring a little difficult. But there’s lots of great music to be found all over the country.
Favourite place in Toronto to hang out at?
I like to eat burritos from Big Fat Burrito and then hang out at Ronnie’s Local 69 in Kensington Market.
What does music mean to you?
Music means making human connections. Music means therapy. Music means happiness, sadness and every emotion you could possibly feel. Music can provide a delightful escape from a negative situation. Music is important.