By Kallie Berens
With just over two weeks shy of their album release party at the Townehouse Tavern, Carter and Clayton Drake of one of Sudbury’s “boy bands” The Almighty Rhombus took some time out of their busy schedule to talk to The Lambda about “Lucid Living,” balancing life and school and who makes the best pizza in town.
Carter Drake, currently enrolled in Mechanical Engineering at Laurentian University, cites “10 years BC (before Birthday Cakes)” as the earliest time that any of the three Drake brothers in The Almighty Rhombus showed an interest in music.
“Clayton started learning piano,” he said.
“I took classical piano lessons until I reached Grade 8,” Clayton added. “But I didn’t really play again until my first year of University.”
In the years before The Almighty Rhombus, Clayton fueled his musical fires by playing in several local bands, starting with Hellbound Chainsaws.
“We wrote a hundred really simple, kind of stupid songs,” Clayton said. “Including a song about the Big Dripper from Sub City downtown.”
After Hellbound Chainsaws, Clayton joined Life Blown Open, and three or four years later formed The Birthday Cakes with Carter.
“In Grade 6 or 7, I had a paper route, for The Lambda actually,” Carter joked. “Anyways, I saved for around two years to buy a drum kit. Clayton ordered it off of eBay, then it came to my house and I had a drum kit.”
While Clayton spent his time with The Birthday Cakes and the well-known local band Meadowlark Five, Carter and his friend Michael Kenny begun rehearsing, starting the beginning of the current lineup of The Almighty Rhombus, then known simply as Beam Cannon. Carter remembered one of their earlier performances at Lasalle Secondary School’s Battle Of The Bands. Carter recalled how “none of their shit worked,” with a laugh.
“About a year after we did Beam Cannon we started learning Rhombus songs,” Carter said.
“Then I heard them playing one day and I asked them if I could be in the band,” said Clayton. “Once I joined Rhombus and putting more time into it, things kind of lost momentum with Meadowlark Five.”
Soon after Clayton joined the band, Rhombus solidified their lineup by adding Cameron Drake, Clayton and Carter’s brother, on guitar and Neil Bednis on bass guitar.
“I don’t really think of Rhombus as Rhombus until they joined,” Clayton said. “They changed the sound, and Neil’s writing songs for the band now too, and without them it’s not really the same band.”
The band also changed their name from simply Rhombus to The Almighty Rhombus.
“Rhombus is a rapper on Youtube,” said Carter. “We didn’t really want to change our name.”
“Instead when Steve Giroux and the rest of Coast Redwood introduced us as The Almighty Rhombus one night, that was what we decided to make it,” said Clayton.
“I can’t tell if people are making fun of us or complimenting us on our band name,” said Carter.
Clayton likes the name because of the allegorical undertones to do with the worshipping of finances and religion.
The brothers agreed that the past year and a half for the band has been “crazy train,” trying to keep up with school, jobs and playing shows out of town every other weekend.
“I try to book everything around people’s schedules as much as possible,” said Clayton.
For his six years at Laurentian taking Commerce, Computer Sciences and Chemical Engineering, he understands the burden of having all these commitments.
“We’re going on tour for a week and a half around reading week,” said Carter. “And then I have an exam the Monday after. Got to work on the study to party ratio.”
“I try to give people lots of advance time when I book shows,” said Clayton. “I’m trying to take as much of a burden off of [Carter] because of studying.”
When asked about their upcoming album, “Lucid Living,” Clayton and Carter credited Bednis with the name and the album artwork.
“He had a list of names and we had trouble deciding,” said Clayton. “We all agreed in the studio that we liked it. Neil found the artwork online.”
Carter said he liked the album and artwork more and more, as he thinks it fits in with the songs really well on the album.
“The self-portrait with the gun is a very powerful, provocative image,” said Clayton. “And I kind of get an early twentieth century, Northern Ontario hunting feel from it.”
A few weeks ago the band had a week and a half long east coast tour, playing in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Carter and Clayton both agreed that their favourite place they have played so far has been at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax.
“I felt like I was playing in the Playboy Grotto,” said Clayton.
“It looks like you’re underwater… cool aquariums all around,” said Carter.
[Writer’s note: Never being to the Seahorse Tavern, I asked them if it was like Bass Pro Shop. They said no, but would totally play in Bass Pro Shop.]
The brothers also said that the River & Sky Festival was amongst their favourites, due to the atmosphere. “You can wear sunglasses in outside shows and no one knows what you’re looking at,” said Carter.
“We’ve gotten way better at rocking out since we’ve gone on tour,” said Carter. “We take tequila shots halfway through our set and the shit just goes crazy.”
Being in the Sudbury music scene means you have a lot of support for the other bands within the community, and the Drakes listed their favourite local bands.
“Coast Redwood, Geyser, I can’t pick one… can I give you top three?” said Carter.
Amongst Coast and Geyser, they also listed Supertoke and Pistol George Warren as others they admire.
“There’s a lot of good music in Sudbury, it’s a tough choice,” said Clayton.
“Anytime anyone starts dancing at a show, it’s pretty sweet,” said Carter when asked what their favourite show memory was.
Recently, the band used the crowd sourcing website Indiegogo to help them with the release of their new album and tour costs. Their goal of 3000 dollars was surpassed and they were “very surprised,” Carter admitted.
“I thought we might raise like… 300 bucks,” he added.
When asked what their favourite pizza place in Sudbury is, they spent the remaining five and a half minutes of the interview trying to discuss in order to come up with a solid answer.
“That’s a tough question,” admitted Clayton.
“Don’s pizza is apparently the best,” he said.
“Best sit down pizza restaurant is Golded Pizza in the Donovan,” Clayton eventually decided. “I heard they never turn their oven off, that’s the word on the street, that it hasn’t been turned off in the past 60 years, but I think it tastes delicious.”
“Best delivery is definitely the kitchen sink from Cortina’s Pizza,” said Clayton.
“But it’s too soggy,” countered Carter. “Definitely Topper’s.”
“There’s lots of great pizza in Sudbury,” said Clayton with a definite, final answer. “You can’t go wrong.”
The Almighty Rhombus CD release party will be at the Townehouse Tavern on Saturday, Oct. 5, where they will be selling copies of “Lucid Living.” You can also check their music out on Bandcamp, thealmightyrhombus.bandcamp.com, or find them on Twitter and Facebook.
“Lucid Living” officially hits stores Wednesday, Oct. 30.