"Hopeful monster" is a colloquial term used in evolutionary biology to describe a rapid development of species on a macro level. In the Canadian music scene, Hopeful Monster are a fine pop band who mix Zombies-like melodies with subtle metaphor-drenched lyrics. [...]

Much has changed for [founder Jason] Ball since recording Hopeful Monster's debut. He got married, became a father and made a number of moves between Toronto and Halifax. All the while, he continued to write and record tracks for the new album.

"I started some of the bed tracks in Seabright [Nova Scotia, site of Nervous System studio], then [wife] Catherine and I moved up to Toronto and we lived in a succession of apartments, recorded a little bit here and a little bit there, wherever I was living," explains Ball. "And then finally when Catherine was pregnant with Zola, we rented a house and it had a basement and it was there that I did the other half of the beds and a whole lot of overdubs."

The five years spent on Metatasking contrast the intense labour of the first album.

"We spent about three or four months — practically around the clock — eating, sleeping and then recording," Ball explains of his work with [Nervous System partner Paul] Aucoin. "Just a couple of us, and bringing out session players from Halifax."

The overall feel of the band changed [in the years following the initial recording sessions]. The eponymous album featured spacious orchestral elements, which made it difficult for Ball to find musicians willing to commit the time needed to learn the material. So he decided to go in a more straightforward direction with his new material.

"It's always challenging to have a band, because people who like the songs don't realize that they are hard to play compared to some other songs. So I tried to write easier songs, and they called for different arrangements. I was able to get people to come in and play parts that they made up rather than parts that I made up.

"I tried to write songs that would have a guitar solo and let [By Divine Right leader] Jose Contreras or whoever play a solo instead of having a string quartet play what they are told, or it would be a total mess. Jose and I are old friends. I played on [BDR's] Good Morning Beautiful, though I only played one show live." [...]

Hopeful Monster play their first full band gig [in more than a year, featuring Jose on guitar], drummer Gavin Maguire, keyboardist Jeff Heisholt and bassist Jeremy Little at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern on Thursday on a bill also featuring Madison Violet, Brothers Cosmoline and David Celia.

"It's David Celia's show at the Horseshoe," explains Ball. "We met when he came out to play in Halifax earlier this year.

"He had this upcoming gig soon after my return to Toronto, and I'm not so good at being on top of booking. So it made a lot of sense for me to be on that bill with him. This is the record's coming-out party. I'm done with it. Now it's the world's turn."

Ball hopes the show and album will lead to someone putting the self-released album out on a larger scale.

Chris Burland

Originally posted here