Through the lens of happenstance

Justin Brake
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Toronto’s Hidden Cameras return to St. John’s with double the local flavour

The Hidden Cameras. — Submitted photo

It’s been a while, but The Hidden Cameras are returning to St. John’s.

In 2007 the popular Toronto-based indie pop band, which features St. John’s native John Power as its drummer, made their Newfoundland debut with a December gig at The Rock House on George Street.

Before the show, Power sent an online message to his friends and fellow musicians in St. John’s that the band was looking for people to form an impromptu choir and join in on some of the songs.

Power’s friend and former Trailer Camp lead singer and guitarist Jon Hynes was among those who responded to the call.

Little did Hynes know that his participation that night would have future repercussions.

“Being a fan of the band then and being in the choir, I was like, this is amazing; I would love to play with these guys sometime,” Hynes says over the phone from Ottawa, where he recently finished an education degree at the University of Ottawa.

Trailer Camp, a popular rock band in St. John’s during its three-album lifespan, disbanded in 2008 when Hynes moved to Toronto to be with his girlfriend.

“I was lucky because I moved here to be with my girlfriend and I said I was gonna try to play live music up here as much as possible,” he recalls.

As luck would have it, another Hidden Cameras member, bassist Paul Mathew, knew of Hynes’ recent move to the city.

“He was sort of my saving grace in that he couldn’t (play) this Hidden Cameras show, so I got that gig,” says Hynes. “He also played with Matthew Barber at the time and he couldn’t do those shows, and he put my name out again and then all of a sudden Matt Barber was like, ‘Hey can you do these shows with me?’ And I was like, ‘holy shit, Toronto’s amazing — I just moved here.’”

Since 2008 Hynes has toured North America and Europe with the band and, despite the fact the only permanent thing about The Hidden Cameras is founder and songwriter Joel Gibb, Hynes is still in the picture.

Having recently returned from Berlin, where he’s spent a good chunk of his time in recent years, Gibb and crew are hitting the road on June 15 for a short swing through Eastern Canada.

It’s been three years since the release of “Origin: Orphan”, the band’s acclaimed sixth album but, says Gibb, a new project is in the works.

“Some of the songs on the record we debuted live like 10 years ago — it’s kind of been a long album in the making,” he explains on the phone from Toronto. “It’s always been that thing that I always wanted to do, but was always working on another record. I’ve been recording it and am now just trying to get the right person to mix it, basically.”

The still-untitled record, says Gibb, will likely be released next year. And it will follow suit from “Origin: Orphan” in exploring genre as a theme.

“It’s also the most like a concept record as I’ve ever done,” he says. “It can be loosely based on the day in the life of a goth teenager, perhaps. There’s a very sort of industrial string quartet song, and then there’s a whole bunch of really big band bangers that are all in minor keys. And then the last stuff is the most rock-like ... that I’ve ever done before.”

It’s a far cry, he says, from the self-described “gay folk church music” of the band’s early days.

“Using (that) tag line was limiting, but in the end I kind of knew that,” he says. “I used that term on our initial flyers when our performances were in churches and it actually was gay folk church music. So it was really being playful with how we promoted the band and how we defined the music, and it’s slightly political, too.

“Now that’s always mentioned in articles years and years on,” he continues. “Like, the last record, I think maybe about one-sixteenth of that record could be classified in that way. There’s little moments of the old albums on that one. And the new record has like zero (‘gay folk church music’) — there’s no acoustic guitar, no tambourines, no pipe organs, there’s nothing that resembles our first record.”

Gibb says the band will debut some new songs at their June 22 and 23 St. John’s shows.

And as for Hynes, now that school’s finished, he plans to steer his attention to his new solo project, The Divide, which he’s working on with producer and Obijou drummer James Bunton.

The Hidden Cameras and special guest Regina the Gentle Lady (Cameras band member Gentleman Reg in drag) play The Rock House on George Street June 22 and 23.

For more information visit www.thehiddencameras.com.

Organizations: The Rock House, University of Ottawa.Trailer Camp, The Divide

Geographic location: Toronto, Newfoundland, Ottawa North America Europe Berlin Eastern Canada.It

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