Sitting down with Chris John and Jesse Dryfhout of Stabilo, it's easy to see why these guys have been together for over a decade. Their relationship is complimentary and it is the foundation of a truly distinct ensemble; Chris and Jesse are both accomplished songwriters, stellar lead vocalists and rock out on an array of instruments. All of this offers diversity in their music both lyrically and in their unique musical style.
Stabilo has just come off of a tour with INXS which heightened the band's exposure. Dryfhout describes how it all came together: "Our management had some sort of connection and was going through a booking agency to book some shows but it wasn't really happening and someone else talked to someone and we heard that JD, the singer, knew of us and liked our stuff and that's how it basically happened." Touring with an internationally known rock band had Stabilo playing in some of its larger venues to date, something that took a little getting used to as John says, "it took a couple to get used to but by the end it felt great. Now it's back to playing clubs, again (sigh) and trying to get used to those." Jesse is quick to point out that playing to a large or small audience; it depends on the show and the crowd. "You can have a show at a club and the people aren't really into it so it's no better or worse than a larger venue but for the most part smaller venues are more intimate." They both agree that playing for 15,000 people at the ACC was "a bit of rush and seeing people holding up signs like 'we're here for Stabilo' was great."
Dryfhout and John were both born and raised in Surrey, Vancouver, and came together in high school over their love for music like Dave Matthews. Being from the west coast and having to endure months of rain is something Jesse attributes to his writing style; "the rain is pretty depressing, I mean it's really beautiful there too, but I think a lot of my writing happens on dark days, rainy days, where you have to stay inside, it definitely influences my writing." Jesse does point out "that I'm a (happier) person now but there's nothing like a good bout of depression to get a bunch of songs going." "We seem to need some tragedy or disaster," adds Chris.
The twosome have been together now for over ten years and have matured physically, "we can grow facial hair now," jokes Jesse. More importantly, they have grown musically and artistically; "we actually learned how to play a guitar and learned how to write songs. I think our song writing has come a long way. We started out not really knowing about theory or songwriting, not that that's a bad thing but it's a different style. Now I have a better idea of chords and what works together. I still experiment a lot and try a lot of new things but it's much more bottomed out now." "Also, lyrically, I know when we first started writing; we'd just kind of spout stuff off the top of our heads and rhyme a few words. I think now our songs make a lot more sense," adds Chris.
Stabilo's latest album, Happiness and Disaster, is making a lot of sense to a lot of people. The first single, "Flawed Design", written and sung by Dryfhout is "intuitively the truth and admitting that not everything is true and the verses are written very candidly." "Flawed Design" has spent 17 weeks on the charts and recently hit number 1.
The title track, "Happiness and Disaster" was the third most downloaded song of all time on iTunes Canada. "Chris John wrote and performs this sort of happier song at least musically. It started out about a relationship but it can be applied to life. It's basically about taking risks and not looking at the consequences and guaranteeing that bad consequences or not, you're going to do it anyway."
"We're really happy with (Happiness and Disaster). We don't really know with all the downloading, it's hard to keep track of where you're sitting. The industry has totally changed like that. We're just really pleased with the way (the album) turned out and we hope everyone else enjoys it," says Dryfhout.
The next single due out is "Kidding Ourselves", which the band recently finished shooting a video for in Toronto.
Stabilo is currently on tour in western Canada.
For more information visit www.stabilomusic.com
Writer: Lisa Kerr