Of all the band's currently trolling the Toronto underground, few have been as active these past two years as The Daybreak. Consecutive North By North East appearances, a debut EP (Everything In-Between) and a number of high profile opening slots have positioned The Daybreak on the radar of even the most hardened observer. Yet with the recent departure of founding guitar Rob Domagela, the band is being forced to turn the page whether they like it or not.
"Rob's girlfriend is from London so now that he's done school, he decided to move over there to be with her," comments Shoe Mukherjee, The Daybreak's frontman and other founding member. "He actually left just days after our North by North East show. He might come back, he might not… but for the foreseeable future, he's not a part of The Daybreak."
Mukherjee, who also plays guitar in the band, has closed ranks with bassist Paul Bramn and drummer Mike Dawson, and opted to soldier on. While Domagala's replacement has yet to be named, Mukherjee and his bandmates are looking forward to building upon the momentum they've amassed since the band's formation in autumn 2001. The Daybreak have already played with a veritable "who's who" of modern rock buffoonery: The Killers, Maroon 5, The Sounds plus local favourites Robin Black and the IRS, Showroom and The Salads. Yet it was an opening slot for UK rave rockers The Music that cemented The Daybreak's position as a band to watch.
"Playing with The Music was really great," confirms Mukherjee. "It was only our seventh show and we hadn't fully refined our sound, but it was still very exciting. The crowd was just fantastic. People seemed to like our set but once The Music came on, it really became everything that I think a concert should be. People were having fun and most importantly, people were dancing. The Music were really good at combining rock and roll music with a danceable beat. We did sign autographs after the show so we seemed to make an impression."
Playing with a band like The Music seems a perfect match for a Brit-infused outfit like The Daybreak. All swirlie guitars and Cockney slurs, the band's music has drawn comparisons to the Stones Roses, Oasis and The Verve. "The purpose of this band is to make music in North America that was more reminiscent of British music," says Mukherjee. "That's not to say that it's a clear and obvious rip-off of that style of music but it does show that influence. It shows a commitment to melody and good song craft. That's something I think the British excel at and Americans sometimes lack."
One thing working in The Daybreak's favour is that their hometown of Toronto has always had a voracious appetite for all strands of British rock and roll. Mukherjee doesn't fully understand these tendencies but has done some theorizing as to their origins. "If you look at Canadian history in general, we've always been torn between a British influence and an American influence. Just look at our constitution. It seems to me that there are a lot of people in Toronto who brought the seeds with them. Davy Love and the whole Blow Up crowd is a good example. And I remember in the mid-1990's, when Brit Pop exploded, it was on the radio. It wasn't Limp Bizkit and Korn on CFNY, it was Oasis and Blur. All I heard was British music and I dug it. We all did."
With a strong pedigree in hand and a string of solid live performances in their back pockets, The Daybreak will concentrate their efforts on finding label support once their new guitarist is in place. While their demos have been shopped extensively at home, Mukherjee and his bandmates wonder if the secret to breaking The Daybreak might just be found overseas. "We've focused on sending a lot on some of the British indies: Fierce Panda, Independiente, Hut Records. These are smaller labels but helped break bands like Travis and The Verve. If they liked those bands, they might like some of the stuff that we're doing. It's a shot in the dark but it's worth a try. Just look at a local band like the Hidden Cameras. They're signed to Rough Trade and are doing fantastic in the UK. Same with The Stills. They're doing decently in North America but in the UK, their singles are charting in the Top 40 and their album is moving units. That's the key—you have to go where the interest is in new music."
The Daybreak play Lee's Palace in Toronto on Thursday, July 22nd, 2004. For more information on the band, visit their official website at www.thedaybreak.net
Writer: Cameron Gordon