City of Glass frontmen Michael Champion and David Phu are bound by a number of things: their feelings about Weezer, the time they tried to bleach their hair but instead burned holes in each other’s scalps with peroxide, and their love of fellow Vancouverite Douglas Coupland (who authored the book they happened to take their band name from).
The guys didn’t always think they’d end up in music, but as they became progressively involved in musical projects together—including a Lit cover band back in high school and some underground DJing, they realized it was the one constant thing they were interested in doing.
“It made the most sense that we should at least really give music a try,” says Phu, sipping on a chai latte at a West Broadway eatery. “It wasn’t like ”˜Let’s go be musicians.’ It was more like ”˜This is all we’re doing right now, let’s just go to music school.’ ”
After graduating from Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, the two started City of Glass in 2008, putting out the five-track EP Equations in July 2009. Today, they are weeding through over 150 of their own demo tapes, hoping an upcoming summer tour will narrow down the song choices on their next album.
“I think another thing that we really want to do in the next while is road-test new songs, which we didn’t have the luxury to do in the past,” says singer-guitarist Champion. “It’s nice to have 30 songs that we bring out on a live set and test over the road so when we go back to the studio we have songs that are either like ”˜Oh yeah, nobody likes these,’ or that we can just record.”
While Phu and Champion are the sole creators of City of Glass’s songs, bassist Georgia Korba and drummer Alex Cumming play with the band on-stage. The main boys, who cop to having straight-shooting personalities, direct the project, though.
“We decided that if we’re going to do this seriously, we have to make it as streamlined as possible,” Phu says of their decision to keep the songwriting to themselves.
“To be honest, we really like having that control over the writing,” admits Champion.
Though Equations is only a five-song disc, the minor-key licks in “Wait” and “An Interest in Architecture” suggest the band is onto something. Champion’s clear and chilling vocals complement the easy guitar rhythms and thrumming bass lines, harmonized with Phu on backups. Each track blends seamlessly into the next, creating a cohesive final product. The band’s indie-pop sound evokes the likes of Sweden’s Whitest Boy Alive and, at times, the U.K.’s Bloc Party, but the guys are reluctant to credit either band with contributing much to their sound.
“It’s interesting to see what other people hear out of our album,” Phu says. “Sometimes I agree with the feedback we get, but we don’t really sound like our influences.”
Incubus, Minus the Bear, and Savage Garden are among the other artists they’ve been compared to. And, okay, they do have sonic similarities to Incubus.
Still, comparisons don’t do the band justice. And, indeed, the main goal of City of Glass in the near future is to get back into the studio, where it can continue to hone its own sound.
“It would be great to start recording, because we’re always writing,” Champion says. “We have plans for a summer tour, hopefully a fall tour as well. We were looking at going down the coast of the States. That’s where we’re at right now.”