Best of bands 2015: Dear Rouge

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      Dear Rouge arguably didn’t need any help from a major label. The duo of Drew and Danielle McTaggart (they’re partners in life as well as in music) landed a single in the upper echelons of the Canadian charts before they even had a full-length record out, let alone a label.

      Now, with the powerhouse backing of Universal Music, Dear Rouge’s debut long-player, Black to Gold, is taking the band’s crackling, synth-fortified pop-rock to the masses. (Well, even more of the masses.)

      Best local release other than yours: [Danielle] “Yukon Blonde’s On Blonde. We chose that because we heard the single on the radio, ‘Saturday Night’, and there was just something so great about that song. It just had such great feeling. The synths were really amazing. And we were just like, ‘Who is this amazing band?’ And it turned out to be Yukon Blonde, so then we checked out their whole album and it’s all just really cool. Right up our alley. It’s kind of got the ’80s feeling to it. They’re really talented guys, really great guys, and we just respect their journey.”

      The year’s best gig: [Drew] “We were kind of floored by Alabama Shakes up at Squamish [on August 9], because we were able to watch them out front-of-house, so we got to hear their sound, and then we were able to go side-stage. They’re playing on this great big stage and they’re tucked in together—like, really tight—and it was just one of those moments where you just saw this musicianship on-stage, and dedication to it. But they still were putting on a show, because it was so great from a musical standpoint. And then Brittany [Howard], you have to watch her when you see them. You can’t leave. You’re like, ‘What is she gonna do next?’ ”

      Best album ever: [Drew] “I always like to change this question to ‘What are you listening to right now?’ I don’t want to sound generic, but the Beatles’ Rubber Soul is my favourite record, just front to back. It’s when they really started on their new path to creativity, when they were expanding as a band—as they started doing drugs. It was also coming from their pop-acceptable side. Between that and Revolver—but more so Rubber Soul—it was the cross-paths of where they were heading to creatively and where they came from. It was just beautiful.”

      Francesco Aquilini’s paying—Where’s dinner? [Danielle] “We picked this place that we just heard about. It’s called Steveston Pizza [100–3400 Moncton Street, Richmond], and they have this pizza [the Seenay] that’s worth $850. We thought that was hilarious. We just wanted to know why it’s worth that much, so we would choose that $850 pizza. When would you ever feel like spending that much money on pizza? But I do love pizza, and it’s one of my favourite meals.”

      In the spirit of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “I Really Like You”, who do you really, really like? [Danielle] “I really, really, really like Steve Bays from Hot Hot Heat. For one, he has some amazing, beautiful, curly, luscious locks. And, more importantly, he is a very good guy, and for all his experience and all his skills and all his talent, he’s just so down-to-earth and likable and real and honest. I think sometimes you meet musicians who have had that much experience and they’re egotistical and have some kind of air about them, and he just is a really good human. I strive to one day have the same qualities, including the hair.”

      You won Lotto Max. Where’s your club opening up? [Drew] “Danielle and I love the Diamond [6 Powell Street] for cocktails. We go there frequently. We look at that spot below the Diamond, and there’s nothing there except for a convenience store, and that’s where we would make this sweet venue, club, live-music bar. That would be amazing. With the Diamond on top, too, for the specialty drinks.”