Top Less

 Calm before the glitter storm.

 by Elliot Chan

lettering by Gina Mackay

lettering by Gina Mackay

Formerly published in Discorder Magazine. October, 2013

 

Exterior: the sound of thunder and a flash of lightning as Vancouver’s night sky presents another complementary performance.

Interior: sound check for Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party’s CD release concert continues at a casual pace.

I sit alone in Venue on a turbulent Thursday night as technicians walk back and forth through the brightly-lit dance club. I dismiss the shattered illusion of show production and patiently wait for my interview with the eccentrically named power-pop band. After attention on each instrument and three practice songs, the seven group members make their way offstage.

When the band’s first EP came out in 2010, they enjoyed a quick rise in popularity and developed an enthusiastic fan base. Three years later, they’re releasing their first full-length.

“It really packs a punch,” says TGLTP’s frontman, Michael Schindler. “People are used to our shows being really intense. Our album represents that in many different ways, but it’s not done by sheer energy; it’s done more meticulously by adding more arrangements and textures.”

“It’s like neon camouflage sexual dysfunction,” chimes drummer and vocalist, Benny Schutze from the other side of the green room. The rest of the band turns to Schutze, chuckle, and request an explanation. “Because the neon camouflages the sexual dysfunction.”
Up a narrow staircase, behind the stage is Venue’s ironically blue green room. I sit nuzzled in the corner between bass player Ian Bevis and Schindler, while the other five members arrange themselves intimately on couches and chairs in the cramped closet-like space. It’s a cozy sanctuary for the night.

“Put him on the guest list, but don’t let him come up here,” the group debates whether to offer VIP wristbands to friends of friends attending the show.

“I’m down for a super-strict wristband rule,” says Tyson. “This needs to be tranquility.”

“We get pumped up,” says Schindler. “But we don’t want 30 people in here partying while we get prepared. Also you want 20 minutes before you play to get in the zone.”

It’s unusual observing a band named Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party proposing rules and allocating privileges. But they’ve learned through past experiences that guests sometimes take advantage of the band’s hospitality. Obnoxious third parties become distractions, precious costume changing spaces become occupied, and most importantly: complimentary beverages vanish. They aren’t uptight; they’re simply professionals.

photo by Yu Su

photo by Yu Su

Though they’ve come to an agreement on the backstage regulations, there are still other ongoing disputes — namely, their band name.

“We shortened it [TGLTP] for all intensive purposes,” says Schindler. “Top Less is just easier for everyone to say… but we will always be Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party.”

The name derived from a Kid Alex song that Schindler thought was called “Topless Gaylove,” but was actually called “Young Love (Topless).” “I just kind of screwed it up.” The band smiles over the ridiculous outcome. “And Tekno Party is just a party with everyone raving it up. Partying with sparkles in your hair.”

“And in your beard,” guitarist Kevin Fairbairn points to the leftover glitter in Schindler’s facial hair. “You need to shower.”

“I showered today!” says Schindler. “It doesn’t come off of me, I don’t understand what it is — I have a weird skin thing.”

“It takes a couple days even if you shower… unless you have a luffa.”

As children of the ‘90s, TGLTP indulged in hip-hop, classic rock, and funk — none of which they replicate today, but still have a large influence in the music they make.

“Some of the guitar writing we do, you can definitely feel some of the classic rock coming through,” said Tyson. “We’re not making phat hip-hop beats, but there is still a hot dance groove. There is still a sexy bass.”

Once a week TGLTP gather in their shared studio space to work on music, but seldom would you see the seven together in a non-music environment. “We’re friends, we hang out, but it’s music — always,” says Bevis. “Some of us DJ together, some of us produce together, and some of us write stuff —”

“I sometimes go over to Benny’s house and hang out when he’s in his bathrobe,” Schindler interrupts, “because that’s the only time he’ll hang out with me.”

The long awaited self-titled album by TGLTP is now available for purchase and download on iTunes, but having time to perform is the real accomplishment. Although their CD release tour was brief, expect them to be on the stage again real soon.

“Even though we were doing a ton of work,” says Schutze, “and people were always asking about [the album], it was like being in a sexless marriage. The live show was like fucking, it’s the culmination and the climax of what we get to do together. But when you are not doing it — that gets to be the feeling.”

With confetti, balloons, and sparkles in the forecast, TGLTP dress accordingly. Golden spandexes, silver jackets, or even onesies — but they’re careful to avoid wool products. The tinsel tempest may capsize ships and bring down mountains, but it won’t apologize to your glitter-clogged shower drain and laundry machine. But it doesn’t matter, because shimmer is the new clean.

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