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Boys Night Out

Boys Night Out

Rock group

Hailing from the Toronto suburb of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, rock band Boys Night Out has been put into the screamo, post-hardcore, pop-punk and modern-rock genres. The rock band has indeed fit into all those bins at the record store because they embody a little bit of each. From their youthful, aggressive, and visceral early screamo material to their more experimental prog-rock, Boys Night Out never wanted to fit in one category. "When I think about it, we're just a rock band," Boys Night Out lead singer Connor Lovat-Fraser told the Toronto Sun's Sherri Wood. "Or a punk band. Stoner-pop-punk-murder-rock-and-roll. There. Done. Sold. New genre!"

Formed in blue-collar Burlington, Ontario, Boys Night Out began as a four-piece with lead singer Lovat-Fraser, bassist Dave Costa, drummer Ben Arsenau, and guitarist/singer Jeff Davis. The group actually started in 1998 but then broke up after their first show. They started back up in 2001 and rushed a recording for U.S. label One Day Savior. In 2002 they released the six-song EP Broken Bones and Bloody Kisses. The songs were a mix of screaming post-hardcore angst and pop-punk melodies that were heavy, hard, and melodic. The lyrics were dark and a bit morose, but the songs were memorable. "With Broken Bones and Bloody Kisses, Boys Night Out proves that a spoon full [sic!] of sugar helps the arsenic go down," wrote Exclaim!'s Chris Gramlich.

Although Boys Night Out were still young, their confrontational yet energetic style led them to sign with New Jersey label Ferret Music, home to heavy bands such as In Flames and Poison the Well. In September of 2003, Boys Night Out released a more thought-out and well produced album, Make Yourself Sick. In Canada, the video for their single "I Got Punched in the Nose for Sticking My Face in Other People's Business" gained the band a new set of fans. The group was a few years older and better at their instruments, and Make Yourself Sick was a bit of a shift from the group's first EP. Elements of post-hardcore were still intact and the song subjects just as bleak, but the music had catchy choruses. While there was some backlash from fans who thought the band had sold out to the mainstream, the popularity of Make Yourself Sick landed the band on the Vans Warped Tour.

Boys Night Out toured so extensively to promote Make Yourself Sick that by the end of it, drummer Arseneau left the band. Guitarist Andy Lewis and drummer Brian Southall soon came on board. The men also added a female into the mix with the addition of Kara Dupuy on vocals and synthesizers and guitarist Shawn Butchart for their second full-length album for Ferret. In April of 2005 the reconfigured band went into the studio with producer Gene "Machine" Freeman (a metal producer with merits from King Crimson and Lamb of God). They wanted to create something different and challenging. Machine had a hefty hand in molding the band's songs into a new direction and working with Lovat-Fraser's singing voice.

"Music for us is a representation of our personal growth," Lovat-Fraser told ChartAttack.com. "If I'm not growing as a person and I'm still saying the same thing and I'm still as angry as I was seven years ago, with music being a cathartic thing, you're doing something wrong." What the band came up with was Trainwreck, a concept album. The record's theme came from a story that guitarist Davis had been writing. Davis and his writing partner Lovat-Fraser built songs and lyrics around the story of a man's descent into madness. The lead character, The Patient, murders his wife during a nightmare. His remorse turns into an obsession and eventually into his own madness.

"When it came down to deciding what we should write about lyrically, we thought we would write poppy, catchy songs and off-throw them with really horrible lyrics," Davis told Vue Weekly's Mike Larocque. "It's a bit of juxtaposition, and it sometimes is lost on people, but we are trying to tell a story with our music, too." The album's 12 tracks are titled with only one word each, from Track 1: Introducing, to Track 12: Dying. In July, Boys Night Out released Trainwreck. "Heavy on richness, diversity and proggy bits and light on the frontman's trademark scream, Trainwreck is an ambitious project and a ballsy release to a genre-specific audience," wrote Wood.

American magazines, including Spin, took notice of the band's progressive album. "While Boys Night Out's sophomore set, Trainwreck, maintains one singular storyline, the musical accompaniment varies shifts quite deftly from the scratchiest of tonsil shredding screams to delicate, slick rock balladry," wrote Peter Gaston on Spin.com.

While some fans still yearned for the screaming, in-your-face hardcore music Boys Night Out had played in the past, others were intrigued that a band would even attempt an album like Trainwreck. It earned the band a Juno nomination in Canada for Best New Group. "We made a relevant, 2005, rock record—and I do mean ‘record.’ This is a bona-fide album; all 12 songs are crucial," Trainwreck producer Machine told MuchMusic.com. "When I think back to other ‘album’ bands, take Pink Floyd, for example—they were influenced by what was going on around them at the time. Boys Night Out, they're young kids; so they took their Warped Tour and emo and metal influences, some of the classic rock that's influenced them, and in 2005, made a real, legit, relevant, today rock record."

The following year the band released the DVD Dude, You Need to Stop Dancing, which featured a live concert filmed in Toronto along with documentary interviews with the band. Drummer Arseneau returned, while Kara Dupuy left, before they went back into the recording studio, this time with legendary rock producer Lou Giordano. "It's chorus-based, hookier, straightforward rock," guitarist Davis told Straight's Adrian Mack, about their fourth album. "When we put out Trainwreck," he continued, "we knew we were going to lose a good portion of [our] fan base. We also knew that the people who can get behind a band looking to not put the same record out over and over again, those were the fans we wanted to keep."

In the summer of 2007, Boys Night Out released a self-titled album, which ChartAttack.com called "their most fluid album to date." Now Magazine's Bryan Borzykowski described the band's work: "Boys Night Out aren't afraid to shift genres. They seamlessly move from straight-up hardcore or punk to more traditional rock all over this record and there's no shortage of fist-pumping anthems," he wrote. On the band's Web site, guitarist Davis stated Boys Night Out's ambitions: "We are focused entirely on writing honest music that is straight from the heart. We're not out to sell ourselves, or trick anybody. We just do what we do … and make no apologies for it."

For the Record …

Members include Ben Arsenau , drums; Dave Costa , bass; Connor Lovat-Fraser , lead vocals; Andy Lewis , guitar; Jeff Davis , guitar. Former members include Kara Dupuy , vocals, synthesizer; Rob Pasalic , guitar.

Group formed in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, c. 1998; released Broken Bones and Bloody Kisses for One Day Savior, 2002; signed to Ferret Music, released Make Yourself Sick, 2005; released Trainwreck, 2005; released DVD Dude, You Need to Stop Dancing, 2006; released Boys Night Out, 2007.

Addresses: Record company—Ferret Music, 258 Livingston Ave. New Brunswick, NJ 08901. Web site: http://www.ferretstyle.com. Web site—Boys Night Out Official Web site: http://www.boysnightout.com.

Selected discography

Broken Bones and Bloody Kisses, One Day Savior, 2002.

Make Yourself Sick, Ferret Music, 2003.

Trainwreck, Ferret Music, 2005.

Boys Night Out, Ferret Music, 2007.

Sources

Periodicals

Exclaim!, December 2002; July 2005.

Now Magazine (Toronto, Ontario), June 28-July 4, 2007.

The Straight (Vancouver, British Columbia), September 20, 2007.

Toronto Sun, July 24, 2005.

Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Alberta), May 12, 2005.

Online

"Artist of the Day: Boys Night Out," Spin.com, http://www.spin.com/features/band_of_the_day/2005/08/050829_boysnightout/ (January 23, 2008).

"Boys Night Out Don't Care if You Don't Think They Scream Enough Anymore," ChartAttack, http://www.chartattack.com/DAMN/2007/06/2605.cfm (January 23, 2008).

"Boys Night Out," MuchMusic.com, http://www.muchmusic.com/artists/bio.asp?artist=1736 (January 23, 2008).

Boys Night Out Official Web site, http://www.boysnightout.com (January 23, 2008).

—Shannon McCarthy

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