By Laura Collins // Photo by Andrew Parmelee
When CeVILAIN frontman Cliff Menzies first saw drummer Andrew Parmelee performing with his then band Crossing Jane at the Mountain Man Festival, it was love at first sight. Well, for Menzies at least.
He had just relocated back to Ottawa after living in Toronto area for almost 10 years, and after playing in various bands since he was 15-years-old, he had decided to give it a last kick in the can and form a band, which in his own words would be his “swan song” in playing live music.
Originally a three-piece blues rock band inspired by Jack White and other similar ensembles, CeVILAIN played some shows but things didn’t seem to kick off. When the two other members decided to call it quits, Menzies contacted Parmelee to see if he would be interested in joining the band.
“When I saw Andrew play at the festival I knew I need to have that guy drum for my band, so I’m just going to see if I can sneak in and steal him. He was the best drummer I had ever seen. When I asked him, he initially said no, but after a year of persistence, he finally said yes, and after we jammed together, we just clicked,” Menzies said.
The band found a bassist, and went straight to Parmelee’s home studio to record some of the material Menzies had written over the years. “Hush”, which is currently getting a fair amount of radio play at the local rock station Rebel 101.7, was recorded first. Then came the rest of the band’s new EP Rise. Around the same time the band’s bassist left the band, and Parmelee’s band Crossing Jane decided to go their separate ways.
“I was very insensitive about it and I messaged Andrew to say I was really sorry to hear the news, and under the same breath asked if I could message CJ’s front man Joel Lefebre to play with us, and Andrew was like “too soon man, just give it a minute,” Menzies laughed.
CeVILAIN was still without a bassist, but had found its big powerhouse with two singer/guitarists to front the band, so they decided to turn to social media to find the addition to their rhythm section. Lefebre didn’t have success with Kijiji, but one night after playing around on his phone, he came across with bassist Evan Davis’ profile on “Friends you may know” section on Facebook, and the rest is history.
“We had been sitting on the EP for a while before we figured what the hell we were going to do with it. We were kinda in a limbo, and needed to get the guys trained for the songs since we had shows coming up. Joel had to get on board and write his own parts as a fourth member of the band, and we also went from having a one vocalist to having three, which is awesome,” Parmelee said.
Despite three members of the band used to being in front of the stage, Menzies says there is zero ego in the room. The band also does all of their recording and album designs in house, and enjoy having a full control of the end product. This is also the case with CeVILAIN’s first EP Rise.
The band is releasing one song from the album each week during November, and the full album on the last day of the month. The plan is to release another album, a vinyl record of four songs, in January 2019.
“We are very proud what we did with this EP, and what we’re doing right now with the new songs being released in January, is so much more evolved. Having Evan and Joel join the band and being as involved as Andrew and I have been for the past year has created such a big, cohesive sound. They have brought in their own voices and influences, and I can’t wait for the next thing to come. We want to evolve as much as we can,” said Menzies.