(Editor's Note —Recently coming off their first live performance since 1999, 13 dead canaries is back on the scene. The band performed July 6, opening for Buffalo punk legends Green Jelly. Now the Canaries are prepping for more shows this summer, including an upcoming July 23 gig at Timeless Babez with Broken Locker, Jamie Veins & the Quick Fix, and Hopeless Otis. We talked to the band recently about how it feels to be back together and making music again. And, we thank them for their time and humor. 13 dead canaries is: Angelo Fantrazzo, lead vocal and guitar; Mario Fonzi, drums, and Jay Deuro, bass and vocals. — Photos of the band on the homepage, and here, by Mary Fantrazzo.)
1120 Press: So, this year marks the first time since 1999 that you guys are playing together. Give us a history here: How did you guys find each other and form back in the day and how long were you together? Why did you stop? And how did you decide not only to regroup, but that the time was right to do so?
ANGELO: Mario and I were in a band called The Wretched, recording songs on cassette for a few years before the main band got together. Mario joined Virus X for a while, and I started the first version of the Canaries. Some of those songs got reworked and recorded for our 1998 CD release. That’s the one on all the streaming services right now.
JAY: Why did we stop? Well, Mario went to jail for stealing a car. So that made it harder for him to play the drums. There were other things too. The 1999 version of Angelo was manic and drove us nuts trying to get the band signed to a label and, (I forgot about this part), he kicked me out of the band because his girlfriend wanted to get someone else. It’s fine. I’m fine. So, we all just went to do other things and had other interests, like chasing girls and HVAC and working in warehouses.
JAY: It’s okay.
‘JAY’ (but actually ANGELO): Angelo is a great guy now.
MARIO: Don’t tell them I went to jail.
ANGELO & JAY: We won’t.
ANGELO: Why was it time to get back together? Why not? Earlier this year we all reconnected in person, and online, and the answer to “do you want to play together again?” was “Yeah!’” I didn’t have to convince them, at all.
1120: How has it been going so far?
JAY: Even better than before. I think we were all a little surprised how well it went from the very first practice.
ANGELO: It’s like we never stopped. We found out really quickly that it was more like a pause than a break up and regroup. It felt very natural to be back.
MARIO: It’s been exciting getting to play live again and do it with people you have fun with.
1120: You guys have music out on the streams. How does that feel — especially to be reaching a whole new audience and generation?
JAY: A few years ago, I Googled the band’s name and realized there was almost nothing online besides a Facebook post I made where I saw our sticker somewhere years after we broke up. I didn’t even have a copy of our own CD. Lately I’ve been picking up local band’s CDs in thrift stores that might be lost to time. Having our music and videos available for anyone to watch at an instant is pretty amazing compared to the old way.
ANGELO: It’s bizarre because that music held its place in time, and now it’s finally really released. It’s like it was never released and we opened it like a time capsule.
MARIO: Going back and listening to what we did in 1999 makes me realize those songs sound timeless. I think it has something for people of all ages. A lot of people I talk to love that CD, and don’t know it’s over 20 years old.
1120: Is there any difference that stands out to you as a band in terms of The Scene now and back in the day?
ANGELO: It used to be way different to find a place to play. I can remember talking to bar owners and trying to convince them to book us before we had a CD. We did it, but it was tough. Almost everything was in person.
JAY: Honestly, if I had to rate the local scene right now, I’d give it a ‘not bad.’ There are some great places to play and a lot of great bands, but there’s room to grow and get bigger. I’ve met at least four other bands that have gotten back together from years ago and some new, young exciting bands that just formed this year. I want to believe that there’s a real groundswell happening right now that will only continue to get bigger.
1120: Is your “approach” or “philosophy” about what you’re doing different now compared to 25 years ago?
ANGELO: I don’t think our philosophy is different. I think we’re smarter now in regards to the decisions we make, and how we spend our time. We always want to put on a show that we would want to go see. People want to see an energetic entertaining show and that’s our goal.
MARIO: I agree, our 20-something year break was more like a pause, and I think we’re better at a lot of things now.
1120: You guys are very active in supporting other artists and I know Jay gets out a lot to shows. What’s your overall impression/thoughts of the local music community?
JAY: I love the local music scene. Full stop. There is only one rule if you want this area to thrive with art and music and that’s Support Each Other. Support musicians, artists, photographers, venues, local business, reporters, zines, and everyone involved. Maybe other scenes are more competitive and that works for them, but here the key is supporting each other. Everyone lift everyone up and watch them succeed. No jealousy involved. We all win.
1120: Anything else you want to add that we haven’t touched on?
MARIO: We just had a great time opening for Green Jellÿ at Mohawk Place. It felt good and I think we sounded even better than we did at our last show 23 years ago!
ANGELO: We have a few new songs now so we’re making plans to go back into the studio to record and release new music. Watch our socials for that announcement.
JAY: We want to invite people to come out to see us live and say ‘hi’ and get a free sticker! We’re playing Timeless Babez on July 23 and Stamps on August 13. Both shows have some great bands you don’t want to miss.