Gus Van Go hits Toronto with Megative

The Brooklyn band will perform their debut album at Longboat Hall this month


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Brooklyn’s Megative play Longboat Hall on Sept. 28

In the ’90s, one of the most audacious and engaging bands in Canada was a Montreal group dubbed Me, Mom and Morgentaler. When they played their unique take on Jamaican ska, principal singer Nasty Gus held court, engaging, — and once in a while enraging — concert-goers.

When news broke that Gus Coriandoli, now known as Gus Van Go, esteemed and Juno Award–winning record producer for the Stills, Whitehorse and many others, had teamed up with ex-Stills principal singer Tim Fletcher along with Brooklyn hip-hop production duo Like Minds and reggae MC Screechy Dan, well, needless to say, we were intrigued.

Megative has a long origin story made up of late night road trip conversations and words spoken at parties on rare occasions over years between Van Go and Fletcher, when the two worked on Stills projects. The two shared a love of music that combined reggae with the spirit and politics of punk.

What if the Clash made a second Combat Rock record (an album both consider one of their favourites)? Why wasn’t there a followup to the Specials second, less acclaimed, record More Specials? 

“We were always, like, at a time with the Clash releasing double-sided albums all the time, why isn’t Combat Rock a double-album?” says Van Go. “We’d jokingly be saying one day we’d make the second side of that album.”

Megative had its blueprint. And eventually, the two set out to work on their dream project.

Van Go was based in Brooklyn and had worked with Jesse Singer and Chris Soper of Like Minds in the past and knew the combination was a good one. But they needed that voice, the chatterbox MC, to propel the conversation forward like their favourite music of the past. They found it in longtime MC Screechy Dan, of Ruff Entry Crew.

After Van Go sent the first few songs to his old friend at Last Gang Records, the band was immediately signed.

Their self-titled debut album, released July 27, is lovingly rooted in the musical traditions of the past but peppered with a beats-oriented soundscape that is very much of the present. 
Think the Clash meets Gorillaz.

Lyrically, Fletcher offers up songs that range from images of a dystopian future in “Yeah Yeah Yeah” to good old-fashioned existential dread on songs such as on the band’s groovy first single, “More Time.”  

When the band performed live the last time they came through Toronto, Gus may have dropped the mohawk from the ’90s and is no longer the principal singer, but he still prowls the stage and engages with the crowd like few performers can. This is a man who loves a crowd and loves performing. And it’s infectious.

“I’ve always been a maniac onstage; the spirit takes me,” says Van Go.

“I let loose and have fun, and that’s been my philosophy for what I do onstage since like 1990. I have no other way to be.”

Word to the wise, enjoy this band while they are here. As Van Go explains, everyone in the band has other projects on the go, and membership is fluid, so who knows what is next for them. 
Megative plays in Toronto on Sept. 28 at Longboat Hall. 

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