The pounding rain and the dark night sky made it hard to find. Hidden behind the Concord Trailways bus station, around a big white warehouse was a small, rundown building where Kyle Gervais was getting ready to learn a few tunes. He was practicing with his 90s cover band The Whatever. Songs, including “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States of America, could be heard throughout the night echoing in the lot during their band practice. This is what Kyle does on a normal basis. He produces music to surprise his audience.
Gervais, junior media studies major, is better known as the front man for the band Cosades, which he was the front man for several years. The band was signed to Labor Day Records, the label run by WCYY DJ Mark Curdo, and current home to Portland band Lost on Liftoff. The band was taking off, winning awards and playing shows in New York and Boston. Gervais said a huge accomplishment for him was playing with Rustic Overtones when the reunited in 2007. He explains that it was a “learning experience,” for him. The majority of bands that are formed break up before they can really make their mark on the world. Cosades was an experience that taught Kyle a lot about the music business, but also made him want to give up music for awhile once the band broke up.
These conflicts made Gervais re-evaluate his life goals and encouraged him to go back to school. He decided that focusing on school might be a better option than completely relying on his music. He enrolled at USM and started, again, toward a degree in media studies. While all of his core credits are done and over with, he still has an array of electives to take over the next year or so.
Just before the start of his first semester back at USM, he received a phone call from a friend of his, Richard Fortin, who was in the band Alias Grace. Fortin wanted to start a side project and asked Gervais to be the singer. He jumped at the chance to create music again without the amount of responsibility he had before.
Gervais came up with the name Grand Hotel and started writing all the lyrics to their songs. Like most bands, the weeding out of band members happens quite often, conflicts arise and different styles emerge. This difference in style is what forced the band to replace a member, though it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Six months after the replacement they were playing multiple shows as well as recording a six song EP.
Although Gervais is doing more work then he expected, he is enjoying the process. “I’ll put down the foundation and then they can add whatever they want to it,” said Gervais. The band works as a team to accomplish a surprising end result.
“The crack addiction I have to Arts and Entertainment is the surprise. It is what it is.” He explains that Nickelback is a great band and they have a certain niche in which they work, but they don’t leave that niche and that’s what drives him nuts. Nickelback does not give him that element of surprise. Gervais doesn’t want to put out an album full of the same song; he wants to change it up and surprise listeners every time the next song comes on.
Gervais’s musical preferences range from the Gorillas to Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan. He can’t put his preference on any genre. “I’m totally down for a good song, but I wish the people who put together these good songs could make a good album from beginning to end,” he said.
A pet peeve of his is when people won’t listen to a song in its entirety; the chronic song skipper. When he buys a CD, a lot of times he buys it based on what the band has produced before but he won’t listen to any of the singles on the radio. “I want to listen to the album and have all the songs be potential singles,” Gervais said. This goes back to the element of surprise that he wants to add to his own music.
He makes a point not to print lyrics in the booklet; he never even writes his lyrics down. He explains that “I have never cared about lyrics.” They are the least important part of the music to him and yet he is the one who writes all of them, “I want to leave it open for interpretation.”
The pattern, rhythm and sound are what need to be the basis of every song, he said. Grand Hotel doesn’t limit themselves to one type of sound. “They have a sound that they work with but they want to keep building boxes outside of the box,” Gervais said. They want to keep pushing themselves to make surprising music that people haven’t heard before.
His critical nature is something that that he is working on. He says “I would love to be a music critic,” because he is so critical of himself and the music that he produces. “To enjoy something so much, then to go do it is just weird. You don’t know if your work is as good as you want someone else’s to be.” This is the one major dilemma that he has: because he is so critical of other people’s music, it makes it hard for him not to be critical of his own. Hopefully, it produces a better final project.
He works full time at a music store, goes to school year-round and plays in three different bands currently. “It’s all about the music man, as corny as that is,” he said.