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April 7, 2004

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Despite the fact that it took me 2 days to correctly pronounce the their name (and the first day doesn’t count because I was drunk), Despistado definitely left an impression on me. Having heard and seen them for the first time at Canadian Music Week, I was pleasantly shocked at the way they impacted me.

There have been a lot of impressive comparisons thrown around this band. International Noise Conspiracy, At the Drive In and Interpol have all been sited in trying to decipher a description of the band. I’ll throw another wrench into the mix and let you know they are opening for the PIXIES?!!? Their sound can be described as…well…let’s ask the band. “I’m REALLY bad at that,” admits Leif Thorseth, guitarist for Despistado. “Post punk with…I don’t know…” Yes even they can’t do it. Nor would they necessarily want to.

It may have something to do with where Despistado’s from. An apparent hot bed of music, coming from Regina has it’s own influences on the band and it’s music. “Regina has it’s own sound, not always this straight up pop punk sound. Not at all,” Thorseth says. With all the interest in playing music, the community is a tight one. “It’s not a challenging place to be a band, there are tones of bands in Regina,” Thorseth acknowledges. “We’re all really close friends and we are all very supportive. And I actually think Regina has a thriving scene. It’s a great place to be a band.”

But Despistado’s story is an unusual one for a Regina band in the fact that they are recently signed to Jade Tree records, who will re-release the Emergency Response EP in June and will be releasing a full length to follow in the fall. Thorseth continues, “One of the challenges [in Regina] is getting out there, getting your music heard elsewhere. There are no labels. It is pretty much a DIY kind of place.”

Having had the opportunity to play around town, tour most of the country, and most recently SXSW, Despistado have electricity to their live show (though the tour archives are just hilarious, even if you weren’t there: They are able to incorporate their interesting harmonies and timing with basic danceable rhythms. It’s quite interesting to see people confused as to why they are dancing yet they cannot help themselves. “Our lyrics can be serious and I hope people can hear them. I also hope people at our shows do hear the seriousness but can let go of whatever and enjoy and have fun. It really moves us,” says Thorseth. “Even if it’s like two people, oh I love it. I’ll just look at them and it’s like these two people are gonna like it ... or not. Just have a good time.”

Despistado produces some of the most interesting music I’ve heard in a while. And after speaking with them, I’m reassured that they deserve all the success that comes their way. I highly encourage anyone interested in being challenged by music to check out Despistado; live if possible, on record when available. Keep your eyes and ears open because you don’t want to be THAT person who missed the band playing a small club before they explode…


Gloria Hong