Busty & The Bass band photo. Courtesy Michael Sayegh.

Amongst the many bands formed in college, Busty & The Bass currently stands as one of the most popular groups to recently graduate from a Canadian university. The band formed at McGill and has been playing around Montreal and Toronto for the past five years. Upon the release of their latest album, Glam, we chatted with the bassist and trumpeter about their life in university.

The Varsity: How did Busty & The Bass come into existence?

Milo Johnson (Bass): “We all happened to meet each other within our first week or so of going to McGill, and our guitar player (Louie) organized a jam session/party at his apartment in Montreal. Almost every one of us jammed together on that first week of that first night of school, and it was pretty silly, pretty fun, and after that we decided to keep playing together and one way or another arrived at the name ‘Busty & The Bass.’”

TV: Was it difficult to gain popularity, how fast did you guys see yourself get a lot of fans and followers? 

MJ: “That wasn’t really our concern so much as it was to play crazy music that people would want to dance to, no matter who was there. It was just sort of a steady thing, and we just so happened to play a lot in our first two years at McGill. We played a lot of basements, a lot of campus bars, that kind of thing. Bit by bit people started to latch on and it seemed like we were doing something people liked. So because of that we have our devoted fans of McGill and of Montreal now.”

Scott Bevins (Trumpet): “At least for the first couple of years it was never something that we saw doing after school, so it was nice because it was this super low pressure, really fun, really unique group. For a while it was just an outlet, and not something we needed to put a lot of stress onto. Everything was super organic. It wasn’t like ‘we need to get Facebook likes.’”

TV: When did you realize this wasn’t just an after-school thing, and was actually a legitimate path that you guys were going to take?

MJ: “I think it was a really gradual process. Everybody saw different future things as a result of different experiences. It wasn’t ever like one thing happened and now everyone’s like ‘we’re going to do this for the rest of our lives.’ It was like, one thing would happen, and one or two people would start talking about long term [plans], and from there something else would happen that would make another person get more invested in the long term, but I think it was definitely a gradual build up of things that would happen.”

SB: “The more time we spent together as nine people and once we started going on tours together and started getting regular attendance at our shows, people got really invested in our music. I think those kind of things were what would change our minds and make us think ‘hey, we should really keep going with this. This is something cool.’” 

TV: What was it like to balance university and a band at the same time? Was that difficult?

MJ: “It was definitely hard. We were in a fortunate position that we were all in the music program, so our teachers were moderately sympathetic. If we had rehearsals or class we could get subs if we needed to. Not everybody had that luxury. But granted, when we had one gig that meant finding seven subs. Like, a thing came up that brought us downtown for a weekend and that meant finding a trombone player, two trumpet players, and a whole rhythm section. So it was kind of a nightmare in that way, but it was definitely something we could work around. It was difficult, but it was possible because we were music students.”

TV: What are you working on now?

MJ: “Well right now we’re in the middle of writing a bunch of music. We spent the last couple of months doing song writing, and now we’re doing a whole bunch of prepping and we’re going to record a full-length album. That’s at the front of our minds right now. We’re going to be playing a few shows here and there between now and the rest of the winter, but mainly we’re going to be focusing on the new album.”

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