Depending on who you ask, No Frills is either a fantastic or totally sketchy discount supermarket in Canada. It also happens to be the name of one of Toronto’s most exciting indie rock supergroups. Featuring members of familiar Toronto acts like Rapport, Grounders, Hooded Fang, and Twist, No Frills blend warm, lo-fi indie rock with their dry sense of humour to touch on darker subject matter.
No Frills — the band — is led by Daniel Busheikin, who spent much of 2020’s sudden periods of isolation laying down the foundations of guitar melodies and soundscapes that would eventually become songs for No Frills’ forthcoming debut album, Downward Dog (April 2022). One of those songs is the bright and welcoming “Copy Cat.” Williams had a bit of difficulty matching the somber lyrics with the upbeat, funky vibe of “Copy Cat,” so he called on band member Maddy Wilde, who is also a part of synth-pop outfit Rapport, to take a crack at the lead vocal. “Unsurprisingly, she killed it,” Busheikin says. “Maddy is the best and everything she touches turns to gold.”
“Copy Cat” comes accompanied by a cartoony music video by illustrator and animator Angela Kirkwood, whose style is best described by Williams as “Yellow Submarine meets Schoolhouse Rock! meets Mr. Men.” We caught up a bit with Busheikin to chat about his grocery habits, DIY recording techniques, and general influences for Downward Dog.
Where are you right now and what did you do today?
I am walking on a treadmill and I have just completed eating an apple. I gave some turkey and giblets paté to a cat that lives in our backyard we call Fat Head. He looks like he’s not doing so well with the cold weather. I’m worried about Fat Head, RANGE.
No Frills is also the name of a shitty grocery store chain known for its notoriously terrible lighting. Where do you guys like to go grocery shopping and what does an average haul look like?
I actually do shop essentially only at the No Frills at Dufferin Mall and think it’s pretty good! I’m surprised you’re digging on the lighting. I’m not at candlelit dinner, I need to make an exact judgment about how green this avocado is. I eat a lot of chickpeas and bran flakes (at separate times).
What are some other bands in your periphery that people should be paying attention to?
We have a very intertwined periphery and I’m happy to shout them out. Rapport is Maddy’s other band, and includes our drummer Jonathan. Jonathan also drums for Ducks Ltd. these days, who are very good. Evan from Ducks and I are also part of the band Grounders, which is how I met Bucky (other guitarist) because Grounders played shows with his band Twist and I was like, ‘This band is great and I am enchanted by the guitarist.’
There are a lot of other great bands in Toronto that we are friends with/connected to – I started writing them and it got out of control so I’m only going to mention Slash Need cause they just put out a couple new tracks. They make, like, post-apocalyptic minimal dance music for anxious sex freaks. I don’t know if they would like that description, but seeing them live was probably my favourite live music experience I’ve had … maybe ever?? And I don’t even really like shows!
Your new album is called Downward Dog. Does everyone in the band do yoga?
I think we all do at least a little bit. The bastardized western form of yoga, of course.
What’s your favourite yoga position?
Whatever gets the farts out, my dude.
What are some of the themes of “Copy Cat?” From the lyrics, I’m getting conforming to society’s “standards.”
Maddy has described the song as being about wanting to embody someone you admire, and I took that to be in a romantic relationship context but actually this broader social context is a great reading. I’m going to switch over to your interpretation from now on. I have some bones to pick with society, believe it or not!
Where did the inspiration for the scratchy cartoon style of the “Copy Cat” video come from? How involved was the band in the video’s storyline?
I found Angela Kirkwood on Instagram and instantly fell in love with her style, and she deserves that credit. I was thrilled that she agreed to work with us. I kind of just threw a few potential ideas at her: the idea of a copycat, a literal cat, and maybe a dog in reference to the album title Downward Dog. She came up with the rest! (I would make a chef’s kiss here if this were in person).
Who are some influences for No Frills and the upcoming Downward Dog album? “Copy Cat” reminds me a bit of Alvvays.
I think Alvvays write some fine tunes but I wouldn’t say they’re an influence. But actually, Chad VanGaalen, who did an amazing job mixing Alvvays’ first record, has inspired me for a very long time. I would also say R. Stevie Moore, The Flamingos, The Monkees, The Smoke, Daniel Johnston and Pavement/Stephen Malkmus.
One of the aspects of the indie bedroom pop sound is a creative DIY approach to the creation of the songs, but where did you get the idea to sing through a mask with a toilet paper tube around the mic?
The toilet paper tube is apparently something Mark Linkous did for the Sparklehorse records, and I must have tried it once and dug the vibe. The mask was because I don’t own a pop filter but it also ended up lowering some of the higher frequencies, which I liked.
What’s your plan for this spring/summer? Is there a tour in the works?
We have our album release show on April 16 at The Monarch in Toronto, and another show at The Garrison on May 18 supporting the amazing Dorothea Paas. Wanna come? Beyond that, not sure yet. Maddy will be touring with Born Ruffians, and Jonathan will be touring with Ducks Ltd. If I can sneak in some time to get us all together for a tour, that would be great. It’s tough to plan things right now, given all the uncertainty.