A Sunday afternoon with Oh No Forest Fires’ Rajiv Thavanathan
BY CARMEL GARVEZ
The singer and guitarist of Toronto’s indie outfit Oh No Forest Fires sure is quite the character. On a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon, I met with an addled Rajiv, who was desperately trying to recover from the previous night’s post-Cursive hangover.
Rajiv just returned to the city after touring with the Black Hat Brigade. After sending me a text message at three o’clock in the morning, we finally decided to meet at Bloor and Bathurst. The plan was that we would have lunch at a place called Central, a favourite of his, located behind Honest Ed’s. But, of course, nothing ever goes to plan. Central only opens in the evenings every Sunday.
The one thing that Rajiv made perfectly clear with me, however, is how he doesn’t make a point of following some form of structure in life.
After learning about Central’s hours, Rajiv was quick to suggest a picnic! In the park! So we sauntered to the nearby grocery store and purchased what tickled our fancies and headed to a small park.
Rajiv and I with our measly picnic, consisting of a tub of organic mango ice cream, spicy salmon sandwich, rice crispy squares from Starbucks, Gatorade, and Rajiv’s meal purchased from some sketch restaurant along Bloor St that sold laxative tea bags
After maybe an hour (or two) of discussing about everything under the sun, including Rajiv’s dilemma of applying to med school and becoming a doctor, we decided to wrap it all up. Feeling unsatisfied with his ramblings, Rajiv decides to phone a friend to remind him of a time when he ever said anything deep and profound. Unfortunately, the friend was only able to whip out a story of Rajiv eating pizza crusts off the ground.
But in the end, I still thought it would be fun to send Oh No Forest Fires a questionnaire. So, I did!
Who are you and what do you do?
We are Oh No Forest Fires from Toronto, Ontario, and we play rock music sometimes mixed with other kinds of music! My name is Rajiv Thavanathan and I play the guitar and sing.
How would you describe your music?
We have previously described our sound as “guitarded” but other people have said we sound like “guitar driven indie pop” or “guitar destroyers of the future” and things of that nature. It’s poppy rock music with moments of noise and dissonance and most of the time it’s pretty damn loud. Adam (drums) hits really hard. Ouch.
Name 3 artists that have a major impact on your sound.
I would saaaaaay, I don’t know. The Band. Cap’n Jazz. Wintersleep. That’s three right? There’s gazillions!
What’s your favourite song to perform?
Hmmm I wouldn’t say I/we have a favourite. Actually maybe we do. Right now we have this new song that is tentatively titled “Who Will Curl Our Hair When Our Hairdresser is Gone?” and it’s really fun to play at practice AND at shows. So actually yeah, that one. I’ll record it soon, I’m sure.
How do you go about your day?
My day is much less structured than most peoples. I wake up and after that who knows, I might do some of my part-time-job’s work on my computer, I might play guitar, I might record some demos, I might cook, I might get drunk with a friend, I might drive to Barrie/Montreal/Buffalo, I might play with my cat, I might sit and read, I might drink too much coffee and throw up. There’s a million options really hahaha I guess to answer your question “haphazardly” is probably the best description.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
People keep saying I look like a lion/bear/werewolf. Something hairy. So maybe that. But I’d love to be a dog. I’m incredibly loyal, and I like doing absolutely anything ESPECIALLY licking people. I think the band could be a pack of dogs. Dogs with ADD.
Which do you prefer: baths or showers?
Shower. No question. Who BATHES. LAAAAME.
What do you usually do before a show?
I don’t have any pre-show traditions really, usually I’ll stretch for a bit. Probably have a glass of scotch or something. Usually the guys will get some food, like a slice of pizza or something, but I can’t do that or I’ll throw up while playing.
When was the last time you purchased an album? What was it?
The last album I purchased was by a band called Telekinesis, I think it’s self titled. It’s really good.
What’s currently in your CD player/turntable?
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Television, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Hollerado, Fox Jaws, Sheryl Crow, Wilco and that song by The Verve Pipe “The Freshman”.
Describe your best tour memory.
Probably our northern Ontario tour. On top of a pole dancing stripper contest that we had vs. The Ghost Is Dancing, we ended up passing out in a parking lot. And then, the next night in Sudbury we played an all-ages show at a ski lodge and talked to little children as we were all hungover and then afterwards we got locked in at the ski hill and had to wait in the dark by ourselves until someone from the city let us out. And then I ended up molesting a cat. That was all pretty funny.
Describe your first concert memory.
I think the first big show I saw was the band Live (think “lightning crashes”) in St. John’s. It was pretty fun I guess. I think that’s it. WAIT! That’s a lie, I totally saw Fred Penner when I was a kid. THAT SHIT WAS AAAAWESOME.
If you weren’t a musician today, what alternate dream job would you have?
I would be a Doctorb!!!! (not a typo, I said Doctorb).
What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
Vanilla. I’m boring. Or secretly, I want to be white.
If you were stuck in a deserted island with no one else but your band mates, who would you eat first?
Matt Del Buono. No question about it. Although Brock’s leaner, so he’d probably taste better. But yeah, Matt.
Have you seen the SUMMERWORKS window display at Soundscapes?