Down with Webster

Down with Webster

Kiss' Gene Simmons is not a man who is used to rejection -- just ask the 2,000 women the lithe-tongued lothario claims to have slept with -- but when the self-proclaimed God of Thunder set his sights on Toronto party-rockers Down with Webster as the initial signees for his newly formed Simmons Records, that's exactly what he got.

"To be honest, I don't think it was the right fit," DWW's bassist-keyboardist Tyler Armes says with a slight smirk. "Don't get me wrong, it was totally flattering to have Gene Simmons show up unannounced on every media platform possible to talk about us, but it seemed like there was the potential to lose control of certain elements and no one really felt like gambling at this point. Ultimately, we were already down the aisle with Universal/Motown."

Formed for a talent show in 1998, when the core members were only 13 years old, the seven-piece band has taken its sweet time delivering a major label album debut, the prophetically titled "Time to Win." According to Armes, the past 11 years of development were necessary for the band to find their sound and image while consistently working hard to build a party-driven fanbase in the notoriously harsh Toronto music scene.

"I think as we matured as songwriters, the songs got better, the live show got better and certain characters came into their own as artists," Armes recalls. "Investing some money into the thing: buying our own lights so that it actually looked more appealing instead of just showing up and playing with the venue's three red lights - we spent $1,500 on some cheap LEDs that made the whole thing have a much better look to it - and spending a few hundred dollars getting a banner made. Just making a small investment took the band to a level that kids were used to seeing only from bands that were signed, and we had the look of a band that was already signed. It was absolutely a 'if you build it they will come' philosophy."

And come they did. While Simmons was berating the industry for being weary of his credentials as a star-maker, Universal/Motown signed Down with Webster to a forward-thinking contract that allowed the group to record, distribute and release music in an unconventional manner.

"There is no point in releasing music the way band's used to: the album is dead," Armes declares. "'Time to Win' is a new type of album. We're contently writing new songs and the idea of not being able to put them out seems absurd, so we've been able to work out a system with our label where we are able to put out smaller amounts of songs for less money."

And while he's extremely proud of the seven songs that make up "Time to Win Pt. 1" - especially single 'Miracle Mile' which is an old song the label insisted on using - Armes is quick to add, "At this point the record is just a formality, our live show is what's important to us. It's not our top priority to sell records," a statement that surely would have driven the notoriously anti-drinking Simmons to reach for the Courvoisier.