MR! MOURAY releases new single “Cats Can’t Fly” (Interview)

Mr! Mouray

Toronto’s Mr! Mouray Releases Beatles + Badfinger-Influenced “Cats Can’t Fly” From What’s The Stouray Album

Hooks and harmonies. Jangly guitars, groovy rhythms, and influences include the Beatles and Badfinger. No drama, no gimmicks. Just good people and good tunes. For Toronto’s Mr! Mouray, it’s all about making music with catchy melodies and a classic rock-and-roll spirit and doing it on their own terms.

Bandleader Simon Bedford-James formed the group upon deciding that after 30+ years on the music scene, it was time to re-evaluate his role as a songwriter/performer, leave what had become an unsatisfactory situation, and step into the spotlight as a frontman of a new project. He put together a crew of trusted veteran musicians to help arrange and interpret his original songs, and together they’ve become a power-pop force to be reckoned with.

Joining singer/guitarist Bedford-James (formerly of Swedish Fish, Moving Targetz, The Last Band, and more) are his ex-Moving Targetz bandmate Jaimie Vernon on bass, Nelson Pereira (The Last Band) on guitar, and fellow Swedish Fish alumnus Craig Adams on drums.

“Mr! Mouray is the best band I’ve ever been in. We’re just having fun,” Bedford-James says. “We’re all on the same page now and when it stops being fun, that’s when we’ll call it a day. Until then we’ve got a lot of material coming. All we can hope is that people like the songs.”

After launching several EPs and singles over the past few years, Mr! Mouray’s full-length record, What’s The Stouray (with former member David Otanez on drums), was released at the tail end of 2022 on Vernon’s Bullseye Records and made it on International Pop Overthrow Festival impresario David Bash’s best-of list. Mr! Mouray proudly takes part in the festival each year and plans to perform extensively in 2023.

The New Wave-influenced single “Cats Can’t Fly,” featuring Bedford-Jones’ trademark witty lyrics and the band’s knack for infectious arrangements, was released with an accompanying video produced by Vernon that depicts a couple’s penchant for arguing over trivial matters while avoiding real communication.

“Dogs don’t laugh at photographs you show them. They find it trying. I know you’re lying,” Bedford-Jones sings in this chronicle of a troubled relationship that seems to be headed for a bitter end.

With the incredibly prolific Bedford-James’ wealth of original material to work with and Vernon’s record-label experience to support their efforts, Mr! Mouray is looking ahead to a bright future after a pandemic hiatus.

Throughout the new year, the group will be releasing more singles and videos and, most importantly, enjoying the ride.

“We’re also at the age where we’re not putting up with any bull. We’ll stream songs. We’ll play live if and when we want. We’ll make videos. We’ll do whatever tickles our fancy,” Vernon says. “Imagine being in a weekend garage band full time. That’s Mr! Mouray.”

Watch the video for “Cats Can’t Fly” below and learn more about Mr! Mouray via our mini-interview.

Care to introduce yourself?

Simon Bedford-James (lead vocals, guitar) and Jaimie Vernon (bass, backing vocals) from Mr! Mouray here! We’ve been friends since high school – that would be over 40 years now when we attended Lester B. Pearson C.I. In Scarborough, Ontario – and formed our first band together in 1983 called Moving Targetz. We started our own record label (Bullseye Records of Canada) and released our first 12” EP in 1985. Simon moved on to form his own band, Swedish Fish, later that year and that band would eventually see Jaimie joining as well as guitarist Nelson Pereira and percussionist Craig Adams. Fast forward to 2018, and Simon would assemble Mr! Mouray with Jaimie and Nelson, and most recently, Craig has joined the ranks to help promote the band’s second full-length release, What’s The Stouray.

Tell us about the process of writing “Cats Can’t Fly.”

Simon: I had started shortlisting songs for the second album, and I had three I was working on trying to get middle bits and arrangements. I had been slogging away for three days and getting frustrated at the slow progress. Then I took a break and said to myself, “this is supposed to be fun, not drudgery,” I just wrote the first two verses of “Cats Can’t Fly” out of thin air to break up the hard work. Then I was stuck trying to write a bridge, so suddenly “Cats” had become hard work. Nothing worked. I created a placeholder chorus, and that’s all I had. When it came time to finish the songs, I realized “Cats” had been telling me it was done for a while. I just hadn’t been listening. The song was written from the position of someone enjoying their own suffering a bit too much. I’m not sure if that comes across or not, but it was a reflection of my overly sensitive approach to romantic entanglements that I had when I was younger.

What’s it like being a musician in Toronto post-COVID?

Jaimie: The struggle has been tough in terms of getting live shows to play because many of the best venues in the city took a fall during the pandemic. Where we had been playing Hugh’s Room and C’est What? we’re now scrambling just to find a room where we can showcase the new album and the rest of our repertoire. People must think we’re this studio concoction when it’s the farthest from the truth. We’ve had to play Hamilton recently just to keep up our chops. Hopefully the warm weather will bring about more possibilities. Hell, we’ll play your BBQ, folks!

Who was the first Canadian artist to blow you away?

Simon: Paul Anka. I was a huge Buddy Holly fan as a kid, and I was super impressed that he wrote my favorite song, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.”

Jaimie: Lawrence Gowan. My best friend’s cousin was in Gowan’s first band Rhinegold. I saw them play at the Scarborough Town Centre in 1977. I wanted to become a musician right then. He’s in Styx now. Hell of a showman.

You’ve been making music for a while now. What’s one piece of advice you can offer to those starting out?

Simon: Write. Write Write. Oh, and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. We got good at this because we’re always rehearsing. It shows up on stage when the time comes to play live.

Jaimie: Surround yourself with people you can trust. And never burn bridges in the music business. Look at this band. We’ve managed to stay connected for 40-plus years. Now we’re more mature, wiser, and better at what we do. It’s a legacy we can stand behind.

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