We say hello

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 April, 2008, 12:00am

It's funny how sometimes the thing people are searching for the most can be right there in front of their faces.

Such has been the case in the musical career of Devon Clifford. He grew up in the relatively quiet confines of Abbotsford, British Columbia, and played in bands since his early teens.

But as the years passed, Clifford thought he had exhausted all the musical possibilities that were on offer in Abbotsford - having played with every musican and having had stints with every band he knew - and so he decided to pack up his drum kit and try his luck in downtown Vancouver. But it was from there that fate took a funny little twist.

'Abbotsford is a great place to grow up,' says Clifford. 'Lots of sport and lots of music if you want. I suppose it's pretty normal, though, for you to eventually get a little bit bored. But really, I simply left to go find people to play music with - I'd played with everyone I knew in Abbotsford.

'But then, about eight years after I moved to Vancouver, I found myself in a band with a bunch of people from Abbotsford. We'd all moved there and were looking for the same thing.'

The bunch of people were the four other members of You Say Party! We Say Die!, and when we reach Clifford via their manager's mobile phone, he's waiting in Vancouver for the flight that will take the band on a two-week tour of Asia, through the mainland, Hong Kong and Japan.

YSP! WSD! were formed in 2004 and have been carving a niche for themselves both in North America and through Europe with their frenzied, female-led dancy punk-pop, that hinges on the vocals of charismatic lead singer Becky Ninkovic.

Clifford says the music he played was always going to have a punk flavour. 'When I was about eight I was into glam rock, things that were passed down to me from older people. Then it was a little bit of rap with Run DMC and those types of bands.

'But then I discovered punk through hearing a band called Operation Ivy and there was no turning back. I didn't really listen to anything else but punk for about seven years. I've expanded my horizons since then but that's where it all started for me.'

YSP! WSD! follow a heady Canadian punk-inspired musical tradition, from the real-life heroics of the likes of D.O.A. to the mockumentary madness of the immortal Hard Core Logo, and Clifford believes it has helped his band's cause that punk - and live music in general - has a faithful following in his home country.

'Vancouver actually has a shortage of good venues to play, but in a way that's a good thing,' he says.

'It means that when there are shows going on, they are usually great shows because you don't get that much chance to play. There is a great variety of music in the city, too, and all those different sounds seem to influence and inspire everyone.'

Through his YSP! WSD! connection, Clifford has been able to head to the punk movement's spiritual home - London - as well as being able to strut his stuff in Germany and other bastions of the movement. He's always come away thrilled and a little bemused about how everything has changed since bands like the Sex Pistols read the riot act in 1977.

'I was thrilled that when we went to London we played at the 100 Club,' he says, of the English music institution. 'I consider that a pretty historic venue as far as who has played there goes. It was pretty amazing. It really was a highlight of my life.'

YSP! WSD! released their debut Hit the Floor! in 2005 and followed up with Lose All Time last year, both albums earning strong reviews from press at home and abroad.

Clifford says he's unsure how much is known about the band in Asia and what lies in store on their upcoming tour. 'I don't really know that much about the music scene out there,' he says.

'I've heard a few random bands through MySpace - like Car Sick Cars who I thought were pretty awesome. They've actually left us some messages on our MySpace page so it will be great to check out everything that is happening.'

Luckily for punters, too, Clifford also assures us the band have all their papers in order. The story goes

that some members of the group left for the US on a recent trip without the right visas, crossed the wrong authorities - and now the band are banned from touring the US until 2011.

'We won't make that mistake again,' he laughs. 'Everyone got everything right this time.'

Clifford has prepared for the trip by keeping himself awake for 24 hours straight so that he can sleep on the plane. But most of all, he says, he just wants to entertain.

'You can expect high energy whenever we play, we want people dancing,' he says. 'And we'll put

out the right vibes to get people to do that.'

You Say Party! We Say Die! with DP, 9pm, Apr 25, Grappa's Cellar, Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central, HK$200 (available at White Noise Records, 1/F, 4 Canal Rd East, Causeway Bay). Inquiries: 2591 0499