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Rajiv Thavanathan is leaving town. You can catch his last show in St. John’s Saturday night at The Republic, where Secret Connection will be joined by two other great bands: Pockethands and Pet Vet

If you haven’t heard of Secret Connection, this little 4-song EP might make you fall quickly in love with them.


So I approached Chad about maybe putting our show on Saturday in the event listings, or doing an interview and he emailed me a bunch of questions that might be useful to both himself and the reader. They were okay questions I guess, but I unilaterally decided without Chad’s consent to alter them a little bit. I also took to the band book group to ask my bandfellows if THEY had any questions that they wanted me to answer, or that they thought people should know, things they wanted to get off their chest, etc etc. As it turns out, that was pretty useless and I got mostly ridiculous suggestions from them. But they gave me a few ideas I suppose.

Original question: “What brought you here a few years ago, and why are you leaving now?”

I see this as a question of motivation. About what growing up is like. When I moved home for school from Toronto I was harbouring a lot of resentment towards St. John’s, mainly because I was having so much fun in Toronto and I had a girlfriend there and I wasn’t really ready to leave. It was obviously wasn’t an overnight decision to move home, I had put quite a bit of thought into it. And no one forced me to do it. And despite this, I felt trapped here. What’s funny is that I never really had that feeling in undergrad, when I left it was more exciting than “I gotta get out of here.” The people around me at the time would probably say I took it out on them and that was probably really unfair. It took me more than a few months to find my place here again, and this band had a huge hand in it.

I was sort of hoping to avoid a needless chronologic biography of my life, but it seems I’ve failed, eh.

I’m leaving now for the same reasons most people leave – for work. Or extended training I guess. I finished my degree but I can’t really do anything with it without another couple of years. So I’ll be in Ottawa for the next five years. I don’t have the same impending sense of panic or sadness that I had four years ago when I moved back here, but I am certain that will kick in soon. It’s made easier by the fact that I’m excited for this next phase (I really love my job) and many of my best and most patient friends have all left over the past years.

Original question: “Tell us how Secret Connection — the name and the band — came together.”

Edited question: Was this band ever meant to REALLY do anything? Isn’t this essentially a side project for most members of this band?

Six different people have played in this band, and I don’t think this band was ever anyone’s number one priority. In many ways it’s the perfect band for people who are at that threshold of “grown-up life” and “still desperately clinging to youth.” Although in 2011 we consistently met up weekly, now because of Robbie/Josh’s touring with Repartee and my being away on electives and all sorts of other life stuff we’re lucky to practice/write once a month. If that. It’s nice though, because we didn’t really want any more than that- just a reason to write and play some songs really loud. There’s something special about being a teenager or in your early 20s and all that matters in your world is your band, but our set of priorities was deliberately different from the outset.

Original question: “Have any favourite memories of your time in Secret Connection here? (You can use stuff here from the Facebook post!)”

Edited question: What are some things you have been informed of after a Secret Connection show that you have no memory of? Things that did or did not amuse/interest you?

Oh man, this list could go on forever. We played a pretty legendary show at the upstairs Republic which ended up being the worst thing anyone had ever seen. It’d be really great if I could blame it on bad acoustics or an underpowered PA, but the truth is I was just a little too out of it. To be fair we played a bit of a marathon set, and it started pretty good. But it’s hard to sound decent after 10 beers unless that’s somehow already built into your sound. Afterwards I was told we covered Broken Social Scene’s “Almost Crimes”, Hogan was playing keyboards with us even though I don’t think he’s playing a keyboard in his life, that kinda thing.

Another time just after George St. Fest last year, we were playing a late-night set at The Levee that was similarly spirited. This time it was intentionally so. We played a Barenaked Ladies tune! There’s a 10 second clip of it, and god it’s abysmal. Robbie told me that Tristan (who works there) said “I know these guys are good musicians, but man… this. Jesus.” The next day in our group iMessage, the guys were talking about how Tyler [Lovell, from Thee Internet] had played the entire set with us despite not knowing any of our songs. and I was like “WTF!? Tyler played with us?!?”

Original question: “What are you going to miss about St. John’s?”

I know this is a paper that is celebrates local culture, and in some other setting I would love to be part of that – but I can’t imagine anyone would be interested in what I have to say about this. I’ll miss my friends. I’m excited to live in a place with organized bike lanes though.

Original question: “Why should we all be at the show Saturday night?”

Edited question: “What kind of person might like to see the show on Saturday?”

I think maybe I’ve been too hard on people that come to Secret Connection shows. I was scared and frustrated when people (girls especially, I know that sounds terrible to say) would dance at our shows because I thought maybe it meant our songs weren’t thoughtful enough, and then I think even though we were playing the same songs I kept trying to present them in a way to alienate people just to make myself feel better about it. I think anyone that likes guitars, and fairly “loose” bands (that’s being generous haha) would like us. If you like the Replacements bootleg from their last show at Grant Park in ’91, then you’d probably like us.

It’s amazing how I can choose what the question is, and I STILL find some way to not answer it. We should have done a sit down.

So, no surprises this time. I don’t think. Not really. Some friends are singing/playing songs with us. It’ll be fun.

|– Here are the questions my band suggested I include in this interview–|

Chris Donnelly: Where was the first and last place you ate as a band?

Burger King, about 50 times. And then Portobello’s once. We had a gift certificate sitting on my desk for two years and we finally felt forced to use it because I was moving.

SP Callahan (Yeah he’s still part of our Facebook band group even though he hasn’t played with us in a year and a half. Well, actually, strictly speaking that’s not true because he did a show with me in Toronto in December 2012… oh wait, that was a year and a half ago. Never mind.) : What is your favourite song to cover and why is it wagon wheel?

Hahahaha it’s amazing that we have covered like 50 songs and he is TOTALLY right about this. Yeah, at that Republic show I mentioned above, we got my buddy Kyle (he’s from Sussex, NB and a huge Neil Young fan) to get up and play Wagon Wheel with us. Obviously we had never rehearsed it before. It just ended up being this noise-jam while the poor guy played an acoustic and sang the song despite us. Afterwards he told me that he just kept picturing the live version of Via Chicago and that somehow got him through it. His girlfriend was less impressed because she thought we were making fun of him. Actually a lot of people did. We weren’t. We were just discovering what could be beautiful about Wagon Wheel. Turns out, it’s not much. And I say this as someone who recently finished reading the reissue of “Let’s Talk About Love” by Carl Wilson.

Chris Donnelly: If Donnelly [Rajiv: he’s speaking in the 3rd person for some reason?] has two gigs in two nights and one drum kit, what are the chances he will be able to get his kit out of the bar that he played the night before?

History shows that this has a likelihood of about 0.3%.

Chris Donnelly: Can I have a ride to practice?

Oh wait, I think that’s an actual question that Donnelly is asking me. Yes, Dondon, you can have a ride. If I don’t sell my car first.