Fresh Meet

Friendly Fire

All it took was a few helping hands to make Montreal's THE STILLS into the next sizzling hipster band.

If who you know is just as important as what you know, then this connected band should have no problem getting noticed. Signed by Uberchic magazine and music entrepreneurs Vice Media (whose founders happened to be friends of friends), and having just finished a series of dates with Interpol (also buds), the Stills are hooked in tight with some of the Northeast's highest-ranking hipsters. But the band, whose full-length debut, ''Logic Will Break Your Heart,'' comes out Oct. 21, is quick to downplay how down they really are. ''People like to make a big deal of connections,'' asserts frontman Tim Fletcher, ''when they really shouldn't.''

The ties go back to Montreal, where Fletcher, 25, Dave Hamelin (drums), 22, and Oliver Crowe (bass), 22, played in metal, punk, ska, new-wave, reggae, and soul bands throughout their teens. Three years ago Fletcher and Hamelin gave a desperate homeboy some money in exchange for his four-track machine; inspired, they dabbled in songwriting. Two other friends persuaded them to get serious and even signed on as the budding band's management.

Enter a stranger: Guitarist Gregory Paquet, after an awe-striking audition, joined as axman last April, and the Stills were complete. Their disaffected, hook-laden brand of jangly indie rock (think the Smiths, Pixies, Belle & Sebastian) had several labels giving chase when hometown heroes Vice Media elbowed their way into the band's good graces. ''Instead of being like, 'We are gonna nurture you [and] pay so much attention to you,' they were like, 'If you don't sign, we'll break your legs!''' jokes Fletcher.

Vice, best known for the irreverent, standards-bashing magazine of the same name, first ventured into music with the licensing of the critically acclaimed Streets album last October. But the Stills are only the company's second proper signing and the pressure is high. The release of the pensive ''Rememberese'' EP this sum-mer ramped up anticipation for ''Logic.'' Suroosh Alvi, the 34-year-old cofounder of Vice Media Group Inc., thinks the timing is just right. ''Bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Rapture, and Hot Hot Heat opened it up, and it's time for one band to shoot through and pop,'' he explains. ''Obviously, we are banking on the Stills.''

Spoken like a true friend.

Originally posted Oct 17, 2003 Published in issue #733 Oct 17, 2003 Order article reprints