Wassabi Collective likes positivity, hair metal 

Band plays Whistler Friday

Buddha, that fun-loving sage, once said, "All that we are is a result of what we have thought." So apt! So true! And it's a sentiment that the fun-loving Wassabi Collective has taken to heart.

"The world is what we make it, right?" says guitarist, Brent "Gisto" Hongisto. "So many things are out of our hands and really it's all about perspective, right? It's all about what you put into life is what you get out of it."

So positive! So sage-like! And the band - made up of Gisto, vocalist Melissa Meretsky, drummer Jimmy Lewis, Rahj Levinson on keyboards and Andrew McCormick on bass - have been hammering that message for a decade.

Gisto admits this mope-less approach to songwriting has been influenced by their home in Nelson, a bubble of town if there has ever been one, bursting with creative types and alternative thinkers. There's a positivity that swells from between this section of the Selkirks and Wassabi Collective has made a career of channelling it and taking it on the road.

"We try to make people feel good," Gisto says. "We try to give them an experience where they feel elated when they finish dancing, or when they've finished the album. We've put messages in there that are crucial for the advancement of people's individual pursuits and spirits. We try to empower people with our music."

With their latest album, 2010's Get It , they take it one step further, with lyrics bent on exorcising the listener's bad vibes and maintaining the good ones. And if you're not getting the message with the words, Gisto says you'll get it with the music. Touching on funk, hip-hop, even a little hair metal, while built upon a never-failing pop formula, Wassabi Collective is B.C.'s answer to No Doubt.

"Pop music's like the lowest common denominator, for musical tastes," Gisto says. "Because of its simplicity, it'll eventually break you down and you'll be singing along no matter what.

"It's not that I want to embrace shitty music but I think there's something to be said for music that can really reach a huge group of people rather than music that focuses on one tiny sub-genre."

The seeds of the Wassabi were planted back in London, Ont., when Gisto and Meretsky met when they were teenagers, playing together in impromptu drum circles in the park. Years later, after Gisto had moved to B.C., he saw Meretsky performing with the Wassabi Collective in Nelson and he asked if he could join the band. He moved to the band's then home base in Victoria and helped move the band to Nelson shortly after.

For the last six years, Meretsky and Gisto have headed a revolving door of musicians and built a steady following in Nelson. Gisto says that while the city has been great for cultivating a creative mentality and maintaining a vision, it may be time to move to a bigger city and take their popularity to the next level.

"Really, you have to go somewhere else to gain that popularity," he says. "Even an artist like Bob Marley, people in Jamaica would say he was one of many talented reggae singers but he blew up because he was developed by Chris Blackwell and was sold to America and Europe as a superstar reggae singer."

Will they be successful? Well, if they follow their own sage-like advice, anything's possible. At the very least, they'll have spread a whole lotta good cheer, wherever they end up.




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