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A Splendid Talk with... Square Boys

Band Members (Left to Right): Ian Tulloch, Jared Goldman, Nathan Dell-Vanderberg, Brian Walters, Julian Nalli, Jon Hyde

Artist: Square Boys

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Peanut Gallery: Sound

Artist Rep: Nathan Dell-Vanderberg


My boy! Welcome Nathan! I’m really excited to exchange words with you about this exuberant instrumental ensemble! To start off, what is Square Boys all about? What constitutes a boy to be “square”?

Square Boys is about digging into the history of video game music like a DJ digs for deep cuts or even how an ethnomusicologist delves into the musical history of a foreign culture. I wouldn’t say we’re snobs though, we search for nuggets that inspire a good party from old and new, popular and unknown, all of this while embracing the attitude of cult B-movie culture. I’d say that cult flavour comes from our off-kilter interludes and mirrored geometrical anthropomorphic stage personas.

And to answer your second question, what constitutes a boy to be “square”? All you have to do is make a pit stop at this burger joint in the East end of Toronto by Donlands station called Square Boy. Rip a game on their tabletop arcade, get a greasy burg, fries and a pop for $5.

Who makes up the band membership? How do you all know each other?

Picking apart this Megazord brass band contraption, you get Brian Walters on Trumpet, Julian Nalli on Alto Sax, myself (Nathan Dell-Vandenberg) on Trombone, Ian Tulloch on Sousaphone, and Jared Goldman on Drums. A bunch of us crossed paths earning our music nerd stripes at Humber College with the exception of Ian Tulloch who came into the fold while Nathan and him were playing with Lemon Bucket Orkestra.

You have given yourselves the impressive enduring title of “Toronto’s Premier Video Game Party Brass Band”. This is a fantastic jumping board descriptor into the music the band performs… all through brass band instrumentation! Why did you guys feel compelled to start this kind of music group?

We live and breath music with brass bands these days in Toronto and we wanted to explore the outer limits through the group. I personally wanted to take some of the lessons I learned from some of my favourite bands in Toronto that I play/played with and mash them together. Julian and I play with Fat as Fuck which enables the band and audience to lose all inhibitions through strange masks and hazmat suits. Lemon Bucket Orkestra pushes boundaries of energy levels, speed, and crowd invasiveness and interaction. We really wanted to take the best parts and create a new beast.

Could you talk in finer detail about what eclectic styles Square Boys belts out?

Eclectic is right on the nose really. I write the arrangements for the group and have some favourite angles to lean on, but it is a wide breadth of styles. I really enjoy taking inspiration from the Caribbean, styles like Soca or Dancehall. I also spent a bunch of time digging into early 70s Deep Funk so you can pick out a handfu