Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Jamie Salloum Bio: The evolution of AWOL and The Casanova Playboys

For a band name like AWOL, you would expect brains in a blender. The question is, what are you going to say, really? Soldier runs away. Can't find an escape. Alas, there is Jamie Salloum. The only one who can make the word 'national' sound like a swear word. But let's start at the beginning. In late 1997, 14 year old Jamie Salloum entered a province-wide battle of the bands. Recruiting his younger brother Nathan Salloum and friend Zack Yerxa, the boys called the group Nidus. With enough luck, they managed to receive the first place prize out of twenty aspiring bands, winning recording time at Powersound studios. Ironically, Nidus was the youngest act in the competition.

The champions recorded the winning single "Rotten" and the band was officially born with all rites of passage. In the next year and a half, the group formulated an intense sound. By the summer of 1999, Nidus changed the name to AWOL. Jamie was popular in the city music scene recording bands in his studio, putting on shows and other fun musical endeavours. The live performances and bursting energy created a buzz in the streets. The first bootleg demo "Rednecks Have No Fun" was released in October 1999 at Punk Rock Cafe for $5 a copy.

AWOL flew to Vancouver in March 2000 to record the first self-titled album with Jonathan Fluevog at Vogville recording. The studio sessions challenged the youngsters but they prevailed on. High school continued and AWOL morphed into the hallways handing out flyers to the shows. Some of the coolest local bands made way into Jamie's Basement recording studio. By September, Jamie recorded the first batch of demos to be sent to the record producer in Vancouver. The goal was to make a mega commercial album that could not fail. By the end of the year, AWOL won first place at another Battle of the Bands. Mitch Miller joined the group as the second guitar for a more heavier sound. In May 2001, Mitch quit and was replaced by Adam Thompson. In June, Jamie graduated high school.

Jamie immersed himself more into the scene and as a result, more opportunities came for the band. He also drummed on the side for punk rock group Chick Maggot and The Opposed that had great followings. AWOL's last demo cleverly titled "Um Ya" was recorded in 2002. Adam quit the band and moved on with his life. Zack quit high school to work at a radio station. Nathan continued school and wrote his own material. After a failed relationship in early 2004, Jamie decided to reunite AWOL once again. They played a reunion show and proceeded plans on recording "Ladies and Gentlemen" at Grandmother Sound in Edmonton. The band decided to change the name again to The Casanova Playboys. The young starlings flew to Vancouver and mixed "Ladies and Gentlemen" with Jonathan Fluevog. The tracks were sent to Colorado to be mastered by Dominick Maita at Airshow. The sound of the album exceeded all expectations from everybody and the skies looked very promising.

The Casanova Playboys had to think big from the start. Zack called his long time friend Williem Manchuk to play keyboards. There was an instant connection. Soon after, Cody Nouta responded to an ad to play lead guitar. The group started jamming regularly. Radio interviews, industry shows, fundraisers and media response followed. The Casanova Playboys moved to Vancouver in September 2004, except Nathan. Cody left after a couple days. The band was forced to replace the entire front line. Jonathan hooked up promising guitar player Joshua Parrett. Jamie, Will and Zack lived in a shabby house in East Vancouver, jamming in the basement every night, recording at Vogville during the day and meeting industry contacts at the clubs. Played with The No No Spots at the Media Club and The Rub at the Railway. Things seemed to be going right for The Casanova Playboys, other than they were running out of money fast. Drum techs and assistants are expensive in the recording realm.

A proposed performance with the Scissor Sisters hung on the fridge. Zack left back to Edmonton to pursue a music director job. Jamie and Will moved back home leaving Josh behind. The band went on hiatus for a while but reunited on talks of recording a record. "Low Noise" was to be completed long distance fashion. Jamie flew back and forth week after week tracking vocals. The album was a work in progress and took considerable time to finish. By the end of 2005, production was coming to a close and Fluevog mixed the album, sending the songs to Sterling Sound in New York City to be mastered by Ted Jensen. Finally, a rock solid album. The Casanova Playboys found the pot of gold waiting for them. In the spring of 2006, Josh moved to Edmonton and Mitch came back to play bass. The fivesome performed and promoted constantly.

Once again, the group was on fire playing every week all over Canada with bands like Electric Six, Jeff Johnson and Kelly and the Kelly girls. The Casanova Playboys were respectively named Band of the Month at the local rock station and other various pop stations around the country received the single "Burlesque". The Casanova Playboys charmed the critical media with a wave of good press and reviews. The audience loved the band's fresh live sound and the path seemed clear. Unfortunately, personal problems and expected bad egotistical differences got in the way of the business. The band released "Low Noise" at the CD release party in January 2007. Within a couple of weeks, the band broke up and shows were cancelled. More coming business, touring opportunities and distribution proposition was axed. Zack decided to move back to Vancouver and Josh followed him after. Jamie, Will and Mitch continued life apart from eachother.

Jamie spent all of his time in the studio recording electronic pop music without his band. He started his new project called Jamie Stars Storyland producing an album in 2007. Soon enough, reality started drowning the young singer. In 2009, Jamie started promoting The Casanova Playboys again all over the web despite the absence of his counterparts. That led to more guitar playing and Jamie assembled an amazing catalog of acoustic songs. 2011 brought Mitch back in town forming a heavy trio that only lasted half a year. Since then, Jamie has kept the music alive for all to hear and plans on writing and recording more music in the future.