By: Curtis Sindrey –
When the hit single “Steal My Sunshine” topped the charts in the summer of 1999, it propelled Canadian rap-pop band Len to overnight superstardom. But it was in the subsequent years that the band, specifically leader Marc Costanzo, grew to detest their fame.
“The one hit wonder thing is difficult to understand because in one sense people are saying that if you only made one hit song you have to quit music because of that,” said Costanzo in a phone interview. “What do you want me to do, quit, because I’m not going to have another huge hit? We’re never going to win the lottery again, but why can’t we just keep going?”
At the height of Len’s popularity and throughout the recording of their fifth album “Diary of the Madmen,” the success of “Steal My Sunshine” continued to haunt Costanzo.
“With Diary of the Madmen we were just trying to figure ourselves out again after a song like “Steal My Sunshine” which ruled my life where I couldn’t walk down the street without somebody screaming in my face, it starts to take over a bit,” said Costanzo.
With their new album It’s Easy If You Try, Costanzo doesn’t have any expectations for the band and is content even if the album sells only a few thousand copies in Canada. “The fact that this is not going to be huge and will maybe sell 2-3000 records in Canada is a blessing because the last thing I need to do is to be that guy again or be in the public eye because it doesn’t work with my lifestyle,” said Costanzo.
Contanzo has maintained a DIY mentality throughout his 20+ year career because “we’re doing something that hasn’t been particularly relevant at any one point, but if you think about it dance music is huge right now, but we’re not making dance music, nor a kind of commercial pop that has a certain type of formula, so you end up being in a vacuum.”
He notes that Len has maintained the same writing and recording process that they’ve always had, which includes Costanzo and his sister, Sharon, trading ideas back and forth and then working with “random people like friends and great musicians and over time we put songs together.”
“The last thing I need to do is to be that guy again or be in the public eye because it doesn’t work with my lifestyle.”
“It has always been a laptop and a couple of microphones kind of vibe because we’ve never been a big studio kind of band,” said Costanzo.
Produced by Costanzo, the album appears to be fun, lightweight and carefree on the surface, but Cantanzo asserts “all of the songs are really personal but it just sounds like a lot of fun and it doesn’t sound personal because it’s only the moment that you record it when it’s personal.”
Throughout the album, Costanzo mentions two particular songs that felt explicitly personal including “Feels Like Home” that deals with Costanzo and Sharon while they were on MDMA (Ecstasy) one night and they were looking at each other and not saying a word but still communicating. “It’s My Life” chronicles the last 10 years which served as the beginning of Costanzo getting “out of all the bullshit from the past.”
Len’s new video for the single “It’s My Neighbourhood,” serves as a love letter to Toronto and features many well-known landmarks. But for a band who only recently created an official website and social media channels it’s unclear whether this will serve as a resurgence for the Canadian rap-pop group who have been MIA since 2005.
Costanzo admits that there might not be many new Len albums in the near future. “We’re just too busy, we’re not hanging out as much as we used to and right now we’re all doing our own thing. This is as good as it gets,” he said. While the future is uncertain, Costanzo wants to make another album soon “because we’re in that zone, and because they have “eight songs that we’ve already fucked around with.”
Len wasn’t created to be a serious band. You wouldn’t have found them speaking out against the War in Iraq in 2003 or any of the issues that affect us today. “Len isn’t meant to change the fucking world,” said Costanzo. “It’s not suppose to be anything more than people getting together and forgetting about trying to be cool and to help us to have fun, make music and express certain things so sure it’s sugar, it’s bubble gum, but that’s why I love making it.”