Last week we mentioned the undergoing renovations and rebranding of Il Motore. This week we dug a little deeper to find out about it’s past and projected future.

Six years ago, the local hang out Zebra Bar stood at 179 Rue Jean-Talon Ouest, until Meyer Billurcu and Brian Neuman of Blue Skies Turn Black (BSTB) spotted the space as the perfect location to host the events they booked and promoted. Sala Rossa, their go to venue at the time, was often booked solid and Montreal had very little to offer in terms of similar capacity venues.

Thus, Il Motore was born.

Meyer and Brian go way back. They started BSTB together in 2000 for somewhat selfish reasons; to make sure the bands that they wanted to see would come to town. They noticed a trend in which touring bands would play shows in New York and Toronto, but often skip Montreal, mainly due to the fact that there wasn’t anyone there to book them. They aimed to fill that void and that they did. A notable early booking was The National —who played at an empty Barfly. The naming of Il Motore was calculated. BSTB had an unofficial partnership with Casa Del Popolo and Sala Rossa and hoped that the Italian in all three venue names would lead people to group them together.

Now that Il Motore is under renovation, we are looking towards the future.

The Main sat down with Meyer to discuss his vision for the newly improved Bar Le “Ritz” P.D.B. (aka. Punks Don’t Bend).

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What wasn’t working with Il Motore that lead to the renovations?

From the get go, Il Motore was thrown together pretty haphazardly. Sala needed a space to circulate their booking requests and BSTB needed a space to book our shows. Not much thought went into the room’s aesthetic or design. We painted, built a stage, bought some booze and opened as soon as we could. Most of the work was done ourselves. The bar itself was actually the one used by Zebra bar. Our partnership dissolved a few years back, and since then I’ve been running the place solo. When I took over the space I really started to notice it’s short comings. I’ve had dreams of renovating but had neither the time nor the resources. I wouldn’t say that something in particular wasn’t working, but there were things that definitely could have, and now will be, improved.

What physical changes will come with the renovations?

You’ll have to wait and see all the changes once we re-open. I can say that I think people will like the layout of the space much more in the new configuration we have planned. The functionality of it will be much better. I believe the show-going experience will be much better for audience and bands a-like.

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How do you expect these changes will better the venue?

Having new partners and employees who can share in the administrative responsibilities will improve the way the room is run. I’m now going to be able to concentrate on curating the venue’s bookings, which is something I was never able to do before as most of my time was devoted to the minutiae of managing a bar. Thierry and Efrim are both incredibly resourceful and creative people and they are putting a lot of time and effort into completely revitalizing the space. We’re also indebted to Annika [Krausz, of Lawrence], as she offered us a great deal of advice and know-how while we were formulating our design.

How did Efrim and Thierry come to be your partners?

I’ve known these guys for a long time because BSTB has been doing shows for both of their bands for years. They’ve been interested in opening up a bar for a while, and much like with BSTB’s inception, this project arose pretty spontaneously. They were looking to open up a space in Parc-Ex, I was looking for new partners, and it came together. I’d been approached by prospective investors in the past, but was never able to sign off on all of their ideas. With Thierry and Efrim, I was totally comfortable with and stoked on their intentions for the space.

What exciting shows should we be marking in our calendars?

We’ll be hosting three POP Montreal’s shows: Technical Kidman on September 18, SOLIDS & Whirr on September 19th, and Deafheaven and NO JOY on September 20th. We’re planning a big opening party sometime in early october. Stay tuned for details!

Come check out the upgraded space at the official opening party on October 9th. One thing that can be said with certainty is that those who liked the venue before, will absolutely love it now.

Cover photo of Mac DeMarco by Dominic Berthiaume and others from the Il Motore Facebook page.