New Music 2009

Hooooly cow.

It feels strange making an apology right off the bat, but it has to be said.

Compiling the list of artists to cover in our second annual New Music Issue, we planned to cover the same number of groups as last year—11.

Within a day of contributors and friends suggesting fresh bands to watch, our list exploded to more than 20 groups. Then there were more. And more.

Well, we’re sorry St. John’s, you got us. We can’t keep up with your awesome-band-spawning ability, and we feel bad we can’t cover all of the great new music that has sprung up in the city over the past year or so.

But isn’t it cool to know that what you’re looking at now is just scratching the surface?

Text and interviews by Kerri Breen, David Keating, Shawn Hayward, Patrick Canning, Adam Clarke, and Elling Lien.

Antics

RAP
Show promoter Jason Winsor calls this Mount Pearl hip hop duo the “rookies of the year,” and Mike Simms and Curtis Hicks are indeed two local rappers who are leaving an impression on the small-but-growing local rap scene. And they’re only 16 years old.

Although mainstream rap didn’t hold Simms’ attention, after being introduced to artists like Cypress Hill and Immortal Technique, hip hop took hold of him in a big way.

“They really opened my mind and I learned to appreciate the art,” he says. That was back in grade nine.

Soon after, he was in his room recording acoustic guitar with rap lyrics over top. He and Hicks began writing what started as humourous verses in class… And things grew from there.

Simms says it was Adam Harding, of the local group Filthy Gentlemen who took the two under his wing and introduced them to people in the scene here.

They released an album in May, and a show with Prototype, 9th Atom, and Live and Direct is planned for August 1st at Loft 709. EL

[media id=50]


Aoke… Err… Lee Hanlon.

Aoke

CATCHY SYNTH POP
First there was nothing. Then there was New Wave. Then there was nothing again, and lovers of up-tempo, keyboard-driven rock music were broken-hearted. Or not.

Regardless, fellow synth-freaks need weep no longer, for Krista Power and Jud Haynes, the duo behind Mightypop, have dug out their keyboards for you. Joined by Mercy, The Sexton drummer Jamie March, The Gramercy Riffs’ Lee Hanlon on bass and synth-usiast Mark Bennett, Aoke (Ay-OH-kee) was formed specifically to appeal to your love of two things: dancing, and electronic bloops and bleeps.

For some, their first exposure to the group was at the recent Creature/Mark Bragg show at the Rockhouse a few weeks ago. Aoke was the opening act and won the crowd over with quirky, poppy instrumentals. It may have only been their second public performance ever, but the dancing crowd didn’t seem to mind.

While Haynes (who also played in Wintersleep, by the way) insists that Aoke have no plans to record and “probably never will” due to the varying availability of its members, one should not miss the chance to see them play. AC

[media id=51]


Photo by John Pike

Articuno

PROGRESSIVE MELODIC METAL

How did the group get together?
Paul, Damien, Ben, and I all grew up in Goose Bay together, the majority of us started playing music in high school. We’ve all been in separate bands and some together. Paul and I formed a cover band that eventually wanted to write our own stuff so after our current guitarist and bassist lost interest in the idea of writing we picked up Ben as a bassist and Paul switched from just vocals to guitar and Damien was already the other guitarist. We pretty much all decided to collaborate from our other bands to form a Megazord of Music. After a year of living in St. John’s we picked up Ryano as a bassist and Ben switched to just vocals.

What’s the music scene like up in Goose Bay?
The music scene was pretty booming when we were in high school, well as good as Goose Bay gets, there was a good 10 bands maybe. But since we’ve left there hasn’t been anything, the only shows that have happened there since we left were the ones we’ve had when we’ve been home for summer or xmas.

How would you describe your sound?
Ski-Dunks goin’ BRAAAP! YIN YIN YON! YIT YIT! WOMP!

Plans for the near future?
In the process of buying a van, been writing a lot of new material, slowly. Looking into getting some grants for recording and tours.

[media id=56]

At Ship’s End

FOLK ROCK
If you’re not sure whether you want to dance a jig to some Newfoundland music or pump your fist to some rock n’ roll At Ship’s End may be the band you want to see. The seven-piece group combines the fiddle and tin whistle with heavy beats to create a foot-stomping sound fans of either genre can enjoy.

The band has just begun playing live again after focusing on recording an EP which is now being mixed and mastered by Rick Hollett. Vocalist Dave Whitty says putting the music of seven musicians together was a complex task, with each song composed of up to 60 individual tracks.

“We all love Newfoundland, and love playing and making music, so we work hard at what we do, and try to put everything we have in to our music,” says Whitty. SH

[media id=52]

Awesome Magic

ENTHUSIASTIC SYNTH POP

When did Awesome Magic start?
We (Melissa Murray and Dan Galway) were originally trying to do the RPM challenge last time, but found ten songs too daunting for our sporadic song writing process. Benjy Kean heard some of the songs and asked if we would like to play Musique Non Stop, so we did that and have continued writing new material since.

Where does the name come from?
Unfortunately there is no clever backstory to the name. Destiny’s Child was taken and so we had to come up with an alternative.

What makes Awesome Magic stand out?
We are the only synth duo currently living in the Canadian Arctic. (They’re up there earning money to pay off their student loans.)

Plans for the near future?
Releasing a tape later this year, writing lots of new songs and coming back to the motherland to play shows and hang out.

[media id=53]

Bird and Bear

INDIE FOLK

When did Bird & Bear start?
Jill: We were set up by a mutual friend who thought we would get along, both romantically and musically. It was actually at a Mountains & The Trees show. By the third date Jon had already whipped out the drum kit and started backing up my songs.

What happens at a typical show?
Jon: There’s usually lots of family and friends in the audience – it’s a really warm and loving crowd. Also, the stage gets littered with instruments, including one rather unusual one…

What makes the group stand out in the local scene?
Jon: We bring a Hammond organ out to shows. I play it with my left hand while drumming with my right. Also, there’s a drum machine too! All that plus a piano accordion, banjo, and several guitars. We’ve built-up our arm muscles just carrying it all around. Haha.

Where does the name come from?
Jill: We were sitting around considering possible band names and Jon threw out the idea. I immediately liked the nature theme, and the fact that it’s similar to our other project. It’s also super cheesy, which is always a plus.

Plans for the near future?
Jon: We’ve got 3 songs already recorded and just received a MusicNL grant, which will allow us to record another 3. Put all those together and you’ve got…
Jill: …an album. We’re hoping to release something in the fall. Other than that, we’ll try to book some shows and continue to write, practice, and play all we can.
Jon: …and sleep.
Jill: Yes, Jon.
Jon: ZzzZzz…
Jill: *Sigh*

[media id=54]


Photo by Adam Penney

Colonel Craze and The Hunch

ROCK AND ROLL

“I don’t know what I had in my head that summer,” laughs Andrew Waterman. “But I said, ‘man, I’m going to start a pop rock group.'”

“I was so serious about it. I had written all these songs and we jammed on them. But then I think we jammed on a bunch of Nation of Ulysses songs after that and…”

“It turned out wicked,” says Devon Milley.

Wicked is right—in all senses of the word. Waterman soon began writing songs with the group in mind, and the high energy, catchy, and provocative Colonel Craze and the Hunch was born.

All three grew up in Central Newfoundland, and all three had performed together in some band or another over the years—recently here in St. Johns Kill Popoff and Bears on Wheels—but this particular combination, with Waterman as lead singer and guitar, Milley on bass, and Fudge on drums, was one of their most successful yet.

“It clicked more than almost any other jam I had before,” says drummer Matt Fudge. “I was amazed at the songs that Andrew brought too. I thought they were some of the best songs I’d ever heard.”

But they aren’t for everybody. Listening to some of the songs is a little like being transported into the brain of someone from the 1950s and hearing rock and roll for the first time. The music is wild. It’s dangerous. It’s aggressive.

In fact, “The Hunch” part of the name was inspired by a cult 50s rockabilly eccentric named Hasil “Haze” Adkins—a one-man-band often named one of the originators of psychobilly, a mixture of punk and rockabilly.

“He had a song where he said “Everybody’s doin the Hunch!” Waterman says. “But who’s doing the Hunch, man? Nobody’s doing the Hunch. It was just some anonymous dance. I really liked that idea, that within the music, everybody was doing the Hunch, but he was just some anonymous guy from the southern states.”

On stage, Waterman has a lot in common with Adkins: both are wild and fearless on stage. Both, too, generate their own fair share of controversy.

Colonel Craze, with outrageous, tongue-in-cheek song titles like “My Only Hope is a Wet Dream”, and—hold your breath—”Nice Day For Rape” are a nightmare for the politically correct and the easily disturbed.

“I’ve had people come up to me after shows and say, ‘Man, rape is not cool. Your band’s pretty good, but you should change the name of that song,'” Waterman says.

“As if I didn’t know! As if I actually walk around thinking, ‘man, it’s a nice day for rape.’ The song is supposed to be creepy.”

“But after someone tells him that he channels his anger back into the music,” laughs Fudge. “Then he writes a song like ‘Pregnancy’s a Joke.'”

Reptilian Lipstick—Colonel Craze and the Hunch’s full album—is expected to be released later in August. EL

[media id=49]

The Dardanelles

ENERGETIC TRAD
Without distortion pedals or irony, this five-piece group of 20-somethings have succeeded in forming a razor-sharp instrumental Newfoundland folk group.

“We were going to be a bluegrass band at first,” says Kate Bevan-Baker. “But that really wasn’t my thing, so we rounded up a few more musician friends of ours and played some tunes instead.”

“We try to use different accompaniments, textures, and arrangements of tunes,” says Kate Bevan-Baker, who plays fiddle and sings with the group. “We each bring different repertoire and styles to the group, so it’s great to have input from everyone and make out arrangements collectively.

They have just released a self-titled album, produced by Duane Andrews, and will be performing on the main stage at this year’s Folk Fest. EL

[media id=66]

Dead Language

NOT-DEPRESSING ROOTS FOLK
Emotional yet not depressing, composed entirely of strings but with a beat that makes you want to move, Dead Language is full of contradictions. The four-person group formed as a trio in the spring of 2008, and added a banjo player that summer to complete the ensemble.

Vocalist and violinist Katie Baggs says they’ve been getting good feedback from audiences ever since.

“Because a lot of the songs are lyrically driven, with simple melodies, it’s accessible,” she says. “People can relate to a lot of the songs. They relate them to their own emotions.”

Baggs describes the music of Dead Language as roots folk and mainly composed of original material. The group has record demos which appear on their Myspace page, and will be releasing an EP in the fall.

“The songs are really set in this mindset I have these days about hope, and how beautiful the world is,” she says. SH

[media id=55]


Photo by Paddy Barry

The Hot Faucets

ROCK
Andrew Rice (guitar/vocals) Brad Soper (guitar/vocals) Nicole Fiander (bass) Jeff Pardy (drums)

When did the band start?
The band started Jamming back in late January and by early February we were ready for our first show.

How did it all happen?
Both Andrew Rice and I have been writing songs togeather for about two years prior to the Faucets. Over all that time, we had more than enough for a full set of songs. By the time we decided to get it all in gear, it was our next duty to find the rest of the band. At the time, Andrew was playing in another band with Jeff Pardy. Soon after that, we picked up Nicole Fiander as our new bass player. After a couple of jams we kept it at that. We finally had a tidy little four-piece.

How would you describe your sound?
Me and Andrew always lovingly referred to it as “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival” . Although, as I mentioned before, we made sure our sound was diverse as possible. It’s way more fun to write all over the place to make it difficult for the listener to put a label on it. We had some songs that were bluesy. Some were raw. Some were sort of poppy. I always like to hear how the audience takes it all in. I’ve heard people label us as “classic rock”, “garage rock”, and even “grunge” at one point. There are definately some punk rock influences there too. I like to keep it breezy.

Where did the name come from?
We would have a vote at the end of every jam and we all had a bunch of ridiculious names we’d throw out there, hoping they’d eventually grow on us. I believe this started out as a conversation between Andrew and Jeff. It was a conversation about Farah Fawcett, for reasons unknown… “I don’t know man, back in the day, Farah Fawcett was pretty… Hey! I think we have something!”. Spelling it as “Faucet” was merely a fun play on words.

[media id=57]

Japan Batteries

CATCHY SYNTH POP
Up from the depths of Osaka Bay or, y’know, the harbour, come this mighty group of monsters that put your Gameras, Jet Jaguars and Mecha-Godzillas to shame. They are Japan Batteries, and, like the aforementioned giant monsters, they shall destroy your miniature cities and toy laser-cannon tanks until nothing is left but rubble, savagery and flame. Figuratively speaking, of course.

According to lead vocalist and guitarist Daryl Hopkins, the band started out with a “rambling conversation about ethical sourcing, technology, island mentalities, isolation, politics and the need for a new 9-volt battery for my wah-wah.”

Beer was apparently a heavy factor in this talk as well.

Japan Batteries is a mixture of the atmospheric and the ambient with more traditional rock influences. AC

[media id=58]

Matt Hornell & The Diamond Minds

POP FOLK
Matt Hornell takes off his shoes and takes the stage with a glass of what looks like Screech. Heads pointed together, he and bass player Patrick Byrne try to tune their instruments through the thick noise of a pretty much packed Ship Pub.

A little later, electric-acoustic guitar in hand, he says “We’re coming closer to you folks.”

Thing is, Hornell is intimate with his audience before this point. and throughout his performance he invites friends on stage to play with him.

Though his band’s current line up has only been performing for a month and a half or so, people are dancing and singing along to his catchy folk songs.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Hornell has established not only a fan base, but a community around his music.

He started off a solo artist, performing at open mics before recruiting his friends as back up musicians. The band includes Jon Bungay on guitar and mandolin and Josh Borden on drums, as well as Byrne and Hornell.

“I just started writing tunes and the guys kind of gave it legs,” Hornell explains on the stairs of Solomon’s Lane after his show. During our chat several people stop by to tell him how much they enjoyed his set.

The band, which he calls folk alternative, has just received funding from MusicNL and the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council to record an album.

Hornell says he writes about “your standard themes.”

One stand-out track is a story about his grandparents called “Khaki Dodgers.”

“That was an old love tale, my grandfather passed away and I never got to meet him. So I like to tell stories.” KB

[media id=59]

nukeneck
Photo by Melissa Caines

Nuke Neck

JAM
Members include Alex Pierson, Benjy Kean, Greg Ryan, Phill Pennell, Lee Hanlon, Mark Bennett, and Curtis Andrews. (So far)

When did Nuke Neck start?
I (Benjy Kean) stalked to a few of the guys back in April I think… but at that point it more talking about ideas rather than getting together and working on songs. We played our first show in march.

What happens at a typical show?
Our shows are not that typical… There are no formulated songs, we just start up with a beat or a groove and we go where it takes us. We don’t write songs or plan out our sets, it’s all improvised. Sometimes it works out really well, and other times we might clear the bar, depending on how tired or intoxicated we are. We played at the Rock House a while back and it went really really well, things flowed together nicely. Then on the opposite end of the spectrum we played our last show at CBTG’s and it was really hard for us to find our bearings… So I guess to make a long story short: we suck sometimes and we don’t suck sometimes.

Where does the name come from?
Robocop 2! The bad guys in the movie were all hooked on this drug called nuke. It was the most addictive drug in the world and they use to inject it into their necks to get high.

Plans for the near future?
Future plans are kinda up in the air really. It’s hard to say what we will be doing next. We are less about being a band and more about hanging out and having fun.

Over The Top

FRIENDLY POP PUNK

The smell was greasy but the enthusiasm in the air was equally unmistakable. It was inside a certain downtown chip wagon that I spoke with the newly hatched pop punk band built on friendship and fun.

“Every generation has a different form of pop punk and some people might not like it but I guess this is the new, modern pop punk,” says guitarist Jason Mooney, huddled in the crowded chip wagon with his bandmates. “We might not sound like the pop punk bands we first listened to, but that’s definitely the inspiration.”

Over the Top’s take on pop punk is tight, technical, and more aggressive than the early 2000s bands that spurred the regrettable wearing of neckties and black nail-polish in high schools everywhere.

“We always bring different styles into it,” adds bassist and on-duty fry cook Chris Van Ouwerkerk (AKA Vano). “So I guess that’s what really…”

He trails off and all heads turn to the truck’s side window. A customer has come by in pursuit of some hot, golden fries, and the band starts giggling as drummer Paul Bradley, who also works there but is off at the moment, tries to serve him with a straight face.
The band, like its members, is not all grown up, but they wear it well. These musicians know how to play their instruments and they’re far more industrious than your average fun-loving, fresh-faced pop punk five-piece.

Over the Top, which also features Tim Reynolds on vocals and Adam O’Brien on guitar, has only been around since February.

But they’ve already released a downloadable EP, and they’re about to embark on their second tour as well as release a music video directed by Justin Oakey. The video is set at a rowdy house party.

They say it’s their friendship that has made them so productive, and that they see each other more often without their instruments than with.

“That’s what really made it, was that we were friends first,” says Vano. “Jason and I hung out every weekend getting hammered at The Breezeway before we ever even started playing music together.”

“For the most part I think we’ve all been a part of bands where you might start out as buds or whatever but it becomes almost like a business venture where you’re just co-workers and we want to make sure that this is going to be fun and that we’re friends before anything else,” Mooney adds.

Their upcoming tour, running from Aug 2-13 includes dates in the Maritimes as well as Ontario and Quebec.

They’re excited to stretch their wings as far as Toronto, but—wholly consistent with the philosophy of the band—they also needed an excuse to be in town for the Blink 182 show. KB

[media id=61]


Photo by Adam Penney

The Mudflowers

RAWK
Three girls from Bishop Falls pick up and leave their hometown the day after high school graduation with their first demo in hand. A year later, they’re getting recognized in the street and opening for bands that have spent years paying their dues playing the bar scene. Identifying exactly who The Mudflowers sound like is a challenge for fans—comparisons have run from Joy Division to Fleetwood Mac to Sonic Youth.

“We weren’t basing our sound on anything,” says lead singer and guitarist Megan McLaughlin. “We didn’t have a clue, so it was just the noise that we were making, the sound that we were making… That’s what we went with.”

Singer McLauglin, bassist Nicole Fiander and drummer Meghan Harnum are already working out the material that will compose the first Mudflowers album, possibly due out next year. DK

[media id=60]

Pelago

INDIE POP
“A warm mug of tea with a good splash of rum” is how the band Pelago describes their sound on their MySpace page. Pianos, shakers, trumpets, harmonicas, guitars and tambourines were all part of the mix in this year’s Scope RPM Challenge entry from Pelago band member Greg Hewlett. On stage, Pelago also draws on these instruments and styles to create music that’s part pop, part folk and part alternative. Hewlett says the influences and interests of the four band members (Hewlett, Rory Card, Joshua White and Rodney Russell) include 60s pop, classical, reggae and contemporary music.

The inspiration for the band’s name (pronounced PEL-a-go) comes from a little town in Italy that Hewlett passed on the train.

Along with co-songwriter Rodney Russell, Hewlett says he finds his latest songs are taking on a more narrative approach. “I’ve found myself taking a turn for that sort of writing of late,” he says. “The more songs I write, the more I find myself writing stories.” DK

[media id=62]

Quiet Elephant

INDIE POP
Once Paul Alexander and his brother David moved back to St. John’s after living in Toronto for five years, they wanted to start a band.

When Paul went into O’Brien’s Music to pick up a pack of six strings, he and an employee at the store, Sharleen Simmons, got to talking. As he found out, she plays keyboards, trumpet, accordion, and a boatload of other instruments, so asking her to get involved in the band was a no-brainer.

Sharleen’s brother Steven—a drummer—later moved to St. John’s from the west coast and joined in.

Throw in some catchy tunes, some creative arrangements, a few hand claps now and then, and you’ve got a band.

“Sometimes halfway through a song we’ll change it around, make it a little more lively and add a trumpet or accordion,” says David. “It really gets people’s attention.”

And the name?

It’s a mishearing of a song title by PEI band In-Flight Safety. Paul and David were speaking to them when they were here on tour.

“They mentioned they had a new song, ‘Big White Elephant’, and Paul had thought he said ‘Quiet Elephant,'” says David. Later when Paul and he were talking, he mentioned Quiet Elephant would be a good name for a band, and since it was a title for one of their songs it was too bad they couldn’t use it. David corrected him, and the name was theirs.

They have two shows coming up in August—one on the 8th at the Rose and Thistle and one on the 21st at CBTGs. EL

Burn This City & Population Control


Photo by Jaime Michelin

The Reluctant Showmen

INDIE POP

Photo by Jaime Michelin
Left to Right: Georgie Newman (Vocalist-Guitarist), Joanne Morgan (Drummer/Vocalist), and Byron Gosse (Bassist/Vocalist)

Georgie: We are pretty humbled that everyone has been so supportive after only a month into our online existence and 4 gigs! There’s no mystery, just my lovely wife Joanne and I playing the honest music we can muster with our best friend Byron. We honestly feel more comfortable reflecting any limelight we get rather than bath in it. In fact we started our blog to highlight the much more talented bands we play with. Neither of us are too keen on the whole concept self promotion.

When did the band start?
January 2009

How did it all happen?
George and Joanne reconnected with their friend Byron and realized they had no choice but to start playing together.

How would you describe your sound?
To quote our friend Kip Bonnell, “Incredible rhythm and camaraderie, with lyrics that are both personal and politically charged” “The songs come at you like waves… very good waves!”

What makes the Reluctant Showmen stand out in the local scene?
Our infinitely deep understanding of each other musically, philosophically and personally. We all individually focus on only playing parts that will complement the other members.

Plans for the near future?
Continue making music together for as long as we can.

[media id=64]


Photo by Jon Whitten

Sometimes Houses Like to Sleep

METAL/HARDCORE

Responses by Christopher Scott (vocals).

How and when did the group get together?
Just a bunch of friends that started jamming in December of last year, eventually grew into a project and started playing a few live gigs. By May 2009 we had our first EP released [Canine]. Since then we have been a active group.

How would you describe your sound?
I’m not sure, what I usually tell people is to just listen to us. I’m always troubled with the idea of wine connoisseurs — they can choose a million different words to try and explain the wine to you but nothing compares to when you physically taste it yourself. The same idea applies to music.

What makes Houses stand out locally?
Well I guess the unique thing is that we are all from Marystown, which actually does have a scene of its own so we are very much a part of the Marystown scene as well as the St. John’s scene. We play shows both areas but will mainly be playing in St. John’s by the fall of this year.

Where’d the name come from?
We had just finished jamming and ended up all sleeping in the same house, I simply uttered the phrase, something really just random and on the top of my head. Everyone turned and looked at me and said “yea that’s it, that’s the band name!” I hated it honestly, but majority rules. The name has since grown on me though.

Plans for the near future?
We are looking at doing another EP or perhaps doing a split with another band either locally or abroad at least in the foreseeable future. So if you do like what you hear certainly be prepared for more. We will be playing live until winter, then it’s back into hiding and writing.

[media id=69]

Sorcerer

CLASSIC DOOM METAL
“We melt faces,” says Adam Foran about his band’s live show.

Face melting is the holy grail of any good metal band, so you know the guitarist and vocalist of Sorcerer is pretty confident of his band’s abilities.

Foran describes Sorcerer as a doom metal band in the style of Black Sabbath, with inspiration also coming from Kyuss and The Sword. The group began playing together a year ago, starting with some classic-metal covers, and eventually spawning some original material.
“We had been talking about it for a while, getting something heavy on the go,” says Foran. “It started as something fun to do and then we started writing our own stuff.”

Sorcerer plans to record some demos in a month, and Foran says they’d like to tour Atlantic Canada afterwards, including a visit to the island of St. Pierre.

Sorcerer will be melting faces at CBTG’s on Aug 1. SH


Photo by Mark Bennett

Surgeon

DARK INSTRO-ROCK
An unapologetically indulgent guitar fetishist’s dream band. Utilizing the fretboard wizardry of guitarists Steve Cowan and Andrew Wicks with the bass maestro Josh Ward and drum pummeler Phil Maloney (who are also the rhythm section of Hey Rosetta!), they craft epic instrumental rock that hits somewhere between Jóhann Jóhannsson and the Mega Man theme music.

Formed out of the ashes of the short lived, but much-loved instro-rock band Narrows, Steve, Josh and Andrew decided to form Surgeon as “something in the same vein, being epic rock, mostly-instrumental, and driven by cool guitar hooks. What resulted was something a lot darker and heavier than Narrows had been, with song structures fueled by hooky grooves, lengthy buildups, drastic tempo changes, and usually a massive climax somewhere in the song.” says lead guitarist Steve Cowan. Even without much of an Internet presence (they don’t even have a Myspace yet, Holy Moly!) Surgeon have been attracting large crowds to their shows and turning heads all over the place.

Surgeon are currently halfway through recording their debut album That they promise will be “8 tracks of heavy, danceable, guitar-driven prog-rock with a lot of twists and epic journeys.” PC


Photo by Jerrica Joy

The Troubletones

SUMMER-LOVIN’ DOO-PUNK

“Our first shows were in the summer,” says guitarist Andrew Wickens. “It’s a frenzy. A summer frenzy. It’s gets all sweaty and stuff, playing some of these bars downtown, packed in there.”

“Summertime is when everyone comes out, girls are wearing skirts… see where I’m going with this? It’s got a 1950s feel to it… It’s sweaty, young love. Everyone’s falling in love,” says guitarist Andrew Wickens.

The Troubletones bill themselves as ‘doo-punk’—a cross between classic rock and roll sounds and guitar-riffed punk.

When asked why he describes it this way, Wickens says “I think it’s about 50 per cent wishful thinking, really… It’s what we aim for, what we hope to sound like. We really do have this 1950s-like doowop and rock and roll sound—what Phil Spector did with the ‘Wall of Sound’. And yeah, the punk part? I guess it’s kind of how we play. We play fast… no apologies.”

The Summer of 2009 is already on its way out, and when it goes, so go The Troubletones. At least for a while.

Through the fall, winter and spring, the four Mount Pearl natives—Wickens, Paul Kennedy, Matt Pope and Steve Piccott—go into hibernation mode to rehearse, write new tunes and record tracks. Aside from a potential gig in St. John’s at Christmas, the window for catching them live this year is rapidly closing.

The band’s summer-only show schedule is a choice that’s part practical and part philosophical.

During the rest of the year, drummer Paul Kennedy is away at Law school in New Brunswick.

“Actually, it’s not that bad,” says Wickens, “because in the downtime me and Steve write a bunch of songs, and by the time Paul gets back we’ve got another album done.”

Reactions from audiences stumbling into a Troubletones show are still unpredictable…

“I’ve seen some weird stares, actually,” says Wickens. “So maybe that’s kind of what it is-they’ve never heard something like us before and they don’t know what to think, maybe. We’ll have to get one of those comment boxes and people can leave their comments.”

Getting their sound in front of new audiences and pushing the band upward keeps the members focused through the rest of the year. The Troubletones are already looking ahead to next summer, with plans of putting a mini-tour together through the Atlantic provinces.
Playing a style of music that they all love is also a motivating factor for continuing on, says Wickens.

“I think it’s the melodies and it’s even watching those old videos of those 60s girl group like The Shirelles or The Supremes… Just watching people in the crowd, how they move… It’s certainly one of my favourite eras of music.” DK

[media id=68]

Leave us a comment to tell us who we missed.

25 comments

Day Thirteen: From inside something #photochallengeNL

On the inside looking out…

13 August 2013

  1. Go Habs · August 13, 2013

    The list is really hit and miss, there are lots of good bands that popped up in 2009 that you covered but there were a lot of other greats that should have been included like Kujo, Overlay, The Once, The Living Daylights, etc. while other bands that have been around for years like The Dardanelles and The Troubletones are for some strange reason listed as new bands..

  2. Elling Lien · August 13, 2013

    Our issue from last year had Kujo and The Once:
    http://thescope.ca/2008/09/11/

    Yeah, some of these artists have been around for more than one year, but we tried to guage how the bands were doing too — were they playing more shows? Were they just beginning to be noticed? Too many factors really. It got a little complicated.

    Anyway, like we said in the intro, there are a shitload of bands in town that were more than worthy of being included, and Overlay and The Living Daylights are definitely two of ’em.

  3. Justin Guzzwell · August 13, 2013

    Colonal Craze and his Hunch definitely deserve the cover spot. Love those guys and love their music.

  4. Kevin Kelly · August 13, 2013

    An excellent and exciting list. A few of these bands (The Mudflowers, The Troubletones, The Dardanelles, Matthew Hornell & The Diamond Minds) have already earned airplay on my CHMR all-Newfoundland music radio show, Upon This Rock, (heard Saturdays 10 am-noon, except for this Saturday)and for the ones I don’t know yet, I’m eager to see what they are all about. I love Aoke, and at their last show, urged them to record something….anything, so people can experience their ultra-cool techno jams.
    One thing that is for sure, the local scene is so vibrant these days with many intriguing, interesting and exciting bands, and that only bodes well for fans of local music.
    As for an omission, Danielle Tobin, (aka Danielle Trouble), is one of my favourite new female singers/players, and definitely one to keep your eye on. Was am/fm dreams on the list last year? Because they are fabulous.

    Also, I’m still wanting to find that Patch RPM album. Help me, Patch!

  5. Patrick Canning · August 13, 2013

    Kujo and The Once were in last years New Music issue. The Dardenelles weren’t in that one, although they were on the cover of the scope three issues before that, so you could say they’ve had their coverage. We definitely missed a few bands this year, but there is only so much space.

  6. Patrick Canning · August 13, 2013

    oops! I didn’t read Elling’s comment too carefully before I wrote that one. Don’t mean to steal points away from you.

  7. dodge · August 13, 2013

    So glad Japan Batteries and The Reluctant Showmen are here. Same with the Hunch. The by’s rocks out! But I agree. Could’ve used a bit of Overlay and The Living Daylights… but you’ll be hearing about them soon enough. Everyone in this city should be excited about our music scene. I think we have some of the most amazing, diverse, genuine talent around. You wouldn’t be able to fit all of them on this list. If we play our cards right, this city could start another movement, we could be another Seattle and we all know that music in general needs this.

  8. Kitty · August 13, 2013

    So glad Colonel Craze and The Hunch got the cover. Good on ya’, b’ys!

    I’ve been listening to a lot of bands downtown for years, and being with a musician/engineer, I get to know a lot of other local musicians and artists. For the most part, it’s a comfy community. Of course, you get your “jerks-without-a-cause” and new bands who come from small towns and think they’re big shit because they opened up for a couple of known bands in town (won’t mention names). But the awesome thing about the musicians I get to meet, who also wish to make the stank street of George to be a home for their artistry, is that the fakes and biters are always found out. It’s the ones who don’t brag, don’t kiss ass to make connections, and who just play their music and let the audience decide for themselves if they like it- they’re the bands and musicians that deserve every ounce of praise cheered their way. They’re the ones who go through the b/s and dirt for what they love. Their sweat, blood and beers spilled on the filthy historic planks of CBTG’s grungy floor. Those are the people, the musicians, the artists, and ultimately, the friends that I love to see make it here. They deserve the $3-$5 a person on the door. No kiss ass band I’ve seen, and there’s a lot, deserve even that.

    Not enough people are checking out the scene for what it’s worth. Nothing thrills me more than to see new audience members in the crowd to watch the bands that I know are in it for all the right reasons. Go see a show! Meet some awesome people! I’ll be in the front with the b’ys and hip chicks. And just because you don’t think a band is “commercial” does not mean they aren’t good. Have you heard the shit on the radio? Now THAT’S disturbing.

    <3 Peace.

  9. Meh · August 13, 2013

    This really seems to be a list made for friends by friends, with a focus primarily on the ‘indie’ scene. There’s a couple buzz bands from other scenes dropped into this list but for the most part in centers around bands that two or three people seemed to be a part of over and over. Maybe next year ask for contributions from people all over the city, get them to give a write up of their favorite new band, and use the best ones. Maybe that would give you guys a better scope (pun fully fucking intended) on what new music is coming out. Local publications do way to much back slapping of people they know, and not enough actual searching for good music/talent/whathaveyou.

  10. Elling Lien · August 13, 2013

    Who’d we miss?

  11. Ryan Green · August 13, 2013

    Hey Kevin,
    The Patch RPM album is up at http://patch.bandcamp.com. I can get you a hard copy if you want. Cheers, Ryan (Patch)

  12. RBTPZTCH · August 13, 2013

    Good article but not sure if the content is deserving of the title. It would have been nice to see some attention on local producers/DJ’s/electronic artists rather than exclusively on the local live/indie scene.

  13. grungeface · August 13, 2013

    you missed Kenobi. They showcased at the 2007 MusicNL event in St. John’s and are still at it!

  14. bryhanna · August 13, 2013

    It’s 2009 now. 2007 isn’t new enough.

  15. Feltham · August 13, 2013

    You will never please everyone with any list you develop, nor should you ever expect to as it’s one persons (or several) weighted opinion versus the masses.

    I’m sure everyone, including the authors of the article, could spit out multiple other great bands that could be on this list (I can think of a bunch – it seems like every other weekend I see another great band downtown), however, overall when I look at the list it makes me smile. And, anyone involved in the St. John’s scene should be doing the same.
    We are extremely fortunate to have so much talent in our small city, and even more blessed to have so many easily accessible venues that allow artists to hone their skill.

    I spent the better part of a decade outside of St. John’s, and during that time lived, worked, or visited every decent sized city in Canada and the US. And, from my perspective the St. John’s music scene can compete with most cities in North America 10 times our size.

    Our biggest downfall is that we don’t realize how good it truly is here, and that there are so many “haters” on the scene, and if more bands actually supported and promoted each other the entire community would be better off.

  16. damian · August 13, 2013

    Amen…

  17. andrew waterman · August 13, 2013

    why does everyone keep saying ‘indie scene’? I don’t really think there’s much of a community. Not that we’re apart of anyway. We’ve been playing shows to the same five-ten people for a year and a half now (unless we’re playing a show with someone people actually want to see). I don’t get the mistrust and the frustration everyone’s projecting…. as if people chose themselves… and then people go on to say the scope should get people to send there own stuff in and select from that. Are you going to make a (de)press(ing) pack or something with sweet photos and a biograpy of the band that only dates back three months or a year? That kind of defeats the whole purpose of being a newspaper. It’s great they exist but why make the effort to try and be in it? isn’t that kind of their job? Everyone crying out seems so desperate and shit. Just plain pathetic. Shouldn’t you be concentrated more on writing better songs and making better music? You’re obviously musicians and if not your just a sad friend of a musician. I’m not trying to be volatile or arrogant, I’m just saying.

  18. Patrick Canning · August 13, 2013

    Oh don’t be so down on everything Andrew. Even 5 or 10 people can be a scene if you want to look at it like that. of course new bands are gonna seem desperate for attention and defensive, they haven’t dealt with the years of soul crushing audience apathy and ambivalence that a small clique-y town like St. John’s dumps on a band. They haven’t spent the last 50 gigs playing songs they crafted over many long weeks to the same 15 friends or family members or random drunks, only to walk down the street a bit to see a massive line up outside Club One for some piss poor piece of shit top 40 garbage cover band. These new bands might still be holding on to some sort of fragment of a delusion of a dream that they might someday, if they put themselves out there enough and play as many gigs as possible and record a professional sounding album and wear the right clothes and find themselves in the right place at the right time that they might actually, possibly be partially, somewhat successful or make some small amount of money or find a single living person who might actually care about what they do. Gladly there are people like us who will set them straight. THERE IS NOTHING BUT SADNESS TO BE FOUND IN DREAMS AND DESIRES! Everybody get over yourselves, The Scope just wanted to do a special issue where they wrote up new (or least new-ish, or at least new to us) acts that haven’t got much attention yet. And it was kinda rushed.. I think they did a pretty good job covering “the scene” and it’s not even stuck with a qualifier like “The Best New Music of St John’s” it’s just “New Music”, it’s just the rewarding of bands for not being around long enough for people to hate yet. If a new band didn’t get in here it means that we either; don’t know they exist, they never answered their emails, they’ve already been covered extensively by the scope, there wasn’t enough room in the 24 page paper or they’re so fucking rotten we’d rather pretend that god made a mistake in keeping them in this world. Who doesn’t love raising children’s expectations just to watch them crumble and shatter eventually?

  19. Go Habs · August 13, 2013

    “THERE IS NOTHING BUT SADNESS TO BE FOUND IN DREAMS AND DESIRES!”

    That’s the lamest statement I’ve heard in a very long time.

    I heard that you’re not from Newfoundland? Although you seem to have taken to the common woe is me attitude that has inflicted so many people here. What is life without dreams and desires? Many people still “make it” in the music industry and just because you and those around you have a loser attitude, doesn’t mean the whole scene here is a losing battle. Despite the downturn in record sales in recent years the music industry is still worth billions upon billions of dollars each year!!! And, with the right determination and dedication anyone (even losers like you) can make a piece of that pie if you try hard enough.

  20. Elling Lien · August 13, 2013

    Things are getting personal, so I’m going to lock the thread in a few hours. If anyone has anything civil they want to add, please do it before 2pm today (Tuesday).

  21. Justin Guzzwell · August 13, 2013

    I agree with Pat. It’s the “New Music” issue. There’s lots of new music going on, and here is some of it. It’s not necessarily the best, and sure, there are other bands that would have been great to see here. But we’re not out to get eachother, are we? I didn’t think we were all so cut throat that we’ve got to complain about other musicians success. CONGRATULATIONS EVERYBODY WHO MADE IT IN THIS ISSUE, AND GOOD LUCK!

  22. Patrick Canning · August 13, 2013

    I was being facetious. it’s called humor through exaggeration.
    Also, just for the record I have never lived anywhere besides Newfoundland.

  23. damian · August 13, 2013

    by’s…what are ye at?….is turning these comment blogs into a slag-fest the only thanks we can give Elling, Patrick and the other fine people at the Scope for pouring their blood, sweat and tears into promoting and nourishing our city’s fertile little music scene? You’re only fueling the fires of negativity…is that really best use of your time and energy? The Scope is a forum for strengthening and building our art, music and culture….not for tearing them down. Take your bad vibes somewhere else man, we don’t want em here…Personally I’d like to thank the staff at the Scope for all their hard work and tireless effort on this and all the other great issues they’ve put out in the past….I can’t wait for the next one…great work ladies and gentlemen…keep it up!

    cheers,
    damian

  24. Jason · August 13, 2013

    Hello Eiling

    I find it interesting that you are closing this thread because it is getting ‘personal’. However on your paper covers rock P12/20/07 article when people where calling other people ‘fag’ you did not. one person wrote in that thread ‘whatarya gay’. I think if your going to support open discussion on contentious issues; which obviously got personal; you don’t have the right to say ‘no i won’t deal with that if it involves me’. If you are going to leave things to open discussion, don’t put other people in the hot seat if you can’t take it yourselves from time to time. Hypocrasy isn’t charming from the media.

    be open to criticism

  25. Elling Lien · August 13, 2013

    If anyone is curious, that discussion happened two years ago here:
    http://thescope.ca/2007/12/paper-covers-rock-122007/