Photo by Kayla Walters
Sandy May has terrible stage fright. When this past February’s RPM Challenge came along, she figured it would be a great non-public outlet for the stockpile of songs that she had been secretly writing.
“It was kind of me against myself,” she laughs.
Enlisting her husband Ian Cornelissen (songwriting, vocals, bass, drums) and Ian’s school mate Drew Heggie (songwriting, vocals, guitar, drums, organ, harmonica), who was in P.E.I. at the time, the trio emailed a few songs back and forth, adding instrumentation, back up vocals and other personal touches, and completed Welcome To The Good Life, The Domestics’ first album. Since then, they acquired a fourth member, Ryan Taylor (bass, drums), and begun playing live shows—despite the nervous churning of poor Sandy’s stomach.
“Being out on stage has been interesting,” she says. “We’ve only been playing for a few months and we’ve already played about fifteen shows, but it’s still hard, I’ll probably never get over it.”
Seeing them on stage, you’d never guess there was a problem. Their shows are quiet and intense, and the bandmates compliment each other’s playing and stage presences perfectly.
“Drew and Ian and I all have fairly similar tastes in music and we all sort of know where we are coming from,” she says. “I heard somebody give what I thought was an interesting and flattering description of us: They said we sounded like the Cowboy Junkies, or early Lou Reid, which is neat. It is kind of a low-key-ish dark country thing.”
Ryan and Drew have both left St. John’s for reasons of love and life, so Lee Hanlon (Gramercy Riffs, Texas Chainsaw) and Jamie March (Mercy, the Sexton) have stepped in to fill the gaps. Despite being in transition (and the nerves), The Domestics have no plans to slow down. In a way, they were meant to be.
“Ian and Drew and I are from Halifax originally, but we didn’t all meet until last year, in St. John’s—even though we knew all the same people and had been to all the same shows,” she says. “It’s been really weird, this crossing of paths.” SS