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Bad Mountie

Talking Bands
by Katie Rankin

Mitch Gallant, Jeremy Gallant, Jon Gallant, Matt SteeleIt all started with a dream. Bad Mountie lead singer and guitar player Jon Gallant had just graduated from high school and wasn’t sure what to do with his life. Since he was a kid he’d always loved the RCMP so he started filling out an application form. Before he could send it in his two brothers and his cousin intervened. “We gave him an ultimatum,” says drummer and older brother Jeremy Gallant, “He could do that or he could be in the band. So that’s Bad Mountie.” The guys, along with middle brother and bassist Mitch Gallant and cousin and lead guitar player Steele, have been playing this blend of poppy alt-rock since May.

Being a family band has its perks. “When you’re playing it really can be telepathic sometimes, which is cool,” says Steele. Living together and knowing each other so well can also get intense. “We know we’ll probably push ourselves to the point that any other band would collapse, but we just can’t walk out the door cause we live here,” says Mitch.

As the main songwriter, Steele says the guys push him musically, and even though sometimes he strongly disagrees with them, he eventually appreciates the challenge. As Bad Mountie cements itself, the band is starting to collaborate more on the writing. “Mostly it’s that I have the basic structure and all the lyrics. We come together and finesse it,” says Steele.

Even though they’ve lived a number of years on PEI, the guys weren’t savvy to the local scene right away but say it’s been extremely welcoming. “Places like Baba’s and the Alibi will let you in there without that much experience playing at other bars,” says Jeremy.

Steele, who is from Kentucky, says the scene is much better than his hometown’s. “Where I went to school, unless you were playing a house party all the time, you couldn’t get into bars, they just wouldn’t have it.” Mitch also plays drums for local band Colour Code and says getting to know other bands helps make connections.

Bad Mountie enjoy trading in their heavy sound for acoustic sets. “I feel like it’s more of an environment where we can show off our songs,” says Mitch.

Jon agrees and says, “It’s definitely easier to sing at acoustic shows because I can hear myself.”

Due to family issues Bad Mountie had to cancel their show at the Solid Rock Cafe in February. Check them out at

Wake Up Earthquake

Talking Bands
by Katie Rankin

Wake Up EarthquakeWake Up Earthquake formed one night in 2009 when lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Rayner was playing at an open mic. Afterwards drummer Josh Simon approached him and said, “We need to play in a band together.” At that time Rayner and bassist Vaughn Murphy were already jamming.

“It wasn’t so much a serious thing, just kind of learning how each other plays,” says Rayner. “And Vaughn happened to be there when Josh asked me.”

“We kind of had to bring him in, he overheard,” jokes Simon.

The band used Rayner’s songs written on acoustic guitar as a building block for a heavier rock sound. “We’re going to start to gradually get into more collaboration, working on the music together, so it’s more everybody’s ideas,” says Rayner.

The band have a self-described 90’s rock sound, citing the music of Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam as major influences. “We grew up on it,” says Simon.

“It’s very 90’s. Whether that’s still in we’re willing to make it new again,”

says Rayner.

Murphy says they like trying out different themes when writing music. “Like we might have song that switches up time signatures a couple times.”

Finding your place in the local scene can be difficult for a new band and Wake Up Earthquake’s sound isn’t the norm. “We don’t necessarily have that indie-pop catch as well as the folk scene that seem to be really thriving here. We know all those guys though so it’s not hard to acquire shows with them,” says Rayner.

However, the band says since it’s such a close knit music community it’s important to make an effort to stay present. “The big thing for us is we want people to come out and enjoy the music and to hear us play. We want to get people out not just to socialize, but to be moved by the music,” says Murphy.

The band isn’t limiting themselves to playing at just bars, but play acoustic sets at coffee shops, as well as benefit shows. “You reach people you wouldn’t normally reach. You get people studying- regular people who might not come out to the bar scene on Friday night,” says Murphy. Rayner agrees that this change of space helps keeps the band’s performances fresh.

Catch Wake Up Earthquake at Hunter’s Ale House on Thursday, January 5th with other bands TBA. All proceeds will go to help the medical and travel expenses of Shayna Conway.

Racoon Bandit

Talking Bands
by Katie Rankin

Fraser McCallum, Adam Gallant’s mannequin stand-in, Roger Carter, Scott Gallant (photo: Katie Rankin)Raccoon Bandit may have already released two albums since forming in 2008 but now the band is anticipating their most unique project yet. This month the four-piece folk-rock group will release a split ten-inch vinyl with fellow Charlottetown band Sister Jack. “The idea is four songs, two per band,” explains Bandit singer and guitarist Fraser McCallum. “Two A sides, essentially. There’s no letter B, just A and A.” Each side of the record will feature two new songs from each band.

McCallum says they approached Sister Jack with the project because of their friendship with the band and their complimenting sound. Both bands even sat in on each other’s mixing. “It’s been cool to work on a project with more than just the immediate band, with other voices in the room,” says McCallum. Bassist Scott Gallant says, “Part of the fun too is releasing something that isn’t a standard album. A weird EP.”

Produced and recorded by Bandit guitarist and singer Adam Gallant, McCallum says they purposefully chose less heavy songs for the short tracklist. “It’s nice because we don’t have to wait. It’s a lot more immediate. We wrote the songs and then rehearsed them quickly over a few weeks and then we were ready to record.” Gallant has done similar compilation/collaboration projects in the past with Well Oiled and The Thirteen Days of Christmas. McCallum says they serve as ways to keep a small music scene thriving and interesting.

As for the decision to release the collaboration on vinyl, it was a learning experience for the band right down to the tiniest detail. “You have to pay for all kinds of crazy things,” McCallum says. “Like even the puncture in the hole of the vinyl is a separate cost.” Bandit’s drummer, singer and guitarist Roger Carter says vinyl’s sound is clearer and more true than digital recordings. This also meant the bands had to be more aware of the length of their songs in relation to the ten-inch width of the record, even tightening and trimming some parts.

“I think it comes down to the tangibility of having a record in your hands. You can put it on your wall, put it on your shelf, you can hold it forever,” says Carter. Raccoon Bandit and Sister Jack will have two release shows on December 17—an afternoon show at Back Alley Music and a show later that night at Baba’s.


Talking Bands
by Katie Rankin

Left to right top row: Bradford Rooney, Mike King, Bruce Rooney. Left to right bottom row: Evan McCosham, Josh CarterNamed after the most unlikeable animal on PEI, Coyote is a reincarnation of the goofily-named group Solid Gold Workout. Unlike the pet-eating mongrel, this band of five friends are friendly, and ready to showcase their new pop sound and line-up, while keeping their energetic live shows. The band became Coyote over the last year, with it’s three original members vocalist/guitarist Josh Carter, guitarist Bruce Rooney and bass player Evan McCosham joined by Rooney’s brother Bradford Rooney on keys and non-Islander Mike King on drums.

“SGW was fun but it was definitely a little sillier than what we were aiming to do,” says McCosham. “It was very gimmicky,” says Carter. “We were all about balloons and having a good time. Coyote more has to do with writing serious material.” Bruce Rooney points out that since the band never broke up, just changed drastically, the guys were already established in the local scene. “The goal is to try to keep the most fresh sound that is upbeat and energetic with as many pop hooks as we can,” he says.

This is also meant that for the first time the band had a solid line-up. Finding a drummer that fit in was the biggest challenge. The guys met King when another band he played in shared a show with Carter and Rooney. “We’ve used Mike as a metaphor as what we want in our band. We need a Mike King as a drummer in our band,” says Carter. Although he lives in Springhill, N.S., King makes the trek over for shows and practices. “This guy, if he grew up in Montague we would have been best friends,” says Bradford Rooney. King says the fact the rest of the band grew up together made it comfortable and encouraging to join. Bruce Rooney says they treat their relationships in the band special because they care about each other and don’t want to jeopardize it.

Coyote is in the process of recording a seven-song EP with Jon Matthews that they hope will be released by the beginning of the new year. “It’s the last ingredient we need to be a marketable band in regards to bookers and promoters,” says Bradford Rooney. But it’s the live show the band really loves. “Some people play shows to support an album, we make an album to support our shows,” says McCosham. Ultimately they hope to tour in Canada, but aren’t in it for the money. “We break even for the bridge toll,” jokes McCosham. Catch the energetic band at the Alibi on October 29 for a Halloween show with Glory Glory.

Colour Code

Talking Bands
by Katie Rankin

Colour CodeWhile most new bands spend months or years writing, practicing and fighting in their parents’ basements, Colour Code was already in the running for an ECMA showcase before all the members had even met. Last spring, after having written a few songs, singer and guitar player Emilee Sorrey sent fellow singer and guitar player Sam Rayner a link to a competition in which the winner would win an ECMA showcase. With the deadline a week away, Sorrey was disappointed there wouldn’t be enough time. “Sam put his Superman cape on and was like ‘Nothing’s impossible!’” explains Sorrey.

Very quickly the band recorded a video as their entry and hustled their members together. The day of the video shoot was the first time Sorrey had ever played with violinist Morgan Wagner. Practicing during exam period paid off and the band won the showcase, making their second live show at the ECMAs. Sorrey credits competition with the band’s quick evolution. “That’s why we ended up writing so much.” Soon after they had an opening gig at Hunter’s. “It’s been a really hectic summer, just cause we hadn’t expected it to move so quickly and it did,” says upright and electric bassist Jonathan Millington. The band also spent the summer adjusting to new drummers, settling into their third, Mitchell Gallant, this fall.

Instead of one lead vocalist, Colour Code blends both Rayner and Sorrey’s voices. “The idea was more to just make it interesting, so it wasn’t just a consistent flow of one male singing or one woman singing—it’s a mixture,” says Rayner. Their songs often sound like a back and forth conversation between two people, drawing comparisons to Montreal band Stars. Rayner says he has an obsession with strings and sought out Wagner, who has been playing classical violin for twelve years, to join. They also have trumpet and trombone parts written for friends who play with the band whenever they can.

Although none of them were friends when the band started, Sorrey says they didn’t really have choice and they’re like family now. “We were in the basement for hours on end a day, for like two weeks,” she says. Rayner says he likes it better that way. “Business is business and you get it done and then you kind of form the friendship around that.” For now Colour Code’s trying to take it easy and write more, while also recording the six-song EP they won from the competition.

Funny Observations

Honestly! The songs and stories of Nancy White and Erskine Smith

Review by Katie Rankin

Storytelling and song are often considered one and the same, but that doesn’t mean telling stories and singing songs always go together like peanut butter and jelly. They’re different forms of entertainment and when you stick them together there should be a common theme and cohesion. In Honestly! The songs and stories of Nancy White and Erskine Smith, starring White and Smith at the Victoria Playhouse, the performers showcase strong materiel in both forms, but never find a perfect thematic flow.

White is a well-known comedian and songwriter who sings about the quirkier side of life, including the bad driving habits of seniors, pretensions of artistic types, and a Nova Scotia squirrel stuffer. One of her songs about the ups and downs of being a Maritimer living in Toronto was particularly funny and timely in its references to a hated mayor and unfriendly residences. (Why did the Torontonian cross the street? To avoid meeting an acquaintance). Although she played acoustic guitar throughout, White was accompanied by Ghislain Aucoin on accordion, keyboard and backing vocals. An extremely talented musician, Aucoin added a fullness to White’s songs.

Although not all of White’s songs were about PEI, the Island ones worked best with Smith’s stories, in the atmosphere of pretty Victoria. The best maybe-only-Islanders-will-get-this song was about the understudy Gold Cup and Saucer girl, the one who’s the stand-in girl for the stand-in race horse. Smith’s stories were almost entirely Island-based, including the excitement and ordeal of crossing the ferry and a local guy who thought that an ice-cream cone was a “little dish.” Smith’s finest story was a personal one in which he talked about his elderly friend who he takes out for drives every Sunday. They always got fish n’ chips and it just became the norm. It wasn’t until they stopped in Kensington one day and had roast beef instead that his friend admitted “God, I hate fish n’ chips.”

The show’s set was especially impressive and not necessarily expected for such a simple premise. It was like set designer Scott MacConnell took the main staples of idyllic Victoria, including the theatre, lighthouse and welcome sign, and shrunk them into a cartoonish and colourful set. Strung on wooden banner between two light posts was “HONESTLY!,” an expression uttered throughout the show.

While it sometimes felt that Smith’s stories and White’s songs were connected by a thinly-stretched segue, the show was an enjoyable look into the funny observations of both performers, something that can be enjoyed by locals and bridge-hoppers.

Making a Difference

Till it Hurts

Review by Katie Rankin

Erskine Smith as Seymour Mann in Till it HurtsWe’d all like to think we’ve made a difference, that our lives have meant something, that we’ve changed someone or something for the better. That’s probably one of the reasons why people give to charities. It’s a way to feel confident that their contribution as affected positive change in the world. In Douglas Bowie’s comedy Till it Hurts at Victoria Playhouse, an encounter with a telemarketer from the Stephen Lewis Foundation forces one man to examine the footprints he’s left behind.

The play centers around Seymour Mann, played by Erskine Smith, a cantankerous English professor who spends his time eating take-out food and having nightmares about an upcoming speech he must give at a university function. Smith didn’t originally play the main role, but a cast change a few weeks ago forced him to jump into it. Despite discreetly carrying a script for most of the play, Smith seemed confident, only glancing at it for cues. His delivery and timing were perfect. The morose and overly-dramatic way in which Seymour handles stress (he’s always convinced he must be dead because he can’t find a pulse) was the highlight of the play.

Seymour can’t seem to catch a break. From his computer getting fried to never-ending phone calls, everything gets more complicated when a jilted telemarketer named Esme (Kathleen Hamilton), who got fired from the Stephen Lewis Foundation for calling him an asshole over the phone, tracks him down. She wants revenge, he just wants to get rid of her. This lonely hermit who’s pushed everyone in his life away is now surrounded by people he barely knows who won’t leave him alone.

Also joining stressed Seymour is the equally tense if not more wound-up Amber Moon, played by Breanna Moore. A former Tim Hortons worker, now coordinator in the university advancement office, she has to make sure Seymour makes it to the speech in one piece. Moore is excellent, constantly smoothing her ponytail, straightening her pencil skirt and laughing much too hard at Seymour’s stupid jokes, all the time praying he’ll finish the speech and iron his shirt.

Almost the entire play takes place in Seymour’s quintessentially-academic living room. Books are stacked high, take-out boxes are stacked even higher and a framed portrait of Shakespeare hangs on the wall centre stage. The set is unique in that Seymour’s bookshelves pull open, allowing mini-scenes, like conversations on the other end of the phone line, to take place. This also allows for celebrity “cameos” by Stephen Lewis (Mark Fraser) and Bono, pointing out the Hollywood pretension that can so often accompany charity.

Despite the great rhythm between cast members, the play’s conclusion felt a bit rushed. The tone of the play shifted too quickly, suddenly losing it’s silly feeling. However, a great moment of ad-libbing took place in these serious moments when Seymour’s estranged son (Mark Fraser) tried to leave in a huff, after disapproving of his father’s contribution to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the set’s door wouldn’t open. Looking at his father in disgust he said, “Fix your door” and walked around the set. In the end when Seymour finally, quite literally leaves footprints we know we all make a difference, even in the smallest ways.

Sister Jack

Talking Bands
by Katie Rankin

Sister JackAfter several years of metamorphosis, Sister Jack is a butterfly. Like many local bands, the group’s core has undergone line-up and sound changes, not to mention a few names. Led by singer-songwriter Andrew Murray, it stemmed out of his solo music and then self-titled band. Now with a two and a half year-old solid line-up the band has recently released their first album and developed its sound.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on playing rock and roll, for lack of a better term,” says Murray. “But not being too worried if it sounded kind of messy, kind of punk-ish at times, and of course there’s this country tinge thing that slips in.” Murray is joined by drummer Phil Kromer and bass player John Greenan, as well as Murray’s fellow English Words-man Aaron Crane on keyboard and guitar (note: Crane was not in the province at the time of this interview, so his band members drew a picture of him on a piece of Bristol board).

Sister Jack isn’t the only music in these guys’ lives. Kromer just graduated from the music department at UPEI, Murray has a year left in his music degree and almost all of them are music teachers of some kind. “We like to be professional and serious, but we do it in the most relaxed manner possible,” says Greenan. This means they’re all on the same page. “It’s nice to sell CDs to six-year old students,” adds Murray.

That CD he’s referring to is the band’s newly-released full-length Wrong Note Music that includes 11 songs in just under 29 minutes. “There’s that punk element again,” Kromer says, explaining the short songs. The guys agree these under-the-two-minute-mark tunes set them apart from other bands, but unfortunately it did cause one drunk guy at the bar to scream “Was that it!?” after the last note. However, as Greenan points out, the album works for people with short attention spans and “you can go to the liquor store and back and listen to the whole album.”

Right now the guys are working on an under-the-wraps project with another Charlottetown band and hope to tour the Maritimes if all works out. Until then, catch Sister Jack at Hunter’s on September 16 with Raccoon Bandit.

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