by Fraser McCallum
PEI’s music scene is well represented in indie-rock, folk and traditional genres, but that depth drops off if you’re looking for live dance music. Enter Solid Gold Workout, a band that has been making a local name for itself with a balls-to-the-walls live show. “The music scene kicks ass here but there is very little electronic or dance stuff,” says keyboardist Bruce Rooney. “There’s definitely a gap we aim to fill and the crowds really get into it.”
The group has been playing for under a year but has gained a steady local fan club and is now finishing work on their debut EP. Their lineup includes lead singer and guitarist Josh Carter, bassist Evan McCosham, guitarist Matt Mackinnon, drummer Kevin MacKay, and Rooney on keys and synth.
“Four of the five of us are from down East,” says Carter, over a coffee at Timothy’s. “Down there it’s all jam music. We wanted to maintain that spirit but bring more structure and song-writing to the table.”
True to form, Solid Gold Workout was born out of inspired jams at the apartment of McCosham, Carter and Rooney. Mackinnon (who had played with Rooney in electro-rock group, the Mystery System) was recruited for lead guitar and after a few ‘Spinal Tap-esque’ drummer rotations, MacKay came on board to round out the troupe.
Taking their name from a ridiculous Youtube exercise video (search ‘Solid Gold Fitness’ for a hearty laugh) the reference is both tongue-in-cheek and true to the irrefutable dance party their music creates. SGW’s sound is now defined by punchy keys and synth riffs, Carter’s lyrical hooks and rock-solid drumming (think Phoenix or Passion Pit). Rooney, who with McCosham does most of the music writing, tries to avoid pattern, however. “Our songs are complex and we try to build them up with lots of harmonies, breakdowns, and timing changes.”
When asked of their musical roots, the four Kings County band-members thank music teachers like Bob Kromer and Kirk White, and rave of their musical upbringing. “Montague was bleeding bands left and right,” recalls Rooney. “Music was way bigger than gym class. And if you didn’t go on to play in bar bands, you went into music education.”
Today, SGW is excited to release their first album, which they recorded over a winter weekend with Adam Gallant (Haunted Hearts, English Words). The yet-to-be-titled album will include four new songs along with the track “Downtown,” an electro-pop single they recorded with John Matthews last fall. Aiming for a mid-summer release, the boys are in no rush for fame and fortune.
“We want to do lots of playing and keep developing,” says bassist McCosham. “Right now we’re enjoying working on everything and practicing a ton. We’re really constructive at rehearsal and always accomplish something.”
The whole band speaks with this same earnest positivity and they’re excited to see the live show progressing. “The life force of this band is about taking everyone’s ideas and ambition and putting on these huge nights,” says Rooney. “We love doing this. What people will see at our gigs is a sweaty, crazy time but a fun, eventful show you will dance to.”
Get your gold on. SGW are at Baba’s July 22. Check local listings for more upcoming dates.