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Mystery System

Talking Bands

by Charissa Reeves

Scott Doyle, Curtis Klein, Tim Hamming, Matt MacKinnonThe Mystery System’s newest member, Curtis Klein, may have only joined the group this summer but his synthesizer played with the group two years ago at the 2005 Shoreline Festival.

“Essentially his synthesizer was in The Mystery System before he was,” said bassist Matt MacKinnon.

The idea for the name of the group originally came from the background of some music MacKinnon and guitarist­vocalist Tim Hamming were listening to while driving down the Bonshaw Road. The guys tossed the name around for awhile and laid it on the table for the other members of the band and found it fit, said MacKinnon

“It kind of to me, and I think to all of us, represented the fact that we didn’t really know how or why it all worked,” added Hamming.

“A lot of the song writing is really exploratory,” elaborated drummer and percussionist Scott Doyle.

The group which, has been together for about four years, has what MacKinnon calls an electro-rock-funk sound. While there is definitely alot of rock influence at the core, said Doyle, the group also brings in elements of dance and jam music. The group tries to start out with something familiar like a pop idea, said Hamming, and then incorporate other ideas.

“We definitely appreciate the energy the dance music brings,” said Doyle.

Klein joining the group has helped to drive the electronic sound home, said Hamming. “The electronic sound, it’s so modern and so relevant.”

MacKinnon said the group has brought in many different musicians to play on different songs and to jam at different shows. “So it’s not necessarily four members that make up The Mystery System—The Mystery System is what it takes.”

The group had already started laying down some bed tracks for an album and went into the studio at the end of August to start recording. MacKinnon said the group definitely has enough material for an EP but is hoping to shoot for a full length album.

While the group will be recording with Dave Skinner, many members of the band have some experience with recording equipment and hope to do some of it themselves, as well, said Doyle. “It’s sort of a fluid, organic process we’ll do whatever we can,” he said.

The group also hopes to use the album to add to its press kit, both for applying to awards such as the ECMAs and for sending to off-Island venues and festivals.

Syracuse Me

Talking Bands

by Charissa Reeves

Syracuse Me
While touring in June and searching for a place to stay Syracuse Me found a unique place to pitch a tent.

“We stopped at a truck stop in Cardinal, Ontario, and were about to set up the tent on a grassy area when the owner of the store came out and started screaming at us and told us we couldn’t set up our tent there,” said drummer Mark Duffy.

“So like jokingly KG [guitarist Kyle Gallagher] and I just asked her if we could set the tent up on top of the van, and she said ‘Yeah do what ever you want.’ She was right mad.”

So the group did.

“At night there was nobody in the parking lot,” said bassist Chris VanOuwerkerk, “and the next day it was full and everybody walking by looked.”

“Everyone was just starring at this pup tent on top of the van,” added Duffy.

The pop punk band started as a three-piece group about a year and a half ago, and after numerous member changes is now a five-piece including Duffy on drums, VanOuwerkerk, Gallagher and Jordan Walsh playing guitar, and Adam Stanley doing vocals. VanOuwerkerk is the only original member of the group.

“Gotta upgrade,” said Duffy.

Stanley and Gallagher are both members of the band Chara, while Duffy is a former member of Chara, Walsh is a member of Birmingham and VanOuwerkerk was a member of the now disbanded metal group Ares Reign.

Duffy calls the groups sound “Pop punk, happy hardcore.” Duffy and VanOuwerkerk site bands Lagwagon, Daggermouth, New Found Glory, The Full Blast and Set Your Goals, as influences. “It’s very positive,” said VanOuwerkerk.

The group hopes to start recording a full length album through Take Down Records in Halifax this fall. “After the album we’re going to start planning a two month tour hopefully out to B.C. and back,” said Duffy.

VanOuwerkerk said the most important thing to the group is to have fun. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously at all.”

“As long as the kids have a blast watching us play then we’re having a blast playing,” said Duffy.

Elephant Rock

Talking Bands

by Charissa Reeves

John Connolly, Ross MacDonald, Ian Toms, Richard KnoxNamed after the Island’s very own Elephant Rock, the group says the name is a homage to the eroding natural sculpture. Though none of the members hold any special bond with the rock.

“My sister broke here arm there, very badly,” said guitarist and vocalist John Connolly.

“What he’s not telling you is that he pushed her,” joked guitartist Ian Toms.

The band has been together for about a year although the took a four month hiatus this winter while members pursued some individual adventures. Connolly wrote a musical and traveled to Toronto to put it on in the big city, while drummer Rich Knox also traveled to Toronto to explore the music scene there. Bassist Ross MacDonald played aboard a cruise ship. “I worked the laundry room,” he laughed.

“He played bass in the laundry room,” finished Connolly.

“Those dryers keep wicked time,” Toms finished.

All four members have a background in jazz music, though Elephant Rock’s sound is anything but. “I’d say the broadest musical category you could put us into would be folk rock, but that”s pretty broad,” said MacDonald.

“We’re two parts Neil Young, one part Tom Petty and one part The Band,” said Connolly.

“But like way better than any of them,” said Toms while the table broke out in laughter.

Knox says he thinks the band’s jazz background is a benefit but so is the work they’ve put into not sounding jazzy.

“Most songs have a guitar solo or two and I think our jazz background allows us to,” he paused.

“Allows us to explore,” finished MacDonald. “We don’t play the same notes everytime we play.”

“I just play one note all the time,” laughed Connolly.

“Homage to the Cinnamon Girl solo,” added Toms.

Wednesday is the new Friday say the members of Elephant Rock. The group is playing every Wednesday night until the end of August at Fishbones on Victoria Row. The band also hopes to put out a full album by the end of the summer.

The 20,000

Talking Bands

by Charissa Reeves

The 20,000 throw down in the fountain, from left: Brendan, Nick and DannyStarting off with just three members Charlottetown’s The 20,000 hopes to eventually turn the group into a seven or eight piece band. The group is writing as a three piece and will play as a three piece with room to add in horns, keyboards and percussion in the future, said drummer Danny Miles.

Trying to describe the groups sound brought up some interesting and cryptic answers from the members.

“If William Shatner played soccer this is the music he would listen too while he was playing,” said Miles.

“If Wayne Gretzky, Mike Tyson, Ben Marlow played in a Miles Davis cover band,” started bassist Brendan Hansen before trailing off as the other two came up with more ridiculous ways to describe the music the band plays.

Guitarist Nick Campbell said the sound is the opposite of evolution. “It’s kind of like when the first fish stepped out of the water onto land. It’s not like that at all. It’s the exact opposite, we’re going back into the water.”When the three stopped laughing the answers start to make a little more sense. “In all honesty it would be under the umbrella of rock, but it would be a little more dancy,” said Campbell.

“A little more jazzy,” adds Miles.

All three members not only write and sing the original music, but they also live together. “We have triple bunk beds,” jokes Miles. This helps add to the eclectic mixture of genres which goes into the songs, because each members is exposed to the other two members listening choices, said Campbell.

“It’s like a group hug on mushrooms,” said Miles.

The group played its first gig at a benefit for Robbie Fraser at the Cornwall Roadhouse with three other bands on May 26. The band is also scheduled to play at the Festival of Lights, though the time hasn’t been set yet.

Before forming the group Miles and Campbell played with Stride,Campbell with Slow Joey, and Hansen and Miles were in The Stolen Saints.

Apart from adding more instruments to the band, the group is also currently working on a demo recorded by Campbell, and hopes to soon start work on a full length album and hopes to tour this summer.

Saddle River String Band

Talking Bands

by Charissa Reeves

Left to right: Troy McArthur, Tommy Desroches, James Phillips, Mike DixonFormerly known as Saddle River, the Saddle River String Band from Summerside has re-grouped with one member change, a new album and a repertoire of original music.

The group’s newest member Tommy Desroches bought his upright bass after jamming with the group about three years ago, when former member Catherine MacLellan was still a member of the group. Desroches said he already played electric bass at the time and thought the group would be a good fit for him. “So I bought the upright bass and it took them a year and a half to call me.”

The current lineup includes Desroches on bass, James Phillips playing mandolin, Troy McArthur playing banjo and Mike Dixon playing guitar with all members singing both lead and backup vocals. “Everybody sings in the band, we all sing our asses off,” said Dixon.

The boys have been playing together since the middle of last summer and released their self-titled, 12 track CD at the Haviland Club on April 21, features seven originals, a guest appreance by Norm Bowser playing dobro (slide guitar) on some of the tracks and what Dixon calls “off-the-beaten-track covers.”

“They are traditional, they’re public domain, but they’re mostly blues songs we’ve covered, almost all of them and then we just kind of ‘Saddle River’ them.” finished Desroches.

Dixon said although the intruments make the group look like a bluegrass band at first glance the sound has a bit more of a rock edge. “If you play banjo in a band everybody thinks you’re bluegrass, but we’re definitely not bluegrass.” The band has more of a roots sound, he said. “I would typify it as bluegrass slash folk, blues, ragtime, country.”

Apart from playing with the Saddle River String Band, Desroches also plays with Nathan Wiley. Dixon and McArthur were the Rattlesnakin Daddies, while Phillips was a member of the New Drifts and Le Funk 6.

The band plans to play off-Island more in the future, said Dixon. “Actually one of our intentions isn’t to do the bar scene because we’re obviously not playing bar music. We’re actually trying to rent halls on the Island.” The band will also perform at both the Evangeline Bluegrass Music Festival and the 22nd Annual Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival in Rollo Bay this year.

Cheers to Beers

Talking Bands

by Charissa Reeves

Left to right: Craig Abbot, J-Mike, Brandon Bowers, Charlie Chisholm holding Jakob PoirierCharlottetown’s current longest-running band on the all ages scene lives up to it’s name claim members of Cheer To Beers.

“We pretty much drink too much and contradict ourselves all the time,” said guitarist J-Mike, the self-proclaimed King of C-Town. While playing mainly for the all ages scene on the Island, their bar shows are most often in more punk-friendly venues off-Island according to singer Jakob Poirier.

This may change soon. The band’s first gig at the the Crazy Neighbor on March 10 went off without a hitch and offers hope of future shows. The band ripped it up to an audience full of mohawks, spiked and studded leather and jean jackets, and fans straining necks to sing along with Poirier as he leaned into the audience fist raised, mic in hand.

“Without the C-Town crew we would be nowhere,” J-Mike said.

“Yeah, big props to the C-Town crew, that’s our crew, that’s our army,” adds Poirier.

“That’s what made the band the band,” adds bassist Brandon Bowers.

The band has been around for about four years, changing it’s lineup over the time. The current lineup includes Poirier doing vocals, Craig Abbot on drums, J-Mike and Charlie Chisholm playing guitar, Bowers playing bass, and has been in play for about a year.

“We’ve broke up probably 100 times,” said J-Mike.

“But the next morning we get back together,” said Poirier.

“It’s a love hate relationship. Drunken escapades mostly,” said J-Mike.

“We love playing together but we hate being around each other,” laughs Bowers.

J-Mike and Bowers used to be in the bands First Class Disaster/Chaos 101. J-Mike and Chisholm were in Dickman. Chisholm was also in a band called Kevin Arnold. Poirier was in the group Insubordination out of Halifax. Poirier and Boweres are currently in a side-project group with a name too raunchy to print.

The band has big plans for the near future including a new album to be recorded in June, new merchandise,their own low-budget music video and a tour late this summer. “We’re not looking for any bullshit, we’re just looking for a good time. Alot of booze and a lot of good times is all we care about,” said Poirier.



Talking Bands
by Charissa Reeves

Donald Younie, Brien McCarthy and Eli MacDougallAfter breaking down twice in six months in two different vehicles, on two different trips in the same community in Cape Breton, AnnaPilla doesn’t tour very often anymore.

On the first trip over band members Brien McCarthy, bass, Eli MacDougall, drums, and Donald Younie, guitar and vocals, were traveling into St. Peters with a guy whose parents know someone everywhere, said MacDougall. He found them a place to stay with a nice old couple, MacDougall said. “We slept in their basement and they fed us crackers and spam,” McCarthy said.

The second time, the band broke down about 20 minutes away from St. Peters and had to get a tow into the village, MacDougall said. “Brien hid in the back of the truck because we couldn’t fit anymore people in the tow truck.” MacDougall said the band asked if the members could ride in their own truck, but were of course told no. “Meanwhile I’m in the back underneath guitars and blankets,” said McCarthy. Once in town the band called up the same old couple again. “They said come back if you ever get broke down again,” said McCarthy. “When we got up the next morning they made us these huge six-inch subs with like five different kinds of meat on them and sent us on our way,” MacDougall said.

The band has been together for about five years and started out as a four piece band, then slimmed down to three, said MacDougall. “Then we beefed up to four, then we slimmed down to three again,” said Younie. MacDougall said it all began with him and McCarthy talking. McCarthy told MacDougall he should get some drums. “He said he’d learn bass if I learned drums so that’s how it started.” “And I’m just a freelance,” said Younie.

MacDougall plays some solo shows around town as well as being a part of the band and McCarthy occasionally plays with Gary Chipman. Once a year the group goes up to Morell, where the members are from, to do a benefit concert for the high school.

The band has one self-titled demo out, and is hoping to release a full-length 12 track album entitled Ground Tails in the next couple of months. AnnaPilla recently joined forces with Sandbar Music for help with distribution of their recording.

“Plans for the future,” said MacDougall, “probably to get every wanker out to the show.” The other two laugh and he adds, “You can smell the sarcasm from here.”

Royal Rifles

Talking Bands

by Charissa Reeves

Royal Rifles (left to right): Roger Carter, Mark Palmer, Shiloh McGuire and Todd MacKinnon. They do not smoke or drink—ashtrays and bottles are photo props. But they do ride bikes.Prince Edward Island band the Royal Rifles honour’s of one of the member’s grandfather and his squadron. Mark Palmer’s grandfather was in the Royal Rifles squadron during the second World War when he was taken and held as a prisoner of war for four years. “So I snagged it in respect for him,” Palmer said.

Band members are Palmer, vocals and guitar, Shiloh McGuire playing drums, Roger Carter playing the organ and Todd MacKinnon playing bass. Before Carter joined the band MacKinnon played guitar and Timothy Peters played bass. “When Peters left the group in 2005 MacKinnon switched to bass and a little later Carter joined,” said Palmer. “I was tricked into it,” quips Carter. The band has been playing together since last March. Before joining the Royal Rifles, Carter played for the band Motel Money Murder, Strawberry, and is currently the drummer for Double Ought Buckshot. “We’re gonna call it [the band] Roger’s Rifles,” jokes McGuire.

The band hopes to have its first album released by June, Palmer said. “On the hottest day of the summer,” adds Carter. It hopes to put out three albums this year, two full-length and one EP, said Palmer.

Carter describes the band’s sound as “creamy.” “We’ll leave that at that, definitely creamy,” laughs McGuire. “We like playing shows with the band Boxer The Horse,” said Palmer when asked what bands they like to do shows with. “But they’re too young to play with us. I wish they could play for our show without hassle,” he said. “It’s too bad they can’t play without all that legal bullshit,” adds McGuire. “We also like Pat and the Orb Weavers,” said Palmer.

“We’re kind of chaos all the time in the bars,” said MacKinnon. “The band needs a professional sound man to play a good show,” said Palmer. “Everybody has to be in a good mood,” said McGuire. “The crowd not to be wankers,” adds Palmer and laughs.

The band’s aspirations are “world domination,” McGuire said. “We want to start a revolution,” he kids. “We get a cult audience and nobody that’s ordinary listens to us cause we don’t like them,” Palmer said as the rest of the members laughed.

The band will play an all ages youth showcase at Murphy’s Community Centre on February 23.

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