by Jaclyn Killins
The waivers are signed and Charlottetown all-ages music mainstay New Royalty are about to step out of church basements and friend’s living rooms and into the bar scene with their danceable indie fun.
The bounty of a summer of non-stop practicing and recording is their first EP, Sleepover, recorded off the floor with John Matthews. After spending so much time together, 20 hours-a-week on top of full-time summer jobs, the band was ready to throttle one another but they pulled through and are excited to forge forward together.
The band is comprised of Tristan Gray on drums, Morgan O’Leary on keys, Isaac Berzins on rhythm guitar, Chris Francis on bass and Ben Schulman on guitar, with Lily Forsythe providing vocals. They formed a little over a year ago when a facebook group entitled lets make a band followed through with its proclamation.
Tristan is 5 years older than the other members and they don’t let him forget it.
“He’s our legal guardian,” Chris says.
“Grandpy, can we go to Frosty Treat later?” Isaac quips.
Every moment the 22-year-old drummer spends with the band is full of nostalgia. He’s been a part of the all-ages scene since he was in grade 8 and is obviously not in a hurry to leave.
The youthful nature of the band comes forth in the music. The songs change pace, going from poppy intros to ballads for bridges and back to fast, hand-clapping, lyric-yelling good times, keeping the listener guessing as to what comes next.
Ben says his math teacher, Island musician Ian Toms, compares their sound to the New Pornographers.
Despite the incessant put-downs, high-fives and otherwise silly randomness when together, the kids of New Royalty are a multi-talented and intelligent bunch. Grade 12 students Morgan and Ben played in jazz bands on Victoria Row this summer while Tristan donned the garb and the persona of one of the Fathers of Confederation. Lily, a grade 12 student, writes the lyrics to all the songs. Fresh out of high school, Chris is headed to UPEI to study liberal arts and Isaac is set to venture off with Katamivik.
The name New Royalty may be a reference to the twisted social class structure of celebrity, but it is fitting for a group of young musicians who stand poised to supplant the Island music scene in years to come.