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Racoon Bandit

Talking Bands
by Laura Yorke

Fraser McCallum, Adam Gallant, Chris Doiron, Roger Carter, and new guy

When Fraser McCallum asked Pat Deighan if his new band could open for the Orb Weavers, he wasn’t expecting a gig so soon. But Deighan’s response was, “How about next Friday?” and asked McCallum to send him a band name as soon as he could. And just like that, Racoon Bandit began their journey.

The band formed in the early winter of 2008. They have been busy recording and playing shows, recently playing an off-Island gig in Halifax. “It’s cool playing in a bar with faces we’ve never seen before,” said McCallum.

Their music has a very strong folk sound and draws influences from Bob Dylan and Fleet Foxes, while staying original as possible, said McCallum. “We’re all very aware of music that’s out there and music that’s been out there and we try not to sound like that.”

The band benefits from its talented members who have been playing on their own and in other bands for years. Lead guitarist Adam Gallant is a sound engineer and Roger Carter is a well-known figure in the music scene around Charlottetown.

McCallum said there’s a lot of support from other local bands and, right now especially, there seems to be a lot of talent coming out of Charlottetown. “There’s never been so many good bands.” Every band has room to grow, especially one as new as Racoon Bandit. “There’s a lot you can do with a band to make it the best it can be,” said McCallum.

They recently played an all-ages show, which turned out to be a lot different than playing in a bar. “It was a bit daunting,” said McCallum. “It was like going into a town with a bunch of people you didn’t know.”

Each time the band plays, it’s a learning experience, said Gallant. “We’ve played as though it’s our first show every time.” But playing lots of different venues has payed off. The band no longer has to hunt down gigs, they tend to just come to them.

Racoon Bandit are in the midst of recording an EP and plan to release it some time in July.

The Constables

Talking Bands
by Laura Yorke

The Constables: Mike Carver, Mitchell LeBlanc, Ben Cameron and Ethan Fenton (photo: Image Factory)

Sometimes it’s refreshing to take a break from the stereotypical rock and roll sound dominating radio stations everywhere. The Constables offer that breath of fresh air. Their upbeat lyrics and heavily acoustic sound stands out in a sea of Nickelback wannabees.

Lead singer Ethan Fenton played solo for many years, but has now found his niche with fellow bandmates Mitchell LeBlanc, Ben Cameron and Mike Carver. Most of the guys met while teaching at a Christian camp, said Fenton. “Oh, the joys of camp counselling.” And it’s no wonder their christianity crosses over into their music. “It’s hard to keep Jesus out when he’s in our lives,” said Fenton.

But the Constables don’t call themselves a Christian band and consider themselves just like any other band trying to get away from the cliche rock image. “We’re not that different. There’s a lot of bands going around with a good message in their songs these days, it doesn’t necessarily have to go back to christianity. People aren’t just thinking about girls and drinking anymore,” said Fenton. It’s a good age for music, he said, because people can actually have some morals and ethics.

“And talent,” said LeBlanc, with a laugh. In fact, the band favours playing to an all-ages crowd rather than a bar crowd.

“They’re by far the best crowd I’ve ever played for,” said Fenton. Especially in Charlottetown where there seems to be such a passion and respect for music, said Fenton. “You can go from here to Nashville and the East Coast is still going to be fairly well known.”

LeBlanc noted this year’s East Coast Music Awards held in Cornerbrook, NL, which featured many Island acts.

When the ECMAs return to PEI in 2011, The Constables have their sights set on a showcase, said Fenton.

But it won’t be easy. Booking gigs and getting your name out there takes work, he said. “It’s more like rock paper scissors than a race. One day it will be you and the next day it won’t.” The Constables are ready for that commitment, he said. “Our attitude as a band since January has always been we will work towards everything and run head first at it, see what doors slam in our faces and the ones that open we just run through them.”

The band plans to do some recording this summer and hope to have an EP out in the fall. In the meantime, they will keep playing shows and entertaining their fans. The Constables’ next show is April 22. The venue is to be announced.



Talking Bands

by Laura Yorke

Chris Gaudette, Craig St. Jean, Dani Dowling, Ryan Hale and Chris Doucette

In a world where parents are blaming heavy metal music for their child’s anger issues, one band is out there proving them wrong.

Uigg have played many shows around the Maritimes and have seen the reaction young kids have to their music. “Anyone who thinks metal is angry is a fool. It’s the most therapeutic thing in the world,” said Dani Dowling, lead singer for the band.

Guitarist Chris Gaudette agreed. “It’s really uplifting, especially for a lot of kids. It’s a positive outlet for all the negativity going on.”

A common thing to see at rock shows is moshing—people thrashing around and throwing themselves into one another. The act is perceived by many as violent and aggressive, but bassist Ryan Hale said it’s quite the opposite. “Kids, when they mosh, it’s like girls going to the bar [to dance]. You’re not going to the mosh pit to hurt someone, you’re going to have fun.”

Seeing young people having a great time at their shows is a very rewarding feeling, said Dowling. “There’s no greater high in the world than seeing someone out there giving as much to your art as you put into it.”

Gaudette called it an energy circle. “You put energy into it and they feed it back to you.”

The guys like to use humour in their shows, with props and costumes. “We want to play good music, but we want to put on a good show, too,” said Hale.

Dowling has even dressed as Santa Claus, among other things. “It’s way better when I get on stage and put on an Optimus Prime helmet,” he said.

Of course, they’re careful not to overshadow their music too much. “We’re not like Kiss where we focus all on the theatrics, but we do put on the show. We’ve always believed that the show is not just about getting up and playing our songs well … which is probably why we don’t play our songs well,” said Gaudette, with a laugh.

It’s all about pretending, said Dowling. “If you project the image that you are the best band in the world, the crowd feeds off that.”

Of course, Uigg wouldn’t be Uigg without the power from a certain east coast delicacy. “We are completely fueled by donairs,” said Gaudette.

Basically, the band combines the three greatest things in the whole world, said Dowling. “Professional wrestling, metal and donairs.”

Uigg’s music will soon reach further than the Maritimes. They have just released their first LP through Diminished Fifth Records within Charlottetown and will be distributing it throughout Europe in early March.

String Theory

Talking Bands
by Laura Yorke

Joseph Simon, Jamie Crawford, Nathan Gill, Mike Carver, Josh Simon

From performing at open mic nights, jamming in a basement and playing real gigs, String Theory has grown to become a solid act. Formed in August of 2008, they played their first show at The Guild in Charlottetown and after that they had a show almost every week for three months.

Jamie Crawford, Nathan Gill, Josh Simon, Simon Joseph and Mike Carver gather in Carver’s basement to practice. The walls are covered with U2, Jimi Hendrix and The Strokes. It’s not hard to see the band draws from many different artists, even more so once you listen to them.

“We all have very different styles. It technically shouldn’t come together because it’s so different,” said Simon.

But, somehow, it does. Switching things up doesn’t seem to hurt either.

“[‘Good As Gone’] was a totally different song four months ago,” said Carver.

The guys will even take on one another’s individual styles. “’None of That’ is a song I wrote pretending to be Nathan,” said Crawford.

The band does have three guitar players, though, and sometimes it can get a little tricky, said Gill. “We’re still a new band, still trying to work that stuff out.” The key, he said, is to cut back and try to pick and choose who plays on what songs, rather than trying to fit three guitar parts into every song. This avoids a cluttered sound and a cluttered stage as the boys often play small venues around Charlottetown.

“The last show we played at Hunter’s I was getting hit in the neck by his guitar, and his guitar,” said Crawford as he gestured to his bandmates. But even getting hit by a guitar couldn’t throw these guys off. They tend to laugh at mistakes and move on from them easily.

When Joseph’s patch cord fell out at a show, Crawford reacted quickly. “I just looked back and Simon’s looking down at his bass. I had to cover for him on guitar.”

This kind of chemistry shows even in practice. When someone hits the wrong note, they just laugh and keep going. It probably has something to do with the fact that the guys have been friends since high school. “It’s just like hanging out while playing music,” said Simon.

Recently, the band has been recording their first EP, entitled, We Don’t Want Your Money. It comes from a lyric in their song “Cap Gun” and it is also a reference to their independence. “We’re going to try to do it all by ourselves so it won’t cost so much and we’re going to give it out for free,” said Crawford.

With this kind of do-it-yourself approach to music, it’s clear String Theory can only go further.

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