If you've been following this year's Peak Performance Project BC at all, you might have seen some band names you recognize, and some that seem to have appeared out of nowhere. The PPP is a great opportunity for bands who might not have been terribly active lately, or who have gone through member changes or other circumstances, to firm up their acts and get their schnitzel together.
For Joy District, that meant shedding an old band skin and taking Julie Andrew's advice to start at the very beginning. They got a new band name, new songs, and started fresh after some old projects wrapped up - leaving us with a band that few people knew entering one of the most popular and rewarding band contests in Canada. Jess chatted with Eli of Joy District as they were getting ready for the next day's 2-ferry journey from their homebase of Denman Island to Vancouver for their PPP showcase, and this is part of their conversation.
How's the music scene on Denman?
For how small it is it's sactually not too bad. There's quite a lot of local talent, but it's kind of a one or two show a month kind of deal. There's definitely nothing really going on for young folks.
How did you end up on Denman?
My family moved here when Iwas 6 and our drummer Keelan grew up here his whole entire life, we've been neighbours. I moved to Victoria when I graduated and we all spent a few years in Vancouver and we've all moved around the west and BC a bit.
How was Joy District born?
We've been playing music together, some of us , for like 10 years now. We were a different band called MCM which stood for Multi Coloured Mischief. That was a party band kind of in the genres of latin, reggae. punk - we were flailing about musical genres. It was pretty Peak-oriented that we reformed and rebranded under some guidance from a bit of a mentor. We came up with a new name so we could shed that old skin and pretty close to the beginning of the Peak we put it all together.
Who was your mentor?
Ryan Guldemond from Mother Mother. Actuall our guitar player, Lenny's sister is Jasmine Parkin.
He hepes us a lot, he produced the two tracks that were in the application and he got us a ways along in becoing a marketable band and he's an inspiring guy.
Do you feel like you got a lot of support from the Denman locals, like they rallied to send you out for the PPP?
Not too much of a rally, everybody in the whole community is very supportive but there are guys that are like 'Oh, we hear dyou're in a battle of the bands,' and they don't understand exactly what the deal is but they know we're up to something. We've been playing together and know we're in the local scene and people are like 'You guys are doing so good, I saw your website!' so it's funny how simple things like having a website make a difference.
How would you describe music, and what do you want your music to sound like as it evolves?
Now I'd say we're kind of like if TV on the Radio and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Bee Gees had a pissed-off, emo, younger sister with a dark edge, who would be kind of like hard rock and have fun and try and get everyone invited to our party kind of deal.
For the next phase it would just kind of be good to evolve and mature kind of as songwriters, breaking down and learning to fit into the genre of alt-rock. In some ways that gives us more creative to narrow it down and fit inside of a box. I think the main thing is going to be playing more shows and owning our live sound.
You did a tour over the summer?
We did a bit of a little island tour.
Was that your first time touring as Joy District?
Yes, that was the first time under the Joy District band. Doing a circuit of shows.
How did it go?
It went really well. Being in a band with your best friends and your brother, when you're going out and playing consecutive nights in a row - it's an advantage to crash in the floor of a friend's place or whatever we need to do to make it work. Being new in the touring aspect is very exciting. We're going to kind of enjoy sleeping in floors and eating junkie dinners while we still can.
What was the hardest part?
I'd have to say the hardest part was keeping it together after we played and making sure we're alright. We did go off to a couple Gulf Islands, so making sure we're up and at em' and catch our ferry and not having too much fun on those crazy Gulf Islands.
You must take a lot of ferries. What do you do to keep busy?
We like to always be planning on ways to somehow avoid the full price ferry ticket. That's always fun. It can get quite creative. My guitar player is the only one who doesn't live on Denman and you've just gotta make the ferry time your time. Clean your car, catch up on your reading, we take a lot of ferries so I like to just nap personally.
Who are the members of your band?
The tall long haired man is the drummer, Keelan Gamble. He's me and my brother's neighbour on Denman from where we were raised, he lived 2 farms down from our parents. He's definitely the strong character in the group, he did real well at boot camp. He's a strong Leo, really driven. Without him around it would be a lot harder for us all to hit deadlines, let's just say that.
The other non-ginger in the group, in one of our pictures has really long hair too - Lenny Parkins, Jasmine's brother, he's quite the rock. I'm sure he's kind of the go-to for any venting. He's the emotoinal rock and we send him out to do business and meet people. Lenny's mom actually was the midwife at me and my brother's birth, we've been pretty tight.
Our brother Jodie is the bigger of the gingers, we were going to name our band for a long time Waiting for Jordan because in set breaks or waiting to start we'd always be looking for Jordie or running around and he'd alway be somewhere close by having a drink or talking. He's the best brother I could ask for and he's real sweet. Luckily we're really tight, best buddies. He plays the synth bass, singing a lot of bacup vocals and Lenny is playing the lead guitar.
Is the live video for "Burned" your only video?
That's our only video because our Peak intro video is our other video - but we had to take it down off the internet because we had to do some reshooting and reediting. We had a few rookie mistakes there. We had a videographer but what we did was when we filmed, we kind of did it as a game of life and started going off rope swings on Denman and loading up gear and going to a little island and playing a show for friends. But the show was on BC Parks land and there were some noise complaints and BC Parks looked into it and contacted the Peak. There were some Parks reps there and we kind of asked them if it was OK and in the end it wasn't OK.
Super fun to shoot though. It was such a fun, fun day of... we've done a lot of different shows around here that involve an adventure. There's an awesome nonprofit festival we played and you basically have to load your gear into a 4-wheel drive and get there and we thought it was fun to include that adventure/show/playing/party that has been a part of our show live.
What are you going to do with the money if you win the Peak?
Well... if we win the Peak, I mean... for one, what we've already got out of the Peak is that it's so much bigger than we really realized in May what we'd gotten in. We were extremely excited but had no idea really what we were going to do and what we were going to take out of it. The bootcamp was really exciting and if we win the money we'll probably put it towards recording and touring. We've got a really great team that we were fortunate enough to start recording with, but unfortunately a great team costs a great amount of money so if we're getting 50 grand or 100 grand that would be sweet. Buy some new gear, and take over the world basically. It will be our kick off to taking over the industry and then taking over the world. It will all be a part of the excecution.
What do you want people to know before seeing your showcase?
Well... bring your party shoes and don't be shy. We kind of feel like we always have a big family connection witn our fans and anybody we work with. Don't be shy! During our set or after our set we'd love nothing more than talking to people who like our music. We're just really looking forward to playing our music.