This month I will be posting daily journals and features about my work as well as special fiction releases and many other exciting things over the course of the next 30 days. For more info you can read my first two posts about Take Back September here and here.
Writing about Rock Stars
Walking through Oshawa’s downtown, the midday traffic on the street beside me was fairly non-existent. I turned beside an old stone building and headed down one of the side streets. My meeting was at cafe, tucked away from the busier parts of downtown.
I grabbed myself a cup of coffee, dropped down onto the patio beside Kevin Comeau and we started chatting. The preamble before Cody Bowles arrived. When he did, I clicked on my recorder and started gathering my information.
If the names don’t sound familiar to you, they will soon enough. These guys are the rock duo Crown Lands, and to me, they sound like a mash-up between the psych-rock of Rush and the punch-in-face power of Wolfmother.
In short, they’re music is fantastic, and they’re starting to turn a lot of heads.
If you remember, I first encountered these guys back on Canada when they played the stage at Oshawa’s party in Lakeview Park. The shot I got of Comeau (see cover 👆) is probably still my favourite front page of The Express in my last three years here.
I was in the trench between the band and the crowd for that show, and while I was being blasted by the speakers directly beside me, I was also blown away by the guys’ talent.
Here’s a taste. 👇
So, with both of them now being local, I reached out for an interview, and it turned out they were happy to oblige. It was a decision I grew to respect as our interview went on at the cafe.
Both of them work multiple jobs, and as an independent band they manage their own tour schedule, all the while trying to remain creative and pumping out new music. Next week they release their second EP, Rise Over Run (their first EP Mantra is ABSOLUTELY fantastic, grab it on iTunes). Basically, I was thrilled they gave me the chance to sit down and hear their story.
It turns out, both of them are absolutely great dudes.
After creating Mantra in a short two-day burst, the two went on a 17-day east coast tour playing 14 shows in that timespan. They booked zero hotels, most nights the two would find a place to stay simply by letting the crowd know they had nowhere to sleep. They only spent two nights sleeping in the van, and even then, it was all part of the experience.
“It wasn’t even that bad, we’d crawl up on our gear at the end of the night, we’d have maybe a foot of room to just squeeze in,” Cody told me with a laugh.
The two told me stories of crazy nights driving through winter storms in Eastern Ontario, playing a show in Montreal as the streets flooded outside, and they shared their beginnings of jamming in a barn converted into a studio before Crown Lands became Crown Lands.
It’s an origin story that oozes with passion and creativity. A story that has grit and determination around the edges, just like any good rock and roll story. And it’s inspiring, plain and simple.
Yesterday, I wanted to capture all of that when I wrote their story.
That interview was a couple weeks back, and in the interim, my competition in Oshawa has since written their own story about these guys and their upcoming album release. Kevin was kind enough to ask, after our interview, if it was okay for them to speak to the other media. I of course said yes, the more exposure for these guys, the better.
I did tell him one thing though, whatever story my competition wrote, I vowed that mine would be better.
And I’m a man of my word.
I find myself growing more and more experimental with my feature stories. It’s something I’ve done in the past, and something that paid dividends recently, when my story on the Lutczyk saga won me the top feature writing award with the Ontario Community Newspaper’s Association (OCNA). With that story, I turned the real life action of the kidnaping and turned it into a narrative that I based my story around.
Now, the structure itself is something I’m comfortable with, having structured many fiction stories. However, when doing this in journalism, it takes A LOT more attention to detail because you’re talking about real events instead of ones that have simply been made up.
With that aside, I wanted to try and do something that captured this gritty origin story, something that not only showed the amount of work these guys put in, but showed this psych-rock feeling that is not only their music, but seems to ooze from these guys as well.
During the interview, we talked about a lot of things, along with their story. I got the inside scoop on their upcoming EP, and we talked about bigger issues, like the message they’re trying to share with their new music, as well as the balance between success and sticking to your creative objectives.
Already, the band has seen pressure and push that if they simply dropped some of the more experimental aspects of their music, they could perhaps market the song a bit more successfully.
“It’s a double-edged sword because there’s trends in all forms of art and movements and I think that’s important to recognize and be part of a scene,” Kevin says. “On one hand you want to become successful in your field, of course, this is our craft, this is our dream, we want to sustain ourselves playing music. But on the other hand you have to sustain that, you have to fulfill yourself first.”
So, trying to unpack all of this was a lot to do yesterday in the office. However, after a few hours, I had the bones of the story and practically 1,100 words down. I’ve already set aside a full page for the story, and have a couple ideas for how I’m going to lay it out. With that said, I’m super excited for you all to read this one, as I’ve mentioned before.
It’s the first music related feature I’ve written, and it brings a lot of challenges with different language and writing about topics I’m not completely comfortable with. However, I based the story in the foundation of what I am comfortable with, and that’s telling a good story. So, I focused on doing that first, and let the details be filled in after I got that done with.
I think the final product is great. It’ll be published on Wednesday. 👌
Thanks for reading!
P.S. If you’re in the Oshawa area on Sept. 8, the Moustache Club is hosting the release party for Crown Land’s latest EP Rise Over Run. I’ve received an advanced copy, and trust me when I say it’s fu#$%ing incredible. I’ll be there hoping to get some further pictures of Kevin’s hair acting like it has a mind of its own. If you’re around, come out and show some support!