Last week’s snowfall, brief blizzard conditions and typical rolling of SUVs in ditches is something The Matinee wants to avoid when they hit the valley this week.
Just a short while ago, the Vancouver roots rockers toured B.C.’s Kootenays and re-experienced interior winter conditions.
“So we’ve got snow tires on the van, got a block heater… we’re good now for another trip into Alberta,” said The Matinee founder Matt Rose.
The Matinee is Rose (vocals, guitar, pedal steel), co-founder Matt Layzell (vocals, harmonica), Geoff Petrie (guitar, percussion, vocals), Mike Young (bass, vocals), Dave Young (keys, mandolin, vocals) and Pete Lemon (drums, vocals). The six-piece play the Rose & Crown in Banff, tonight through Saturday (Jan. 6-8).
Formed in 2007 by the two Matts, most members of the band went to high school together, but then drifted apart over a span of some years – which often happens.
Prior to ’07, though, the Matts re-connected in the Lower Mainland. Rose had been playing in country rock bands, while Layzell had been playing hard rock.
“We started writing and playing coffee shops and acoustic gigs,” said Rose. “Then we got to the point where we had material and we knew we didn’t want to do just acoustic, so we brought in the guys.
“We went from doing it for fun in the beginning to having a solidified lineup by 2008.”
An early EP with the Matts and a different band on it was then followed by a six-track self-titled EP by The Matinee crew in 2009. Currently, work is progressing toward a new full-length release for early in 2011.
Since putting the band together, radio success has followed, with the single “San Diego”, an ode to an unpaid speeding ticket, charting on college radio across the country, while “Mama”, a musical hug for moms, receives big airplay around Mother’s Day.
The band has tirelessly played bars, prisons, festivals, high schools, CFB Cold Lake, NXNE festival and at Canadian Music Week; anywhere they can put The Matinee sound in front of an audience. Rather than engaging in draining cross-Canada tours, the band has focused on making regular short tours to build a fan base.
In 2010, the single “Let Her Go” was featured on a 2010 Music B.C. compilation album and landed the band in the top 10 for the The Shore FM’s Sounds of Summer Contest.
These days, The Matinee is putting in up to 150 gigs a year. On this tour, the five-piece Gaston Royals will open a number of Matinee gigs, including Banff. In all, for Rose & Crown gigs, music will be provided by 10 musicians (Dave Taylor couldn’t make the tour for The Matinee).
Band influences range from Wilco to The Band to Black Crowes and the sound features country and roots-flavoured rock tunes with tight instrumental crafting and multiple harmonies.
When it comes to songwriting, the Matts tend to launch things by bringing a melody or chorus to the band, “then the six of us get in a room, break it down, then reconstruct. Often, it totally changes from where it starts. Basically, we’re all songwriters, so we take a song and put the group’s stamp on it.
“Not to take liberties, but we’re kind of like The Band; always evolving,” said Rose. “Part of the reason for this tour is we want to road test new songs and see how people like them. How people like the music is taken into account.
“We’ve been writing new songs for a while, we did a group writing thing on the Island (Vancouver Island). We have a lot of material for an album, but we want to have the best songs we can come up with.
“And we’re looking forward to playing in Banff. The Gastown Royals are good friends of ours and they’re super excited about being on the road; it’s their first time. They’re a bunch of guy who all worked at a bar together where we used to play and they decided to put a band together.”
These days, band members are working toward making The Matinee a full-time reality and dumping day jobs. Once a new album is completed a busy festival summer season is in the works.
The band is also involved in playing high schools as part of the B.C. government’s Artstarts Program. “Which is pretty cool,” said Rose. “It pays well and it helps get our music out there for the students, you never know what they’ll like, but when I was in high school in Vancouver, we never had live music right in our school.”
Having played regular gigs in B.C. and Alberta, even into Saskatchewan, Rose said the band has noticed more people turning up to hear them. “I think if you play a place enough times, people start to know what they’re getting. It’s about building a musical relationship.”