Out of the thousands upon thousands of Canadian bands that emerge onto the scene every year, very few manage to crack the surface of the elusive ‘music industry.’ Some have ‘look’ but lack an original sound, while others have boundless talent, but fail to make it due to shortcomings in such things as promotion or stage presence. It’s therefore rare for a new band to not only make it, but to actually be good. This is where We Are The City comes in. With a distinctive progressive-rock-meets-pop sensibility, WATC is a band you need to listen to.
Winning the prestigious radio 102.7 PEAK Performance contest back in 2010 for their debut album In A Quiet World (and walking away with a hefty grand prize of $150,000) the Kelowna, B.C.-based band was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. However, when guitarist David Menzel left the band in the summer of 2010, things went a bit sour…well sort of. Abandoning the songs they had originally planned to record, Cayne McKenzie (vocals/keyboards) and Andrew Huculiak (drums) brought interim guitarist Blake Enemark to record their follow-up EP High School – a success in its own right which the Vancouver Sun called ‘a mini masterwork.’ The band then toured Canada four times and begun playing shows in the U.S, opening for such acts as Mother Mother, Sam Roberts, Tokyo Police Club, and Braids. Yet despite the success of High School, a void still needed to be filled.
“We are close to calling it,” explains McKenzie, “at the point when our guitarist, David, began to phase himself out, we came up with a different project with no self imposed pressure. In my opinion, the High School side project kept fuel in our tanks.”
After Menzel returned, the band picked up where they left off. Secluding themselves in a tear-down home they named the ‘Magic House,’ the band began fleshing out the new tracks for Violent – their latest sophomore effort released on Hidden Pony Records earlier this year. When asked what made the Magic House so special, they band responded:
“It was the perfect place to write Violent. We knew we would be the last people to ever use that house, so we could do whatever we wanted. Writing in new places always comes with unique feelings and experiences and we liked the thought that we wouldn’t ever get to re create the writing of violent once the house was destroyed.”
Their most mature effort to date, Violent (which is produced once again by Tom Dobrzanski (Said The Whale, the Zolas, Hey Ocean!)) is a beautifully nuanced piece of work that speaks volumes of the band’s skill and artistic sensibility. When asked about the inspiration behind the album, McKenzie and Menzel stated that it inspired by time and transition– there wasn’t a collective vision of how to create the album. They wanted to end up with something they felt was worth waiting years for.
Accompanying the album will be a feature-length film, written by We Are the City and filmed by Vancouver’s Amazing Factory Productions, a company they’ve worked with before and the killer 26-minute long video series for their High School EP. This time around, the film will be shot in Norway – written in English and then translated into Norweigan. When I asked them why they chose Norway out of all places, they explained it stood out, and is arguably more supernatural than BC.
The band is currently releasing one video every week as part of their live video project PXTK (which you can download entirely for free here) – a series which is filmed almost entirely on surveillance cameras, capturing limited angles of your performance instead of giving the viewer that standard, live, ‘360 view.’ In other words, the boys are keeping it experimental and it’s beyond commendable.
In our interview with Shad from his last visit to the Corona Theatre, he cited We Are The City as the act to watch. When asked the same question WATC responded with “a nice and very talented girl by the name Hannah Epperson,” and as for their favourite album of the year, so far, they collectively decided Royal Canoe’s Today We’re Believers – a great album in its own right. On a final note, when asked what was next for the band (‘Another album? A World Tour?), they answered humbly with
“Hopefully both! We’re excited to work on the next album and also excited to see what other projects and tours come our way.”
* We Are The City perform tonight alongside Shad at The Corona Theatre!