Interview with singer Andrew Elter.

How did you all meet and when did the band start?
A long time ago Robbie and I had played in an awful band called What Counts and, after that band went belly-up, we decided to start a new project. Josh, being a close friend and a notably awesome drummer, jumped on it. He played in a tech-metal band called Paris On A Good Day with Ryan and suggested we invite him to jam. He was a perfect fit from the start, as a cool dude and as a musician. Nick recorded the EP that we released online and, in that process, we discovered that he was cool as hell and that we wanted a second guitar player. Since then we’ve been a five piece. Nick also recorded our recently released full-length and we like to think it turned out pretty well. We’ve been a band for a little over five years and it has been something we’ve been heavily committed to from the beginning.

Have you found a lot of support from the local scene?
We used to feel somewhat ostracized by the Edmonton scene. People didn’t seem very interested in what we were doing and when we would play Calgary kids would go bananas. At the end of the set, however, people in Edmonton would always almost line up to say nice things and that felt really good. In the past couple of months we’ve seen an awesome response, though. People genuinely seem stoked on what we’re doing and that actually makes doing this worthwhile. Maybe the scene and, thus, the audience has grown in size or maybe we just suck less but, either way, more kids are watching, having fun and, I hope, leaving entertained. When we left Edmonton the day after our release show we had enough money to get us a pretty great distance. I don’t know if it’s fair to measure our appeal in dollars but nothing says your city supports you like a release show that keeps you afloat for several dates. Having seen the rest of Canada and a lot of The States, I can honestly say this scene is a committed and a hard working one and we’re grateful to have this community.

Has it been easy getting started? Booking shows and all that?
As a band, totally. We mesh really well, everyone is open to experimenting with sounds, we all understand that it’s a financial and a time commitment and we love to do it. As far as touring and booking shows is concerned, Ryan does most of the heavy lifting and, especially with big tours, it makes him want to pull his hair out. It’s not easy; it’s super stressful and making the kind of connections you can rely on is a challenge in and of itself. We all do what we can to make it work, but at the end of the day a shady promoter will stiff you and lousy turnouts are sometimes a reality. We are a pretty DIY band, though. We don’t have a label of any kind so all of our merch and pressings have been on our dime and we book almost all of our own shows. We hopped on this recent summer tour with Castaway and those dudes did a phenomenal job with booking. We’re definitely interested in getting some label support but it also has to be said that, though this stuff can be hard work, when it pays off we really feel like we’ve accomplished something.

386493_348239658535757_76943688_nWhat’s the dynamic of the band? Do you all collaborate on songwriting?
Our songs, I think, are fairly musically driven with something to say. We write what we think sounds good and play it until we don’t remember why we liked it in the first place. We write songs about subjects that matter to us. Women’s rights, wage slavery, separation of church and state. Y’know, that sort of stuff pissed-off young people are on about. We tend to fall in to a groove where the songs are sort of roughly sketched out by Josh and Robbie. They kind of build the framework and then we collaborate after the fact, if need be, to round out the edges. We’ve tried a lot of methods but this one seems to happen organically and if you leave Robbie and Josh in a room together for long enough you’ll end up with more material than you know what to do with. I do almost all of the lyric writing. I usually submit them to the band and, as long as everyone agrees on the content and the way it’s written, it gets worked into the music. This has been the format for pretty much every song we’ve ever written.

Do you have any local faves?
There are a ton of bands we love in this city. Demise, Secret Rivals, Spaewife, Half Dalmation, Failgiver, Book Of Caverns and Time’s Tide are all gnarly bands that we demand you listen to, but the list is really too long and there’s a ton we’re leaving out. This city has such an insane pool of talent and hardworking people that we can’t say enough good things. Joel Frost, Mattie Cuvilier and John Kennedy are honestly some of the most reliable, committed and resourceful promoters we’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with and I think the quality of the shows and the way this scene is growing is reflected in that statement. As far as favourite venues are concerned, we are down to play anywhere that we won’t blow a breaker, and even those places will do. If we have to play bars we prefer to play the Pawn Shop or Filthy McNasty’s. Otherwise we’ll play mostly hall shows or, thanks to Joel, The Armoury just off of Whyte Avenue, right across the street from Steel Wheels. We encourage everyone to support The Armoury as all of the excess earnings are donated to the YESS organization. Grab some pizza from Steel Wheels while you’re at it.

Do you have any upcoming news you want to mention?
We’re writing another record but the nature of what we’re doing has to remain a secret. It’s sure to surprise people. We are looking at planning another major tour next year but we’re still weighing the options as to when and where. I want to go to Japan but I need to cool it. We’re all victims of our careers so finding time to do this big stuff can be quite the task, but it’s an addiction and we’re not planning on quitting.

Ringleader are playing the Up + Downtown festival on Saturday October 11.

Author

Brnesh Berhe

Brnesh is from Edmonton, Alberta and started Marker in 2013. She spends her "free time" as a graphic designer and freelance writer, and has worked with/contributed to Vancouver Weekly, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights. Challenge her to a game of Seinfeld trivia and you will surely regret it.

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