As I’ve mentioned before, when I listen to classic music, my genre of choice is Motown. I can get down with the old school soul/R&B vibes – yeah that wording happened – so when a current band puts a modern, indie spin on that sound it’s gonna be pretty enjoyable. Enter Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island’s Spencer Soloduka & the Tearaways. A seven-piece that features Spencer Soloduka (vocals/keyboards), Jordy Jorbit (drums/cymbals), Mike Peters (guitar/backing vocals), Simon Joseph (bass), Josh Underhay (trumpet), Nikki Waite (alto sax) and Emma Turner (backing vocals), they’ve spent the past year making music made to feel and for the dance floor. Frontman Soloduka took a few minutes out of his holiday schedule to chat with TPS.
Gotta ask about the name origin: did the band start as a solo project, or did the name just have too good a ring to not use?
The band came together in a very organic way. I began writing maybe 4 or 5 years ago. I was living in Halifax at the time. I would attend lots of open mics and jams and I played the occasional gig. When I returned home to PEI, it wasn’t long before I met Jordy and Michael and we started performing my original material as a trio. The band slowly grew from there over the year, we added Simon on bass, Josh on trumpet, Lachy on sax and congas, and Emma singing backing vocals. Eventually Nikki came in on sax when Lachy (ed. note: former saxophonist Najarro) moved to Peterborough.
Early on it was very clear it was soul music and had to be treated as such, the harmonies, the call and response, the horns, it was always there, in the music. Fortunately I’ve got some of the best players on the island behind me, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished already and I’m excited for the future.
We took some time to settle on the name. It was always such a personal thing, the project and the music, but we wanted something to represent the group, what we all shared. Jordy came up with it, from a lyric of his friend Pete ‘Baba Kush’ Morrison: “All the tearaways on Market street have reached their ports of call.” It’s a song about Halifax and the community’s history as a naval town. A tearaway is British slang for some who behaves recklessly, like a misfit or something. It doesn’t really fit, but it had that nice ring to it, like you say.
Your self-titled debut EP oozes classic vibes, from the psychedelic feel of “Can’t Fall In Love Anymore” to your obvious love of Motown. Who influences you guys – classic or modern?
A lot of the obvious influences are classic R&B and soul; Ray Charles, Sly Stone, Joe Cocker, and Al Green, to name a few. A lot of artists we’ve covered in the past. Rather than to try and imitate these one-of-a-kinds acts, we instead hope to make modern music in the same spirit. A spirit of deeply personal expression, a spirit of diversity, of pushing the limits of creativity. We want to bring people together from all walks of life to celebrate a common love of music, and to love one another.
We’re, of course, influenced by moderns R&B and soul groups as well, such as Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, D’Angelo, the Black Keys. Not to mention there’s lots of talent here at home not to be overlooked: Jill Barber, Erin Costelo, and Chris Kirby for example.
Finally, each player has their own unique experience and influences which they bring to the group. Josh, for example, studied classical music at UPEI and plays with the accomplished salsa fusion band Count and the Cuban Cocktail. And Simon’s played bass with a number of successful PEI projects, including Mindwaves, an established progressive/experimental rock band.
What’s the coolest thing the band experienced in your first year of existence?
We’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to play several summer festivals this past year, including Caledonia Days and the Fiddlehead Social here on PEI, as well as Chappyshat IV in Amherst. We have the most fun when we’re performing, and festival crowds have always been less inhibited and more receptive to the music and the energy on stage.
Also, recording our EP was a first for myself and a great experience. Dan Currie was great to work with and we all learned a great deal from it.
Any seven-piece band has a lot going on, in your case a prominent horn section and vocal harmonies. What do you think the defining feature of Spencer Soloduka & the Tearaways is?
Our defining feature, I’d have to say, is that everyone in the band is given the opportunity to shine. It is a big band, yes, but we play around each other, and in service to the music.
We have a lot of fun with layering and dynamics. It’s not static. Different emotions and personalities from the songs are brought out and accentuated by each player. With an wide array instruments to work with, the possibilities for creating a unique and personal sound are virtually limitless.
Is there a full-length album in the works? What’s on tap for 2015?
2015 will be a big year for us. We just released our debut recording and we’re keen to get out and play, entertaining people around the region and getting the good word out. Expect regional dates soon, including PEI, NB, and NS. We may even be in St. John’s this April for ECMW.
Our next milestone is a video for one of the songs from our EP. We’ll begin production in the January. And of course, the focus of the band has always been original music. We’ve been busy working on the release of the EP and honing our stage show, so it will be nice to get back to the creative side of things; reinforcing and implementing some of the things we’ve learned from playing together. We do plan to record a full length album in the future, but no concrete plans to do so have been made.
Spencer Soloduka & the Tearaways online: