Interview: Spencer Soloduka & the Tearaways

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:


Liner Notes: Friday, December 26th (The Year-End Edition!)

The streak of consecutive Sunday posts ends at three.  It was a good run.
So we’re almost done with 2014, and it’s been a year.  With this “Liner Notes”, it’s all about reflecting and looking ahead to next year.

Absolute Punk asked its members what their favourite albums of 2014 were.  They’ll be posting their industry/artist survey on January 5th, too.  Also at AP, “2014, A Year In Music” featuring a 90-song playlist of choice tracks and no repeat artists.

Are Thrice ending their hiatus in 2015?  They’ve been the “Image of The Invisible” for a few years now.  Ahhh!

NME features the most legally downloaded artists on BitTorrent this year.  Thom Yorke tops the list with his second solo album Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes.

Alternative Press has a few interesting lists, including “The 18 Best Sing Along Moments of 2014” (which nails including the pre-chorus of  “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers), “The 14 Best Comeback Songs of the Year” and “10 Major Music Controversies of 2014”.

Chart Attack has their many year-end lists on one handy page!  God bless them.  The best Canadian songs, best late night TV performances, album that defined the year and more.  Good readin’.

PropertyOfZack is talkin’ vinyl, and how sales of it went up 49% in 2014.  Oh, and their own year-end stuff.

Loudwire counts down their “20 Best Rock Songs of 2014”, which include offerings from Bring Me The Horizon, Against Me!, A Day To Remember and Royal Blood, who had a massive year.

You think the Wall Street Journal isn’t gonna get in on this?  That’s happening, and they include Lost In The Dream by The War On Drugs in their “best of 2014”.

Finally, Fuse has a bunch of lists including “The 40 Best Albums of 2014”“The 28 Best Album Covers of 2014” and “20 of Our Favorite Lyrics of 2014”, all featuring many alternative artists.

From these lists alone, it seems no matter what type of music outlet is covering things bands like Bleachers and Against Me! are hugely popular and respected.  There are lots of artists that we cover on TPS that are basically in our world, the alt-rock/punk/indie rock/hardcore/etc crew, but you get artists like the aforementioned who transcend and get fans in other worlds.  It’s a great thing, and as someone who likes several different non-rock genres – I just don’t blog about them! – I’m down with that kind of cross-promotion.   No doubt 2015 will be another year of musical growth and awesomeness.

Musicians Who Look Like Other Celebrities (Part 1?)

Three consecutive Sunday posts?  It’s like NFL football!
The other day I was watching one of my favourite movies, Serendipity, as it’s one of the countless Christmas-themed movies on TV during the holidays.  Besides starring one of the most beautiful women alive, Kate Beckinsale, it stars John Cusack.  I realized something while watching the movie, so now in the vein of past posts “People Who Look Like Rockstars (Part 1?)” and “Musicians Who Look Like Other Musicians (Part 1?)” comes the following award-winning comparison.

First, take aforementioned actor John Cusack:

I totally think he looks like the very funny and talented frontman of Sydney, Nova Scotia band Slowcoaster, Steven MacDougall:

C’mon now.  Oh, and how about another feature of my pal Don Leblanc:

Don, who lives in Moncton, New Brunswick has been featured on this blog multiple times now and I’ve never told him.  True story.  Let’s just surprise him one day!

So…lookalikes, right?  Freaky!!!1!1

Track Listing: Christmas Songs

A post on a Sunday, then no post until the next Sunday?  It’s like church!

So we’re right all up in the Christmas season now, and we need some Christmas music that isn’t your standard Bing Crosby – not that there’s anything wrong with that – and the like.  New and old, let’s get some alternative stuff going:

New Found Glory“Snow”

New Found Glory just released this really nice acoustic track a few days ago, which reminisces about loved ones and talks about how Christmas always makes you feel good.  The video features clips from old movies and such, which is a solid addition to a beautiful song.

Sirens & Sailors – “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”

Another new jam for the holidays, Sirens & Sailors offer up a metalcore take on this classic.  It’s actually funny, and I can picture it playing while the Grinch goes about his business.

blink-182 – “Boxing Day”

It’s not a happy song, since it talks about getting dumped the day after Christmas, but it’s still good and that’s what counts….right?

Relient K – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

Relient K honour the original sound of this Christmas carol, perhaps just because they like it but maybe because so many carols are rooted in religion, which Relient K are too.  I’m just speculating, maybe that had nothing to do with why they didn’t mess with it.  Either way, it’s pretty.

The Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)

A simple, straightforward message from a simple, straightforward band (and that’s not meant as an insult).  Wait until Boxing Day to fight…just don’t break up, right Blink?

The Killers and Jimmy Kimmel – “Joel, the Lump of Coal”

The Killers do an annual Christmas song in support of the RED campaign, which battles against AIDS.  This year, they collaborated with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who I’m pretty sure voices Santa in the song.  It’s actually kind of a sad tune, talking about how no one wants the coal.  But, the coal does turn into a diamond in the end, so that’s a nice thought.  The video starts with the band and Kimmel in the studio brainstorming, which is pretty funny too.

You could put together a pretty solid playlist of Christmas rock songs, because everyone loves Christmas and since most carols are in the public domain, covering them doesn’t have any red tape.  I for one would love to hear stuff like this as I walk through the mall.  Although we’ll chat before Christmas no doubt, Merry Christmas to you and yours, and if you celebrate another holiday, merry that to you too.

Dear Guest Poster, Count You In

One thing I’ve wanted to eventually do with The Perfect Scene was feature entries from others.  Right now, this blog is me: I created it, and am the only writer.  I try to update it at least twice a week, but the reality is I do this on my own time, for free.  I don’t have the time, resources or energy to rival sites like PropertyOfZack, Dying Scene and others you see in the links on the right side of the page.  Having others contribute provides even more content – does that make me sound lazy? – but it also gives you some fresh perspective, which admittedly is nice when you’ve read one voice for almost a year and over 100 posts.

So, here’s what I’m thinking: I would love to have you write a guest post if you’re interested.  Whether you’re a musician who wants to profile your music, a fan who wants to talk about something industry-related – even in response to something previously posted – or a “business” end type who wants to shed light on industry dos and don’ts, you’re welcome to submit something.  You know that TPS is pretty open season: as long as it relates to alternative music we’ll talk about it, even beyond the aforementioned.

Now, how to do it: what I’m looking for is an e-mail with your post idea.  If it works, you can then write the post up (including any pictures, etc you want used) and fire it over via e-mail.  There are two reasons for doing it like that: 1) the login info for TPS is connected to a personal Google account and I’m not giving that out, and 2) I’ll ultimately approve all posts to ensure they fit the TPS brand, and you’re not saying anything too inappropriate.  You’d obviously get credited for your entry, don’t worry about that.

What do you think?  I’m still gonna post as often as possible of course, but I’ve always thought it would be neat to give a platform to others too.  If you ever want to do a guest post, shoot me an e-mail.  It’s our perfect scene, after all. 🙂

Liner Notes: Tuesday, December 2nd (The Industry Edition!)

We always look at what artists and labels are up to with “Liner Notes”, but barely ever what the “business” side of the industry is saying – the PR/promotion/consulting types.  I guess it’s all business, but you know what I mean.  There have been a few interesting recent articles, so let’s see what the hell is up!

Los Angeles-based surveillance site MusicClout passes along that an upcoming comedy movie is looking for songs.  Video games, too.

New York City-based Music Consultant has a chat with Jim Olsen of Massachussetts label Signature Sounds about basically how to be a good full-time musician.

Toronto’s Eric Alper has a cool list that shows Uber and Spotify teaming up to see who’s listening to what, where while traveling in an Uber vehicle.  Sydney, Australia is digging “Medicine” by The 1975, for instance – until the band pulls their music from Spotify LOLOLOL.  Oh I’m sure they won’t.

The Halifax, Nova Scotia-based crowdfunding, etc crew at IOU Music pass along a cool article discussing free vs. paid called “The First Law of Internet Physics”.

Finally, we regularly get good info from Absolute Punk, but this time they’re asking industry people for their favourite albums of 2014 for their year-end list.  So, if you’re in the industry, 1) this TPS post was for you baby and 2) tell AP what you’re diggin’.

All those sources and beyond have lots of good info to peruse, whether you’re a musician or just a fan of the industry and how it works.  Alper is my fave out of the aforementioned for the random pictures and facts he gives beyond advice.  Oh, although I think you have to be taking/have taken a course to get full access, learning about music from Boston’s Berklee College of Music is the bomb (I took the Online Music Marketing course myself via their online school).  You can check out that school’s blogs for neat stuff, for instance.  So…there’s all that!