Eclectic, new wave and alternative are all words to describe the music of Birds of Bellwoods, who will be opening for the Rock the Rink tour at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Oct. 6.
The Ontario band has quickly risen to the top of the charts in the last few years with their high-energy music and engaging performances, going on to tour with bands like the Arkells and Wintersleep. While their sound can be described as folk, their music often features elements of Indie, country and even punk rock.
Guitarist Chris Blades said they were thrilled that the organizers of Rock the Rink approached their label and chose them out of a list of other bands to tour with the some of the world’s best figure skaters. He added this will be the longest tour they’ve performed to date, which means they’ve had to step up their rehearsals.
“This is kind of a big upgrade for us, we mostly have played smaller venues, and some medium-sized ones like the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, but arenas are going to be a bit of a game changer for us. So we’ve been doing a lot of things to prepare for that,” said Blades. “We’ll be playing on a stage in the middle of the ice. And we’ve never done a theatre-in-the-round show before.”
Blades said while this success the band is seeing is somewhat surprising, it’s not without a lot of effort on their part. He said they all made sacrifices, choosing to save the money from their gigs rather than pay themselves so they could afford to record their album, Victoria.
“But at the same time, I can’t even believe that we get to live this life. Back in university this is all I wanted, to move to a big city like Montreal or Toronto and be in a band and make it as a musician,” said Blades. “So everyday I am shocked that I get to live out my dream. I try to never lose sight of that.”
All of the members have a background in the arts, with Adrian Morningstar and Stephen Joffe graduating from the National Theatre School, Kintaro Akiyama a music student from McGill University and Blades himself a professional actor. Each of them bring their own influence, style and musical taste to the band when they are composing music, and Blades noted that while they may have started as a folk ensemble, “no one seems mad” that they’ve transitioned.
“It’s hard to guage what people like, but generally the response we get is great and they like our ecletic sound. We’re always just trying out what we’re into, and that can change from time to time since we’ve been together for six years,” said Blades. “No one has ever given us a hard time for not being a folk band anymore, which is a classic example of acoustic bands going electric.”
Blades said their new single, Easy, is now the most-downloaded Indie song by radio stations in Canada and charted number six overall. He said Canadian producer and mixer Howie Beck worked with them to perfect the song, which went through many forms before it was ready to be released.
“We went through a lot of different versions of that song as we tested it out on audiences, and now its reached its final form so we’re all very happy with how it’s going,” said Blade.
This tour will give the band some downtime, allowing the Birds of Bellwoods to potentially work on some new pieces, but Blades said they have quite a few songs up their sleeve that have yet to be released. He said while we may not see new music from them for the rest of this year, they have big plans for the future.
The Rock the Rink tour stops in Penticton on Oct. 6, and tickets are available at www.soec.ca.
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