Two Quebec rockers found a way to harmonize punk, screamo and grunge, expanding their repertoire in an East Vancouver garage.
The duo is now known as the Karate Kids, with Daniel Larusso leading on guitar and vocals and C’est Bastien beating on the drums. Both are from La Sarre, a rural town in eastern Quebec with a population under 8,000. They’ve been playing together since 2006, and eventually packed their instruments and headed for Vancouver. While living rent-free out of a friend’s east-end garage during January of this year, Larusso and Bastien had the opportunity to write and refine their music.
“Then we basically began playing shows the next month,” Larusso said.
The Karate Kids have scheduled an eight-date tour beginning later this month, including a show at the Elite Restaurant in Penticton. And while they’ve travelled around Canada to play anywhere they could find — including two sweeps through the Okanagan – this month is their first official tour.
After finding their bearings in East Vancouver, and then dabbling in Edmonton and Montreal, Larusso said the duo decided to relocate to Penticton for its warm weather and creative culture.
“We’re one of the few French screamo bands that are touring in English-speaking parts of the country,” he said, adding that the lyrics are in French because “if we would write in English, people would know it’s not our first language.”
The lyrics take on heavy topics, which address the challenges in the community where they grew up – a town Larusso said was a hard, rough place to live.
“We try actually to channel our own anger into our misunderstanding of suicide; the destructive behaviour of substance abuse,” he said. “We try to take a positive point of view instead of only being frustrated.”
The lyrics of their work may not be familiar to an English-speaking crowd, but their sound captures popular styles from the past 25 years. Audiences will be able to bask in the nostalgia of grunge from the ‘90s, screamo from the early 2000s, and the timeless rebellion of punk.
“We try make every gig something people will remember,” Larusso said. “People will dance and cheer.”
Larusso said his vocals alternate between clean deliveries and screaming, which gives him a wide range to explore.
“There’s not a clean difference between the two. It’s more feeling vocals,” he said. “It goes with the mood of the moment. That’s basically it. That’s hardcore.”
He said when the Karate Kids play at venues that aren’t used to heavy instruments and screaming, they supply earplugs for the audience.
“And then everybody has fun.”
Their fun attitudes come through in the band’s name, which Larusso said started out as a joke.
“Every idea we had, there were so many issues and argument. So Karate Kids was just like the first name we got on the draft.”
They expected the name to only be temporary, but it had a lasting effect. Their performances and merchandise are laden with references to the 1984 movie.
The Karate Kids will be playing all of the songs that were written in the East Vancouver garage during each stop along their Okanagan tour. They’ll spend another three weeks rehearsing at the Cannery Trade Centre, and then lay it down on an album at the Classic Guitars studio in Penticton.
Opening for the Karate Kids throughout the tour will be the Exits. In Penticton, they’ll be playing at the Elite Restaurant on July 22, starting at 9 p.m., and admission is by donation. To download their music, visit www.karatekidsRNHC.bandcamp.com.