Local rockers Valley claim Battle of the Bands title
Tight playing and strong showmanship propel band to victory
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 04, 2012 06:00 am
Local rock band Valley employed punchy songs and an electric energy to win the Battle of the Bands competition during St. Albert’s Canada Day celebrations.
In a fierce competition between five local bands, the tight fivesome led the pack, using its trademark showmanship to create a fun vibe. All the right elements fused together naturally.
“You nailed it. I’m not much of an expert on music, but even I could tell the difference between yourselves and the other four bands,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse, one of the contest judges, while speaking to the band after the battle.
Right from the first drumbeats, vocalist Nick Stehelin jumped into a Mick Jagger strut, drawing screams from his fans. And after singing a couple of verses of Fields, the spontaneous rocker grabbed a Canadian flag, jumped into the audience and ran around the St. Albert Place plaza waving it while the band riffed on stage. From that moment on, the audience was hooked.
“We felt fantastic. We had really good competitors. It was a confidence booster that we are a good band,” said drummer Mitch Lohmeier. “It gave us the mentality that people will come out and listen to us play. And it was cool to hear strangers come up to us afterwards and say they voted for us.”
The fivesome, still on an adrenalin rush from their 15-minute performance, were surprised when host Terry Evans of K-97 announced the winner.
“We’ve never gotten recognition for what we did. We never had much support. But this shows we’ve matured as a band,” said guitarist Adam Sobkowicz. “We now incorporate different styles in a song. Different members in the band have different interests and we build on it. It’s getting easier and easier to write songs.”
The other two members helping to create the band’s lush sound are Doug Parth on bass and Jake Kazakoff on guitar.
The rockers are graduates of St. Albert Catholic High and Paul Kane and are now in post-secondary. However, Valley was started when Lohmeier and Stehelin were in Grade 9, and it has gone through a revolving door of lineup changes.
Lohmeier grimaces and cringes remembering the first gig Valley played in 2009 at the V.J. Maloney graduation.
“We weren’t good. We stood there 10 minutes tuning our guitars and everyone was wondering why we weren’t playing.”
And Stehelin remembers trying to sing the high notes in Don’t Stop Believing and being unable to deliver.
But physical maturity and the later additions of Kazakoff and Parth are anchoring their personal chemistry.
If there is one thing they stay away from it’s writing love songs.
“We want to write about something meaningful to us and other people,” says Stehelin adding that The Arkells and The Strokes inspire their song-writing.
As Battle of the Bands winner, Valley receives a $500 credit at Innovations Music that they may use for future equipment rentals.
The other four bands competing were El Salvador Stones, Chasing Pulse, DreamBed and Absolute Motion.