I65 revs up Canadian tour at The Pawnshop
Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 06:00 am
You can sell a double platinum album. You’re adored by screaming fans. Your band is on the national front and you’re nominated for two Juno Awards.
Then a chunk of your fan base ditches you and the label isn’t far behind. It’s a common story and most bands simply do a slow fade.
Stereos, the pop darling of the 2010 music industry, suffered band collapse syndrome in March 2012. Taking the lessons they’ve learned from a bittersweet rollercoaster ride, three former members Daniel Johnson (bass), Robb Chalifoux (guitar) and St. Albert’s Pat Kordyback (lead vocals), have reinvented themselves as I65.
Now on a month long cross-country Canadian tour with Zerbin, they stop at The Pawnshop on Thursday, Nov. 7.
Once more their star is ascending. The single Another Summer is gaining traction on radio, MuchMusic has put their video in heavy rotation and they’re planning a release for a 10-track with 604 Records, a label co-founded by Chad Kroeger and Jonathan Simkin.
The music is still pop-oriented; interwoven with a stronger rock vibe and meatier lyrics that Kordyback likens to Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U-2.
“Our new album is basically like a diary entry. It’s not a happy album. It was written from the perspective of every high and low Dan, Robb and I went through in the past years. We lost significant relationships. We thought we were going somewhere and didn’t. In this album we’re not trying to impress anyone. In fact, we’re our own toughest critics,” says Kordyback.
The word “impress” is a descriptive word to trace the Stereos era. The five-piece won the nationally televised Disband battle of the bands in 2008 winning a contract with Universal Music.
A year later MuchMusic premiered a video and they performed their biggest catchy single Summer Girl. Living the road life, they travelled in luxury tour buses and opened for big names.
To the outside world, Stereos was living the dream. But behind the flashy stage lights, things were falling apart. Kordyback humbly admits to letting ego interfere with his better judgment and living every rock star cliché.
“Before a set, I wasn’t thinking about the fans and the music. I was thinking about where I’d go party after the concert.”
An over-consumption of alcohol took a toll on his voice and he lost it multiple times.
“Alcohol dries the voice out. Combine that with being in a club where you’re shouting and singing concerts, and technique goes out the window.”
In Kordyback’s words the band had become “dysfunctional” and at one point the members were no longer friends. Johnson and Chalifoux, long-time amigos since their early days in Edmonton as Stand By Me, persuaded Kordyback to join them for a road trip to Nashville.
Arriving during the CMA Music Festival at peak season with every hotel booked, they were able to find accommodation at the Stadium Inn, a notorious drug haven. But they didn’t care.
“We drank a lot of beer, attended concerts and connected as friends. And we realized Stereos couldn’t continue to be what it was if we were the people we wanted to be.”
The upshot was Miles Holmswood and Aaron Verdonk left the band.
“We tried to continue as Stereos but we were writing different material and our sound was completely different. It became very obvious it was a new book, not just a new chapter in our life.”
The threesome renamed the band I65 after Interstate 65, the highway that leads to Nashville.
In looking back, Kordyback says, “Stereos feels like we went to college and now we have to focus on the real world. We saw everything that was good and everything that was bad. What we learned is that we have to focus on making music.”
Although the partnership with Universal fell through, it could be considered a rite of passage – one that provided incredible insights and contacts.
Kordyback was sitting in his car the other day and the I65 single Another Summer started to play.
“It hit me how many bands struggle and how unbelievably lucky we are.”