By Keith Sharp
Friday night at Calgary’s Marquee Beer Market and a packed crowd has assembled to participate in what promises to be a raucious concert by the pride of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, The Trews.
Opening act is Bleeker, a relatively unknown act, originating from Orillia Ontario. They boast a new album titled `Erase You’, are signed to Allen Kovac’s L.A based Five Seven Music which is distributed in Canada by Sony Music. Not bad creditials for a foursome in their mid-twenties whose core have been together for 13 years.
The crowd is still building when Bleeker hits the stage but the band’s high energy performance, fueled by the lead vocal antics of Taylor Perkins, whom Music Express reviewer Keith McTaggart likened to a young Rod Stewart, instantly attracts attention and their brief but fiery set is greeted with raptuous applause.
It’s a scenario group members Perkins, guitarist/younger brother Cole, bassist Mike Vandyk and touring drummer Chris Dimas face virtually every time they step on stage.
“We just toured England and Germany and no one had a clue who we were,” explained Perkins as the band travelled from performing dates with The Struts in California to join up with the Trews for a national tour that will take them through to December 17th at the Halifax Marquee Club. “The most common comment we received was `Hey, I had know idea who you guys are but I really enjoyed it.”
Originally called Bleeker Ridge when Perkins brothers (Taylor aged 14, Cole aged 12) from Bleeker Street in Orillia met two other young brothers Dan and Dustin Steinke, who lived at Ridge Avenue, met at a local music store in 2003, thus the band name. The quartet quickly matured as a group, exhibiting performance skills and maturity well beyond their age.
Joe Kreska, an A&R rep from Universal was instantly impressed but felt they needed a few years to define their direction. Undeterred, the band recorded two independent EP’s ; `Undertow’ in 2004 and “Rain” in 2007 before Dutch-based Roadrunner Records stepped in to scoop up the band to record their first full album titled “Small Town Band ” in 2010.
Bleeker Ridge were sent on the road opening for Airbourne but Perkins claims their first studio effort was pretty unsophisticated. “We were kind of rebellious on that first record, it was pretty raw and we didn’t really care if people liked it or not.”
Roadrunner,( which was going through it’s own problems with new owner Warner Music,)didn’t get behind the record and work it as much as Bleeker Ridge would have liked but they did win over the support of the label’s Canadian rep, Rose Slanic. She assisted them when the band left Roadrunner to release their own independent second album; titled “Four” in 2013 and was instrumetal in directing them to U.S record mogul, Allen Kovac who was just starting up a new U.S indie label.
Along the way, Bleeker Ridge became simply Bleeker when Dustin Steinke left the band to play drums for Nikki Sixx’s Sixx A.M band in 2014 and brother Dan also dropped out leaving the Perkins’ brothers with bassist Mike Vandyk (who joined after the release of their Small Town Band release) and travelling dummer Chris Dumas.
Signing with Kovac’s Seven Eleven Records is a god sent for Bleeker. Aside from joining a roster that features a list of hot new bands including Sublime, Dirty Hands, Rome and Winnipeg’s Attica Riots, Bleeker has found themselves constantly on the road in support of their latest release; `Erase You”
“We are kind of like chameleons when we play with these bands,” announced Perkins. “Sublime are kind of like a reggae/ska band and some of the others are more heavy metal so we have to heavy up our sound to play with them. But every night is an interesting challenge for us.”
Bleeker started the year touring Canada with Attica Riots, found themselves hitting U.S ampitheatres on a bill with Dirty Hands, Sublime and Rome and then, between finding time to record their latest album, squeezed in a U.K tour which earned rave reviews from British and German rock critics.
As for their latest release, Perkins is aware that the band’s musica approach has matured greatly since that Roadrunner debut. “There’s something about people singing your songs that makes you want to make a special effort to make your material more commercially accessible,” Perkins notes. “Splitting with Dustin and Dan allowed Cole and I to have a more defined direction and obviously we have now been exposed to a lot more musical influences.”
With “Highway”, a solid blues rock number written by Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard, launching the album, Perkins feels `Erase You’ reflects’s the band’s interest in a number of musical directions. There’s a mixture of classic rock tracks like “Free” and “Getting Out” with more melodic numbers like “I’m Not Laughing Now” and the band’s “Radio Radio” salute nicely balancing the record’s 11 tracks.
“It’s a little experimental, we are still a bit all over the place,” laughs Perkins when asked to define the album’s direction. “And I think this is where the band is now. We are developing and we know we have to keep changing. We may lose some fans along the way but we do know we are winning over a lot of new fans as we do develop.”