By Keith Sharp
Being compared to Janis Jopin is a flattering complement that became second nature to No Sinner lead vocalist Colleen Rennison even though she was born in 1987; some 17 years after Joplin had succumbed to a drug overdose. Yet what continued to bother Rennison was this business of key musicians dying once they reached the age of 27, the same age that Joplin and the likes of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and even Amy Winehouse had all passed away.
“Hitting 28 was a big one for me,” admitted Rennison, calling in from Los Angeles where she is currently strolling along the Venice Beach boardwalk before heading east to launch her band’s second album, `Old Habits Die Hard’ at the current Canadian Music Week Conference in Toronto.
“So to celebrate my 28th birthday, I pointed my motorcycle south from Vancouver to Los Angeles and decided to tempt my fate to the wind. I arrived in L.A on my 28th birthday and instantly thought to myself, `So now what are you going to do?”.
By this point, Rennison’s fate had pretty well been decided. Growing up as a child actress who shared the silver screen with the likes of Ray Liotta, Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer in major movies and television productions such as Stargate SG, Poltergeist, The Highlander, The Legacy and The Unforgettable, this Vancouver native’s first love has always been performing as a lead vocalist in a rock band.
Sneaking out of her home to attend open mic sessions at Vancouver nightspots like Gastown’s Guilt And Company, the then 15 year old vocal fireball found herself performing with musicians who were much older. Rennison eventually fell in with guitarist Eric Campbell and drummer Ian Browne in 2012 and with creative stimulation from another associate, Parker Bossley, the now named No Sinner band recorded a six-song EP titled `Boo Hoo Hoo’ on Bossley’s First Love Records indie label.
This debut effort was so well received that Dutch-based Provogue Records picked up the release in 2014, expanded the disc by three songs to create a full nine-song recording and then released it throughout Europe and North America.
“Even though I grew up listening to Gwen Stefani and Whitney Houston, I’ve always had a love for classic rock music,” noted Rennison. “Bands like Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Humble Pie were before my time but I can still relate to them. I just love the whole idea of the rock and roll lifestyle, that’s all I have ever wanted to do.
Winning fans globally with her ballsy blues/rock vocal style and a live band consisting of Campbell (guitar), Browne (drums) and new bassist Brandon Clarke, No Sinner made inroads throughout the UK, Europe and The States where they performed at the Austin,Texas South by Southwest Music conference although Rennison wasn’t totally enamoured by that experience.
“SXSW is so huge, it’s so corporate,” she allowed. “There are so many people and so many bands playing. There are maybe 10 bands everyone wants to see, and then there’s the rest. You can’t get anything to eat, you can’t even find a washroom, it’s like a pop culture war zone.”
Much more agreeable to the band is their European connection via Provogue Records. “Through them, we have been able to play in the U.K and the fan response was fantastic and we’ve developed a great fan base in Europe especially in Germany,” notes Rennison.
Calling the difference between their debut `Boo Hoo Hoo’ record and their latest `Old Habits Die Hard’ release the difference between your high school promo photo and your first police mug shot, the new Ben Kaplan-produced opus which will be released May 20th, is an all-out party rock record with sonic rave tracks like “Saturday Night”, “Lead Foot” and “All Woman”, all punctuated by Rennison’s blues/rock vocal pyrotechnics.
“We wanted to release a record that paid homage to my classic rock roots but we didn’t want to release a retro record,” Rennison explained. “ I wanted to absorb those influences into something current.”
With a new band featuring Daniel Sveinson on guitar, Nathan Shubert (keyboards), Cole George (drums) and Joe Labinsky (bass), No Sinner made their sonic impression at this year’s CMW conference with two high octane performances at The Garrison venue. Rennison has also already performed in Ontario and Quebec as a duet with Tea Party’s Jeff Martin. Expect further domestic dates as `Old Habits Die Hard’ roles out with European dates scheduled as soon as the band can get their financial ducks In a row.
The only obstacle the band faces moving forward is Rennison’s loathing of all things social media. “I know this is the way things are done these days and that the onus is on the band to promote record sales and do our own marketing but I am so bad at social media,” she confesses. “I am the type that likes to be creative but I am not one of those strange, technically inclined people. I am so busy having a good time that I find social media to be a real pain in the ass.”
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