By Keith Sharp
If the name Ascot Royals has a British connotation, that’s because band lead singer and keyboardist brothers, Jimmy and Ben Chauveau are both native Londoners who immigrated to Canada 12 years ago when their mother remarried a Canadian native.
“It’s a pisstake on Royal Ascot, a posh horse race that’s staged once a year in London and is always attended by the Royal Family,” says Ben Chauveau, calling from Toronto’s St Clair Subway station as he waits for brother Jimmy and guitarist Tal Vaisman who are currently completing a writing session at Slaight Music’s in-office recording studio.
“When we used to go to school on Ascot Day , Jimmy and I would see all these men in their top hats and all these dressed up ladies but when we came back home from school, those same people would be punching each other in the streets, totally pissed,” laughed Chauveau. “So knowing how challenging it is to come up with an original band names, we came up with a twist on Royal Ascot.”
The genesis of the band was formed after Jimmy Chauveau, guitarist Tal Vaisman ( a former Israeli soldier) and drummer Sam Stark all attended sound engineering/production classes offered by Metalworks Studio, a Toronto area recording studio owned by former Triumph drummer/vocalist Gil Moore.
Although only Vaisman actually completed the course, the trio, along with Ben Chauveau and bassist Scott Page formed Ascot Royals six years ago. “Jimmy and Tal are our key songwriters and their influences are all over the place,” noted Chauveau. “Jimmy and I were brought up on British classic rock bands like The Beatles, Stones, The Who and Queen and both Jimmy and Tal are big on Scottish rock band Biffy Clyro. I think these influences kind of merged together when we recorded our debut EP, `New Skin’.
This seven-track EP (released in late January) was kickstarted by a friend of the band who entered a band track, “Wolves” in Slaight Music’s 2014 “It’s Your Shot” talent contest. “We didn’t know we had been entered when we received an email from Slaight Music congratulating on our track making top 10 in their contest. Then we received another email saying we had made top 4 and although we didn’t win the contest, Slaight Music were sufficiently impressed that they offered to get involved with us.”
Founded in 2011 as a music entrepreneurial partnership between legendary radio mogul Gary Slaight and former Spoons drummer/record executive Derrick Ross to promote and develop domestic music talent, Ascot Royals have grown and developed under Slaight Music’s direction.
“People like Ali Slaight, Derrick Ross and Jim Campbell have been like family to us,” mused Chaveau. “They have worked with us in all aspects of our development.”
Under Slaight Music’s direction, the Ascot Royals released a debut single last year, “The Best Is Yet To Come” which received strong radio support and their new EP release, `New Skin’ has been developed with top production support from the likes of Gavin Brown (Metric, Billy Talent, Three Days Grace), Eric Ratz (Big Wreck, Monster Truck) with Walk Off The Earth’s Gianni Luminati contributing vocals to the record’s closing track “Empires”.
Slaight Music also teamed with band manager Casey Marshall and the Feldman Agency to set up a major tour supporting Big Wreck which is winding down after touring Canada from January 25th until March 17th. “It was Slaight Music who pushed us to release `New Skin’ prior to the tour, we needed product out there to go to radio and sell at our gigs.”
As for touring with Ian Thornley’s Big Wreck outfit, Chaveau calls the experience “surreal”. “Big Wreck are not only great guys but they are also the greatest musicians we’ve ever been privileged to play with,” he enthused. “Their demographic has proven to be ideal for us, we have received a great reception from their audience and we are encouraged by the radio airplay and cd sales we have generated so far.”
Chaveau understands that it is still early days for the band. They are hopeful that the initial buzz generated by their Big Wreck dates will translate into key summer festival dates and a further national tour and hope that word of the band’s current success will permeate across the Atlantic to the UK- a market the Chaveau’s would love to target.
“I have been talking to a music contact in the UK and I have told her that it should be mandatory for every new British band to tour Canada,”enthused Chaveau. “If they can spend eight to 10 hours a day traveling to gigs in Canada, they can do this anywhere. Touring the UK then would be a piece of cake.”