By Keith Sharp
When you happen to be a new rock band launched from the middle of Vancouver Island, there’s no easy way to go about getting your career off the ground.
Band Of Rascals’ drummer Marcus Manhas will testify to this. From a group of four friends who got together in 2013, just to have some fun, Manhas, lead singer Sam Trainor, guitarist Malcolm Owen-Flood and bassist Sean Marcy, have spent the past three years criss-crossing the country in an RV building a reputation while supporting a self-titled 2014 debut E.P. An investment which paid off when an appearance at the 2017 Juno Fest talent showcase in Ottawa brought the band to the attention of Paquin talent agency’s Grant Paley.
This led to the band working with noted producer Eric Ratz (Billy Talent, Arkells, Monster Truck) on a new E.P titled `Tempest’, recorded at Bryan Adams’ Warehouse Studios, which drops October 13th.
With one track, “Holler” already drawing strong radio attention, Manhas is optimistic that Band Of Rascals is achieving national attention, especially in Western Canada where the band is currently touring in support of the E.P release.
Calling in from scenic Cowichan Bay, before packing his bags to head out to Canmore Alberta to kick off a 13-date tour of Western club venues, Manhas admitted his band had no idea what they were doing when they first got together in 2013. “We got together at my rehearsal space, we were just jamming for the fun of it, writing stuff but nothing serious. But then we got this gig at a local bar, our friends came out in support and we got this crazy response. Everyone was excited about the gig so we just kept expanding to surrounding cities and things took off from there.”
Manhas notes that social media has helped get the word out but the reality is that if the band wanted to play any significant industry showcases, they have to travel to Toronto. “We played Canadian Music Week during our first Eastern tour in 2015 and the exposure we received in Ottawa during Juno week definitely strengthened our profile.”
It hasn’t hurt that the band was able to lure Eric Ratz to produce their second E.P. Ratz who has developed a reputation for working with different types of bands, has been able to forge a distinct, R&B rock sound for Band Of Rascals.
“When we started we had no idea what direction the band was going to take, we were kind of grungy like Nirvana or Pearl Jam,” explained Manhas. “But working with Eric was great. He has helped us create a really organic sound on tracks like “Control” and “Reaction”. He can adapt the band on each song to get the vibe across which is very cool for us.”
Manhas is especially enthused about the reaction “Holler” is triggering nationally. “You never know what song is going to connect but we’ve had a good response on Spotify and radio so that is encouraging for us”.