By Keith Sharp
Grease Coast Rock is a term coined by Antigonish area quartet Andre Pettipas & The Giants who have just released their third studio album, ‘Under Control’ before hitting local Maritime venues to promote the release.
Vocalist/Guitarist Andre Pettipas, bassist (and brother) Travis Pettipas, drummer Mark Cosh and guitarist John MacDonald are currently touring in support of the album’s debut single; “Definition Of A Dweeb.
Recorded partially at The Tragically Hip’s studio in Bath Ontario and completed at New Glasgow Nova Scotia’s Shoebox studio, ‘Under Control’ features 13 up-tempo tracks featuring a concoction of Southern Rock and Maritime power pop influences which Andre Pettipas, the band leader has dubbed “Grease Coast Rock And Roll”
“When we started the band, we wanted to be different, to look like outsiders,” Pettipas noted. “Grease Coast Rock put a name behind our sound. It’s got an East Coast Sound but a bit edgier, sort of like Southern Power Pop Rock. It’s a bit more eclectic, it’s rock n roll but we have some East Coast influences in there too.”
Pettipas and his band were only at Hip’s Bathhouse Studios for three days, but he enthused that the experience was “magical”. “Nothing tops that experience. There were good vibes in that household. Those three days went by in like 10 hours. We did 13 bed tracks each night and then went upstairs and listened to the Hip’s vinyl record collection.”
“We would cross the street and look at Lake Ontario, the view Gord Downie was always writing about, drawing all the inspiration we could get from that experience.”
Formed in 2014 after Andre suffered a near-fatal case of encephalitis,, he moved back from Alberta and teamed up with brother Travis to work with Cosh and MacDonald to release a debut EP titled “Stay Gold” in 2015. Their big break occurred when they entered a track titled “A Long Way From Home” (featuring ace fiddle player Ashley MacIssac) into Halifax radio station Q-104’s Home Grown contest in 2017. The band won the contest which provided them with $15,000 worth of prizes including instruments from Long & McQuade and studio time at Coda Pop Studios in Halifax.
This studio time led to their second release ‘No Fools No Fun’ which featured production help on “Sympathy Card” by The Trews’ John Angus MacDonald and “Dark Times” by Arkells’ frontman Max Kerman.
Originally released as an EP in 2018, the record was expanded to a full album in 2021 after the band toured Canada and appeared at the Heart Festival in Orebro Sweden.
A prolific live band, not even COVID could slow them down and they recorded a two-record live set at Toronto’s El Mocambo in September 2022 featuring their old material plus road-testing new tracks which are featured on the current release.
Under Control’s first single is titled “Definition Of A Dweeb” featuring a humorous video of a young kid being bullied at school who retires to the washroom, pulls out his guitar, and finally goes on stage, morphs into the real Andre Pettipas and of course wins over the chicks”
Asked if this track was autobiographical, Pettipas laughs and recounts a story about a grade 9 incident when he accidentally shaved his head bald. “We were at a soccer provincial and everyone on our team decided to give themselves a Mohawk haircut, but I left some hair slightly off centre. I left the guard on my clipper, went to trim my hair, and went bald to my head. So, I used that experience as an adult looking back at being a teenager going through those growing pains. The message being that even dweebie guys can win girls over if they can play music and that was a high school version of me. and that their is a spot in this world for outcasts too.”
“I had my 15-year-old nephew play the younger me in the video and the overall message being, high school jocks may win sports medals but look what we can achieve! It’s too bad we don’t make any money doing it” He laughs.
Pettipas notes that being a Maritime band has its challenges when they tour the rest of Canada (as they hope to do early in the new year) “It’s tough the way the economy is, he notes. “To get a grasp on who we are, you have to see us play live yet just the cost of gasoline is prohibitive. To think it takes 60 hours of solid driving to get from coast to coast so you are down quite a bit financially before you start making money! There are venues booked up a year in advance, there’s a definite disconnect between club owners and a band’s ability to make money.
“We traveled from Edmonton to Nova Scotia in 53 hours, three of us driving, lots of Tim Horton’s and energy drinks. Isn’t rock and roll glamourous, it’s the best!” he laughs.
Still, Andre Pettipas And The Giants, push on, determined to sell their Grease Coast rock to the masses. “The further you pull back on your slingshot, the further the rock is going to go,” he theorizes. “And we are setting ourselves up to promote that vision.”