Aviator Shades: The Grass Is Greener This Side Of The Atlantic

Aviator Shades’ vocalist /bassist Dave Gorman is a man after my own heart. Moments after we commence an informal chat during eOne Entertainment’s Canadian Music Week band showcase staged at the Gibson Guitar Lounge Saturday afternoon, May 9th, Gorman’s smart phone rings to broadcast that day’s European soccer scores. It turned out Gorman is an avid Chelsea fan while I support Manchester City. I mean, who cares about music when you can engage in a conversation about British football!

One week later, Gorman is back in his adopted home city of Vancouver and ready to talk business, about the creation and development of one of Canada’s hottest new rock bands, Aviator Shades which Gorman and fellow band members; George Baker (guitar), Shaun Thackeray (guitar) and drummer Spencer Thomlinson have just introduced to Ontario via a high profile appearance at this year’s CMW showcase, performing twice at Toronto’s Hideout venue to a positive response.

“We had an absolute blast, what an experience, It was amazing to come out to Toronto and see such a vast music scene come together in one place,” enthused, Gorman, original from Dublin, Ireland who visited Vancouver on a one-year, working sabbatical and discovered  Canada was a happening destination for rock music.

“It was really an experience for a West Coast band like us to see how competitive the music scene is when you have so many bands compressed into one place during such a short period of time,” he noted. “For a band that hadn’t previously played East of Regina, CMW was a good starting point for us to introduce ourselves and start promoting ourselves to the music industry in Eastern Canada.”

With a debut EP titled “Ready to Blow” recorded last spring, Aviator Shades have created quite a reputation for themselves in Western Canada and now manager, Lyle Chausse is using the band’s exposure at CMW to negotiate a possible record deal and major agency representation for the band.

“We didn’t know what to expect when we played The Hideout on the Tuesday, nobody knew who we were, but the room was about 2/3rds full,” informed Gorman. “And when we went back on the Friday, the place was packed, we couldn’t have asked for it to go any better.”[quote]They are not doing it for the money; rock isn’t necessarily the music you play to make money. But you do it because you love it and that’s where the honesty comes from[/quote]

An avid fan of Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Cream and Metallica, Gorman struggled to maintain a rock band in Dublin as he balanced computer sciences studies at the National University of Ireland. “There’s a lack of an outlet for someone who wants to make a rock band in Ireland, I found it rather hard to find the right players,” he acknowledged. “There’s no community for rock bands even if you do form a group. There’s no radio airplay, the record companies aren’t signing anybody, there’s no industry to give you any encouragement.”

Taking a break from his college studies, Gorman accepted an invitation to execute a working holiday in Vancouver in 2006 and when he arrive at Terminal City, he was amazed by the number of rock bands playing the local scene and was drawn to the notion that local radio actually played rock music.

“I was inspired to think that if I wanted to succeed as a rock musician, I had to go where the rock scene was, and that was Vancouver,” analyzed Gorman.  “So myself and a bass player, Paddy Green, took out a one-year visitor’s permit and we went back to Vancouver in 2008 but we grossly underestimated exactly how much time it would take to organize a band and to understand the music industry, we were both green and naive and we quickly realized a one-year visa would not allow us enough time.”

Gorman also hadn’t completed his college studies so he returned to Ireland to finish off his education, surmising that by having his degree, he would stand a better chance of being accepted as a landed immigrant. Studies now completed, he was back in Vancouver by September 2010, this time alone and he launched his band member search by posting a request on Craig’s List.

“I had recorded some demos in Ireland which I thought were a good representation of the musical direction I wanted the band to go so I posted up my vision of what this band  was , here are a few of my demos, if you are interested, come and talk to me.”

“Twenty five guitar auditions later, I had my band, but I went through a number of players who were `talented but temporary’ before I found George (Baker) and Shaun (Thackeray) in 2012,” noted Gorman. “And then, 18 months ago, I found drummer Spencer Tomlinson in Kamloops, convinced him to move to Vancouver, and from the point we got him, the band was pretty well set.”

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Gorman liked the ambiguous context of the band name Aviator Shades although he allowed that some people questioned if they were a new wave band or an advertisement for a brand of sun glasses. “When we started playing around Vancouver, the name just stuck,” he explained. “Once the band defined itself, the name becomes synonymous with the band and no one really questioned it.”

Working with Default drummer Danny Craig, Aviator Shades recorded a debut six-track EP, titled `Ready to Blow’ last April and have already enjoyed some positive radio response on tracks like “Who Do You Think You Are” and the title track.

“I like songs that tell you a story and draw the listener in at the beginning,” explained Gorman of his powerful rock songs which contain a very European-sounding melodic structure, similar in construction to Gorman’s hero, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott.  “I like to keep my lyrics real; I don’t like to sing about things I can’t relate too.”

So based on this analysis, the song “Tallahassee Woman’ about an encounter with a hooker at a Florida Truck Stop, would be based on personal experience then?  “Er, maybe, loosely,” Gorman stuttered. “Probably more like Kamloops or Kelowna, I can’t quite remember,” he laughed. “But the phonetics of Kamloops or Kelowna didn’t quite work in the song so I settled on Tallahassee.”

aviators shades
Aviator Shades

It was Craig who put the band in contact with top Vancouver-based manager Lyle Chausse, who has developed a strong roster of local talent including Kelowna’s The Wild! “Danny knew  we wanted to take the next step so he opened up the door with Lyle,” Gorman explained. “And we’ve got on great with Lyle, he’s opened up a lot of doors for us, he likes the idea we had already recorded an EP and he has a lot of faith in us

With an EP to pitch to radio, Aviator Shades have been promoting themselves with a seemingly constant itinerary of dates around B.C, Alberta and Saskatchewan. “It’s been mainly bars and it’s not easy, it’s very much an independent world out there,” Gorman allowed. “To survive long term, you have to go out there and work for it, especially as a rock band, in today’s industry; you really have to fight for credibility. For some bizarre reason, some people think rock n roll is dead. But if we get to the top of the mountain, we will definitely value what it’s taken to get us there.”

Enthused that he sees Canada growing as a stronghold for new music with the likes of Glorious Sons, The Arkells, Gloryhound, One Bad Son and stablemates The Wild!,  all carving a niche in today’s industry, Gorman honestly believes a renaissance in new music his hitting this country’s music industry.

“There’s a lot of authentic rock n roll coming out of these bands, “notes Gorman. “They are not doing it for the money; rock isn’t necessarily the music you play to make money. But you do it because you love it and that’s where the honesty comes from.”

Immediate plans are for Aviator Shades to record a new EP this summer for a Fall release with Craig and  noted producer Mike Fraser (Aerosmith, AC/DC, Van Halen) directing the sessions before heading back out to play key western venues with an Eastern Canada push set for next year when the band hopes to make its  mark across the country.

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