By Keith Sharp
Punk music is alive and well and residing in Saskatoon Saskatchewan of all places courtesy of a four-man unit called Riversleem.
Vocalist Kyle Zurevinski, guitarist Drew Fitzgerald, bassist Connor Guillet and drummer Kurt Wolfe joined forces in late 2019 and quickly released a self-produced four-track EP titled “A Debut Release” By Riversleem.
In true punk ethos, the four tracks: “Cavalier,” “Observatory,” “Eyebrow” and “Richard” were all recorded in one take-in-one session at the band’s home studio. Riversleem are also exhibiting a philanthropic spirit.
“All proceeds from this release are going to Prairie Harm Reduction, a local organization and safe injection site that seeks to “improve the quality of life for all members of our community through gold standards in harm reduction; emphasizing local action with national impact” noted Zurevinski. “Due to COVID, we have lost the opportunity to have a traditional release, even on the local level However, through this, we still felt the need to give back to our community and make the best of the situation.”
Saskatoon may seem to be an unlikely location for a new punk band to develop, but Zurevinski noted that this prairie city has a really deep history of punk and hardcore music and that growing up, he was influenced by the likes of G.L.O.S.S, Converge and Fucked Up and as a group, they were inspired to write songs they grew up listening to.
Zurevinski and Fitzgerald had known each other for about 10 years but the band strangely started to take shape during a University of Saskatchewan summer study course trip to Singapore where he met drummer Wolfe who resided in the neighbouring city of Humboldt.
“It was like meeting a friend you hadn’t met before,” Zurevinski mused. “We were into the same kind of music; we had attended the same concerts back in Saskatoon. So when we returned home, he introduced to his friend, bassist Connor Guillet and I introduced him to Drew (Fitzgerald) and we formed the band.”
Zurevinski admits the band’s sound is not exactly capital P punk as it was in the 1970s with the Sex Pistols but a fusion of different sources which have been fermented over the past decades. “You look at hip-hop or indie rock and there are threads of punk in that music,” he allowed. “Riversleem is our opportunity for us to develop punk from those different influences, make a sound that’s our own and perform it in a way that’s comfortable to us.”
In true punk fashion, the band is totally independent, handling all recording, management and publicity duties themselves. Zurevinski admits Riversleem has yet to tour and of course, the current COVID-19 epidemic has prevented any opportunity for the band to promote their debut EP live. So the band has taken the time, to rehearse, write new material and plan a template for how they can promote themselves when current touring restrictions are lifted.
“Fortunately, we live in a city where bands thrive on a strong work ethic,” Zurevinski explained. “You get punk bands playing on the same bill as hip hop bands and Country bands, it’s not unusual to find four or five different types of bands playing on the same bill.”
For more information on the Prairie Harm Reduction centre, please link to https://prairiehr.ca