Mike Eastick – Vocals and guitar
Sean Kelly – Guitar
Bruce Nicol – Bass
Ryan Barkwell – Drummer
Perseverance: Steady, unyielding persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, a purpose or a goal.
Faith: Confident, unwavering belief in the truth and value of an idea.
A lot can happen over the course of sixteen seasons: four hockey seasons, an undergraduate degree at university, a jail sentence for break-and-enter, two Olympiads, a US presidential term, one leap year. In other words, it can feel like a long, long time.
Musicians exist for one reason: to make music. They will do whatever it takes to get their music out there—sacrifices, detours, career re-boots and grinding it out—even if it takes sixteen long seasons.
Throughout their career, the guys in Idle Sons have been anything but, well, idle (for the most part, really—but we’re getting ahead of ourselves). They formed while in high school, released a bunch of albums under an old name, recorded an album with major label under a new name and had to wait four long years—16 seasons, geddit?—before they could release their debut major label record. And here it is.
Chapter 1: The Early Years
Everyone in Idle Sons is from Burlington, the commuter suburb stuck between Toronto and Hamilton near the western tip of Lake Ontario. Fittingly, Mike and Sean were on the same line on their hockey team while Bruce and Ryan were pitcher/catcher combination during baseball season. The four eventually came together as slurpymundae (yes, that’s how you spell it) who released a couple of EPs and an album before realizing that “slurpymundae” wasn’t a name with any kind of a future. That’s why, at the start of the new century, they decided to go with “Idle Sons.” Based on the strength of a three-song demo recorded with the help of their cross-town buddies Finger Eleven, the group signed with a major label. After six months’ worth of recording in the LA sun, Idle Sons flew home to await the imminent release of their major label debut. They were going to call it Hell or High Water.
Chapter 2: The Purge and the Wait
And so they waited. And waited. And waited some more. For months, they kept hearing promises like “Two more weeks and it’ll be out! It’s on the schedule!”
Then there was a merger of the record label and an old-school Internet company. And to balance the books in the new post-merger world, the Powers-That-Be ordered a full-scale housecleaning and purge.
But as bleak as it might have been at times, the guys never once contemplated even the possibility of packing it in. The mantra became “Whatever doesn’t kill us can only make us stronger.” They—and their circle of fans—kept the faith.
Chapter 3: Redemption
So what turned things around? There was the continuous focus on song writing and constant gigging. There was one particular show where Idle Sons were recognized by some scouts who remembered a particularly incendiary showcase back in 2000—back when they were already signed to another label and thus spoken for. One meeting led to another and suddenly—after almost four years of waiting—Idle Sons found themselves at The Farm, the oceanfront, 14-acre studio complex run by producer gggarth (ne Garth Richardson), the studio whiz whose credits include Rage Against the Machine, Trapt, Chevelle, Rise Against, Mudvayne, Kittie, L7 and a ton of others.
“Working with Gggarth at his place in Gibson’s Landing, BC, was a dream,” says Mike. “That first Rage album literally changed my life when I was thirteen. That was the record that made me pick up the guitar. The Rest of the guys felt the same way. And now we were in the studio with the guy and he was helping us on songs that we wrote.”
It was an intense twenty-day session in the studio (partly because the BC coast was, er, enjoying a record period of rainfall, hence the irony in the name “Sunshine Coast.” And let’s not even talk about the virus that spread throughout the band and crew as a result of the damp.) Throughout the sessions, there was an emphasis on capturing Idle Sons’ signature live energy. This meant dispensing with a lot of the now-ubiquitous studio trickery in favour of old-fashioned musicianship. Some additional inspiration came from guitar tech Richard Layton, a frequent consultant to bands like Metallica and Tool. Hours were spent discussing the technique and philosophy of playing the guitar.
There are three different types of songs on Sixteen Seasons.
- · Four tracks (“Bleeding,” “This Evening,” “Long Way Home” and “Before the Fall”) survived intact from the never-released Hell or High Water.
- · Four more (“Waiting Around,” “Good Life,” “Better Days”—the track that long-time fans might remember as “Push”—and “Now Forever”) were reworked from their original High or High Water form.
- · The final four songs (the first single,“Tell Me,” “Getaway,” “Little Bit Less” and “Maggot”) are all brand new, all products of the various jams from that seemingly endless period of limbo. Two were demoed just two weeks before the recording sessions began.
Chapter 4: 16 Seasons Later…
A new record that rocks with ferocity, determination and a never-say-die attitude. Listen to it and you’ll see.
Hints for the Panicky Music Journo
If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably some kind of writer, radio person, VJ or something doing research on Idle Sons. Running short of time? Need someplace to start the interview? Ask these questions you’ll quickly sound like someone who knows a lot more than you actually do. [It’s okay. We all do it. –Ed.]
What you should ask: How many wardrobe changes were their in the video for “Tell Me?”
Most likely answer: Somewhere around 50. [Hint: Ask about the video shoot ordeal
What you should ask: What advice can you give to anyone should their van lose a wheel in the middle of the night during a snowstorm somewhere high in the Adirondacks?
Most likely answer: Beware tow truck drivers bearing Sevendust CDs.
What you should ask: Which member of the band can fix your computer? Offer financial planning? Teach your children?
Most likely answer: A long list of some impressive post-secondary credentials
What you should ask: Why could the phrase “bruised fruit” be a fitting title for a future album?
Most likely answer: It will have nothing to do with the produce counter at the grocery store
What you should ask: Was it all worth it?
Most likely answer: Yes.