Local shred punk band brings a new life to a non-mainstream genre
Calgary is known for its Western stereotype, especially when it comes to music. However, to the keen music junkie, there is a whole other side to Calgary’s music scene and it involves the typical local Calgarian decked out with a spiked mohawk and studded jacket.
The punk scene is strong, but to many it is still seen as an underground genre. Lead singer and guitarist of Reckless Heroes, Kevin Towill says: “I believe that Calgary has a very strong and devoted punk scene. Perhaps it is still considered ‘underground’ but it still has a very strong community of good people who enjoy going to shows and having fun.”
Towill, along with Danny Daigle, Chris Saunders and Nolan Semenoff make up the punk band, creating a “heavy, distorted, fast, and energetic.”
Saunders, Reckless Heroes’ guitarist, explains that their sound isn’t considered punk, but a mixed genre.
“It’s not your standard punk rock, it a little more technical, it’s definitely different from everything else out there,” Saunders says. “We have too many influences to name but somewhere between rock and metal.”
Bring the energy
Reckless’ sound is not a tune you listen to casually — it’s music you rock out to in a mosh pit. Fast pace beats, strong lyrics and a dash of shred punk make each song one you’ll bang your head to.
Because of Calgary’s stereotypes and club scenes, being a successful punk band located here might seem unrealistic, however the band is following the footsteps of bands such as Belvedere and Knucklehead. But, what sets aside Reckless Heroes from the crowd is the energy they bring to every show.
“We’re all crazy, but that just comes with being in a band,” Saunders says.
“It’s like a family outside anything else. We all live together, we’re like brothers so we have our fights but it’s just like three other brothers fighting you know?”
Photo by Hannah Cawsey
The one thing that sets Reckless Heroes apart from many bands is their living situation. Not only do the members all live together, they have converted their basement into a band room where they practice and host shows. The members put in six hours of practice per week in their band room along with two to five hours of individual practice on top of shows they also host at home.
Reckless Heroes started up in 2009 and has released two full-length albums, False Starts and Failed Attempts as well as Dark Times.
The band members all have different stories on how they got into the scene, which is normally stereotyped for angst-y misfits – not a scene where emotional connections are made.
“I first got into the punk scene by going to local shows as a teen and then eventually I started Reckless Heroes and had the opportunity to connect with many more people involved in the punk community,” Towill, 23, says.
His story is similar to his other bandmates. Saunders also soaked up the punk scene at a young age.
“Late junior high and high school, my friends went to punk shows so I started going to punk shows. I kind of just stuck with it,” says Saunders, who is considered the band’s lead shred artist.
However, Daigle, the band’s bass player and vocalist, started at an even younger age and used the music as a way to express his emotions.
“It started basically when I was a kid in the sense that I had a lot of anger and I wasn’t very good and expressing myself and therefore punk music always spoke to me because it seemed very honest,” Daigle explained. “It would have been around the age 15 or 16 when I really got into it and started writing my own songs and things of that nature.”
Semenoff, the band’s drummer or “the human metronome” as their website calls him, explained that he got into the punk scene because he was simply bored with rock music.
“My dad bought me a drum set when I was in Grade 6, then I got bored of rock music really fast, that lead to punk,” Semenoff says.
Covers vs. original material
The band puts on a show with their original music, and besides covering the Power Rangers theme song, the audience hears nothing but homemade melodies.
Photo by Hannah Cawsey“When we play shows its 99 per cent original material, we don’t like to do covers,” Saunders says. “We’ve done a couple in the past with mixed results but we like to push our own material.”
Towill agrees stating all of the lyrics he writes are from his heart.
“Most of my lyrics are very personal and are taken directly out of my own life experiences,” Towill says.
Towill isn’t the only one who writes lyrics for the band – both Saunders and Daigle contribute and understand each other’s point of view making it easier to put vocal emotion into each song.
“Anything that I write about, if you read the lyrics out loud to me I can explain them very deeply and how they connect to me in life and the people I associate with and the situations I find myself in,” Daigle says.
“That’s important to me with music because why would you want to write about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll all the time?”