Headed straight for the auditory canals of the service-sector employees and university students comes a bevy of small-town Ontario boys that’ll do you an even greater service than paying your tuition or replenishing your supply of Ichiban noodles. Served up on a skateboard smelling suspiciously of the kitchen at your crappy day job comes the confetti-covered, power-pop driven rock ‘n’ roll of Hollerado. Their first full-length release, Record in a Bag, has all the fun of temporary tattoos and fortune cookie predictions packed into twelve neat little song slices.

You think you know how the story goes. Indie band emerges on scene, sings about girls, exits with a fizzle. Not so for Hollerado. Frontman Menno Versteeg shares the secret to going from sideshow attraction to North American tour headliners, a leap that so many Canadian indie bands attempt to make every day.

“It takes tons and tons of going out and playing for nothing and playing for no one and sleeping on floors and eating handouts,” says Versteeg. “We were willing to do that and we’ve been doing that basically nonstop for four years. Like anything, if you just are persistent enough you’re going to notice some kind of return on it. There’s tons of great indie bands in Canada and I love their music, but that’s not enough these days. You have to have music that people like but you also have to be willing to get behind it.”

Before they were touring the neighbours to the south promoting their first album, Hollerado were just four boys growing up on the same street in Manotick, Ontario — a fact that’s impossible to miss when listening to Record in a Bag.

“That’s kind of where we come from,” says Versteeg. “We’re just writing about what we know. I’m sure it’s gonna change as we get to travel more and live different places . . . but that album was written in Manotick and Montreal where we were working crappy jobs so that kind of comes out in it.”

At the same time, Versteeg has a humble attitude towards his group’s growing acclaim. The group managed to leave those crappy jobs behind, which is no mean feat for a band from small town Ontario.

“We weren’t expecting to make it big and we’re still not. We can barely pay the rent right now which is really amazing. As far as indie bands go, that’s making it pretty big I guess.”

Hollerado’s success isn’t that surprising. Their distinct style has won over many fans — from their handwritten website to their record in a bag, that literally comes in a bag, the band doesn’t hesitate to convey their quirky personalities. However, Hollerado insist that the essence of the band lies in their fans.

“[Our fan base] is really, really diverse and we pride ourselves on the inclusiveness of our scene. We even have people at our shows who like Nickelback,” says Versteeg. “We’re a floating band that doesn’t really fit into any genre and is not quite radio-pop and is not total indie snob music, so we get a whole mix and a lot of misfits, too.”

Versteeg is clear that at a Hollerado show you’d be as likely to see “dads, jocks and Nickelback fans” as you would “indie snobs,” and he believe that’s part of the band’s charm. On the topic of fans, he also reserved a special little spot in his heart for Calgary concertgoers.

“Calgary’s one of our favourite places to play. We’ve played the Sled Island Festival a couple of times, and we’ve played festivals all over the world, and that is maybe the coolest festival. It’s so awesome.”

This isn’t the only reason why Hollerado is eager to meander over to our little city.

“We’ve got a good friend named Phil who lives there and Phil is an incredible host, he lets us all sleep on his floor and couches . . . and he makes us these amazing meals because he’s a chef,” he says. “We’re launching a Hollerado Hot Sauce that’s going to be launched at the beginning of our Canadian leg of this tour and it’s being made in Calgary by our friend Phil and some of his friends who are chefs.”

The night of Nov. 15, will not only prove to be a United Nations of all of Calgary’s subcultures, but will be fraught with all sorts of spicy condiments.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we can play live and put on a really entertaining show. Every night we try and make it different. We don’t have a script we run by.”

Unscripted indeed, and that will ensure that when the quartet of Canada’s next indie darlings rolls into Calgary, it’s sure to be radder than anything you’ve seen before.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.