By Nicole Kobie
The sound for the new millennium has a name. It used to be Sin Fronteras, but the local band consisting of Chris Howes (vocals), Sal Fernandez (guitar), Darren Benner (guitar), Rob Merrick (bass) and Steve Bartel (percussion, harmony vocals) has since switched to Push To Exit. The name change came last week because another Latin band already uses it.
"They’re like the Beatles of Latin America," explains Howes. "They have the suits, bowl hair cuts, and the ties, and we can’t really compete with that."
The new name, Push to Exit, came from a list of over a 180 ideas the band came up with. There is no special significance to the name, they simply chose it because it is memorable, and is seen everywhere. It’s written on doors everywhere–why even advertise?
The band’s music is memorable too. Push to Exit has a remarkably different sound, which is largely due to the band’s wide variety of influences. They avidly listen to everything from ’80s rock to hip hop to techno, and it shows in the music they create.
"We can’t describe it," says Benner of the band’s sound. "It’s all of our influences. jumbled into one, with a Latin twist."
The band’s current sound is not what it has always been. Originally, Push to Exit had a hard-rock or heavy metal feel, but with a Latin influence. The new feel of the band is due to personal growth and experimentation.
"We all just grew up, to tell you the truth. [We were playing] a kind of music that was kind of going down," Fernandez explains.
The band has been together for years, but Howes is an recent addition. He gained the position of lead vocalist in April. After studying music for five years at the University of Brandon, Howes achieved a major in sax, and a double minor in piano and vocals. His true love, however, is for singing. He hopes to emulate the style of his favourite vocalists, such as Ed Kowalczyk, of the band Live.
"There are different styles of vocalists. He [Kowalczyk] is a great vocalist. There are [vocalists] who effectively sing, not just talk or grunt or scream, but they’ll sing a line with a melody. To hit every level so successfully, there’s few singers who can do it," explains Howes.
Since April, they’ve sold out a show at the Unicorn, appeared on the Breakfast Show, finished a CD, and had the worst, yet funniest, show of their professional lives. Last summer, still known as Sin Fronteras, they played Hempfest in Kelowna. On the way up to the show, half the band got lost and did not arrive until 2 a.m., slept in a ditch, and played to a whopping crowd of about 25 people.
Push to Exit intends to play a lot of shows in Calgary and Western Canada even though they feel the local music scene is virtually non-existent.
"My personal opinion is that [the local music scene] doesn’t exist. As far as competition goes, original music doesn’t have a lot of merit in Calgary. Everyone wants to hear cover bands. They’re the guys getting the shows," laments Benner.
"I think a lot of the local bands, a lot of the talent that’s out there right now, a lot of them are depressing," adds Fernandez on local bands. "We stay away from that quite a bit… we like to have fun."
And what will be the sound for the new millennium?
"Push to Exit, there’s a cocky answer," laughs Benner. "It’ll be extremely diverse, a lot of different stuff happening. There’ll be a lot of new styles coming out… there’s going to be such an array of choices for the listening public."
Push to Exit’s EP release will be sometime later this month or early February. In the meantime, more information can be found on the band’s website: www.pushtoexit.com