Building a new sound 

Carpenter returns to their roots, recreating their music with a message

click to enlarge Bluecollar Boys Members of Carpenter incorporate their concerns about the agricultural industry into their music
  • Bluecollar Boys Members of Carpenter incorporate their concerns about the agricultural industry into their music

Who: Carpenter, with Trigger Effect, The Fall of Summer, Madcowboys Where: Garfinkel’s

When: Sunday, June 1, 9:30 p.m.

Tickets: $8

Imagine a punk-inspired John Cougar Mellencamp. It’s really something you have to hear to believe.

But with Dan Sioui on vocals and guitar, Kelly Burnham on vocals and bass, Ryan Howlett on guitar, and JJ Heath on vocals and drums, Carpenter has a wealth of punk and hardcore background to draw upon.

Though the members knew one another through Vancouver’s music scene, they each played in separate bands, and it wasn’t until a few bad band experiences left them totally disillusioned that they finally teamed up.

Sioui’s band had broken up, and he had actually abandoned music.

“Then, of course, a few months go by and you sort of get the bug, or whatever,” said Sioui. “But I really sort of hit writer’s block, and I didn’t know how to get over it.”

He decided the only way to get over his block was to start working to a deadline, so, without a band or any new material, he went ahead and booked time at the Hive Studio three months down the road. Then, he sat down with an old guitar and started writing.

He eventually recruited Burnham, Howlett and Heath to collaborate for the studio time he had booked, and they eventually become “Carpenter.”

It was a side project that none of them thought would really turn into anything.

“It’s not that different from the mafia, where it pulled me back in,” Sioui said with a laugh.

But it turned into something much bigger than any of them had intended or expected.

Unlike with each of their past groups, Carpenter’s music is simple and classic in structure, with verses, choruses and catchy hooks. Even the name is traditional and blue-collar.

But their music also has a message.

The members of the band are passionate about issues of food production and availability, frequently incorporating the topics into their lyrics.

“We’re not political people, per se… but for whatever reason I just found this sort of one thing that really spoke to me in terms of the struggle of farmers across North America… and just how they’re trying to survive in a world that’s trying to push them out,” Sioui said.

A self-described city slicker from just outside of Toronto, Sioui started doing some research on the issues modern day farmers face.


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