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Going Blind see light at the end of the tunnel

WHO: Going Blind’s CD release party WHERE: The Boot Pub WHEN: Jan.

WHO: Going Blind’s CD release party

WHERE: The Boot Pub

WHEN: Jan. 14

Fans of new-age punk and fast paced music will score a great night out with Whistler’s Going Blind, but also a copy of the band’s new album Referatic upon entry to The Boot’s CD release party this week.

Since their first Whistler gig at Maxx Fish in September 1999, Going Blind has carved out a strong niche in the local punk scene, alongside fellow punk musicians SideSixtySeven. The five-member group comprises Steve Chartland on lead vocals, guitarist Jamie Timms, bass player Jason Fisher, lead guitarist Dom Koric and Nate Jensen on drums. Koric says Referactic has been independently produced in studios in Squamish and is a far cry from their first CD, simply entitled Going Blind .

"We recorded that album of punk cover songs in my bedroom in one day – my birthday actually," he recalls. "We ran off 50 copies and started selling them at our concert that night."

He says the night turned into a huge party, with so many people buying him birthday shots of liquor that he almost fell off the stage. But he says things have now changed.

"We try to stay sober at least until after our gigs now, because the music we are playing is pretty tight and technical."

In fact, the band acknowledge Going Blind has moved well beyond being a bunch of friends just jamming together.

"Everything is planned, right down to scheduling our holidays together – it’s like being married," laughs Koric.

The content of Going Blind’s music has also changed. All tracks but one on the new album (a remake of Ozzy Ozborne’s classic, Paranoid) are originals and the band says there is a wealth of creative material yet to be pinned down in the studio. It’s a move that is attracting a significant local following, according to Chartland.

"The song ProHo’s is all about snowboarder groupies who are after the free gear and perks that go with it and that song is really popular here, probably because people can relate to it."

He says Referatic is best described as "melodic punk" with a strong presence of backing vocals. San Francisco bands Bad Religion, NOFX and Reset are cited among the key influences.

The modern punk scene in Canada is a far cry from its English predecessor in the late ’70s and ’80s, when the Sex Pistols first stomped onto the stage. Chartland says the catalyst for punk’s revival has been snowboarder videos, which predominantly use punk as the background soundtrack. "Skatepunk" music has also been a driving factor, he said.

"When snowboarding began taking off in the mid-90s punk rock did too, and events such as the Warp Tour – the Lollapalooza of punk – started up."

Chartland says the live music scene isn’t overly strong in Whistler but it is improving.

"The village is pretty much saturated with hip-hip and techno bars, but nothing beats the energy of a live act on stage, and fortunately a few bar managers do realize this."

As for the future, it seems Going Blind’s plans are as fast and furious as their music. During the first two weeks of March, all the ski resorts in British Columbia will be treated to a punk experience, followed by a Canada-wide tour in late summer. The USA could be next in line.

However, Koric says it depends on a few factors.

"We will be sending Referatic out to the major record labels in the hope they will pick it up and we also keep a manager, because doing that job has turned my hair purple."

For the record, Koric does indeed have purple hair – three shades.

The band also has dreams of appearing on Much Music, so if you want to help them along, cast a vote for them on where they are currently listed. Or if computers aren’t your gig, old schoolers pull on yer Doc Martens and boarders grab your cap and head on down to The Boot.