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The Complete package

WHO: Complete WHERE: The Boot WHEN: Sunday, May 6 The road to musical success is one full of twists, especially in Canada, where overnight stardom is just a fairytale.

WHO: Complete

WHERE: The Boot

WHEN: Sunday, May 6

The road to musical success is one full of twists, especially in Canada, where overnight stardom is just a fairytale. Canadian musical talents must find creative ways to promote themselves and, in the meantime, pay the bills.

Vancouver pop-punk quartet, Complete, have been on that road since 1998. Complete actually started as one such creative side-project, while founders Kyle Richardson and Jon Goodridge were part of another band, The Retreads. While The Retreads would eventually find differences that couldn’t be resolved, Richardson and Goodridge realized Complete was quietly gaining momentum and decided to focus their efforts.

Richardson was eager to include brother Darren in the project and Andrew Cairns would be added later on second guitar to round out their sound… a sound that was a break away from the hard-driving punk of The Retreads, and a conscious step forward to the growing radio-friendly pop punk market.

And it would seem fans and critics have decided there’s something just a little special about Complete. The band’s latest CD, Trials and Tribulations of Everyday Life , is enjoying airplay on CFOX, XFM and MuchMusic, they’re repeat offenders on the Vans’ Warped Tour, opened for the likes of GOB and often receive comments that their performances are more memorable than the headliners.

And just as important is the business sense of Richardson, the founder of Spawner Records, one of the fastest growing indie labels in the west.

"I started putting out compilation tapes just for the local scene," says Richardson. "It was just a silly name. I didn’t expect anything to happen at all. It was just a joke to tell you the truth, you know to have a name on the back of the tape to make it look official. And after about two years of doing these kinds of tapes and CDs, I began taking it seriously and now we’ve got distribution that’s recognized across Canada and the States."

What Richardson so humbly leaves out is the countless hours spent licking envelopes, telephone networking, hitting the pavement with posters and changing oil in the tour van.

"Basically I keep everyone in line," he jokes.

But being the business force and the songwriter in the group isn’t always an easy thing to balance. Certainly it can’t be the monetary rewards that keeps Richardson going. Spawner Records is a co-operative label. Any money made goes directly back into the bands.

And Richardson is constantly on the lookout for the business formula for success without stifling Complete’s artistry.

"I look at other bands, which are working and progressing. I always use GOB as an example because in our genre of music they’re the biggest thing in Canada right now. I just study their CDs, what stations they’re hitting and who they talk to."

"But when we sit down to write," continues Richardson, "we don’t say ‘Oh, we’re gonna try to write this kind of song.’ We just go with whatever comes out. One thing we mentally do though is mix it up a bit. We don’t want the same formula over and over again. If you listen to the CD it’s not black and white. We don’t want to be pigeonholed."

In fact, now that the ball is rolling, Richardson envisions Spawner merging with another established label. The hard work of all of Spawner’s bands – including Wishing Well, Burden, the johnsons, Tim and Huskavarna – wouldn’t be lost and there would be more time for Richardson to concentrate on his musicianship.

"Music and business go hand in hand, unfortunately. And if you want to make it here, you really have to take control of both of those aspects. If you don’t you’re gonna be stuck with what could be great music, but you’ll just be playing it for your buddies."