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Whistler musician George Skoupas releases fourth solo album

Quietly Raging is a personal story, an ode to nature and an expression of musical minimalism from the Brother Twang vocalist 
George Skoupas of the Whistler band Brother Twang performs onstage.

George Skoupas dropped a new album earlier this summer. It’s his fourth solo project, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard from his band, Brother Twang.

For starters, there are no vocals in Quietly Raging, which came out the last week of July. None at all. There aren’t any drums either. Instead, what you get is acoustic guitar mixed with a dash of electric guitar, grounded by some bass and keyboard work. Everything else is… well, it’s not music in a conventional sense. 

This time around, Skoupas uses the sounds of nature to craft a series of moods and scenes, referring to each of his seven tracks as “a little cinematic snippet.” 

For example, “Meatsauce” features the steady pitter-patter of heavy rain backgrounded by instrumentals. “Ghost Ship” paints the unsettling picture of an abandoned vessel, creaking back and forth as it is buffeted by waves and surrounded by vocal seagulls. “Thailand Express,” which Skoupas composed as a tribute to Canadian rock band Rush, captures the spirit of a train trip to Bangkok. “Fishin’” delivers as advertised, calling to mind an idyllic day on the lake with mellow guitar riffs and the sounds of reels being cast. 

It all builds to a haunting crescendo with “The Finger of God,” a 16-minute musical odyssey inspired by the 1996 disaster film, Twister. Unlike Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton back in the day, Skoupas manages to convey the awe-inspiring power of a supercell thunderstorm without Hollywood theatrics—just deliberately-placed instrumentation amidst the bellows of distressed livestock and the freight-train roar of a cataclysmic EF5 tornado. 

Chill out

Quietly Raging is not necessarily the album of choice for those seeking an uptempo banger. It is an intricate and fascinating listen for those willing to slow down and lose themselves in another world. Skoupas found inspiration for his latest unconventional work, rather befittingly, from an unconventional place. 

“You know when you go to the Scandinave or some kind of spa and they just have this really relaxing music in the background?” he says. “One day, I was having a massage and my wife was next to me having her massage also, and the masseuse had some music on. It was Deva Premal. It was just really ethereal and it sounded wicked. I thought: as a guitarist, how can I make that just a little bit more interesting to me?” 

The Whistlerite has remained active over the years with Brother Twang. Since 2007, they’ve shared their brand of fast-paced rock and aggressive country with the Sea to Sky and beyond. Yet there’s a side of Skoupas that appreciates the softer and more melodic side of music: stuff like Premal, Kitaro and Marty Friedman’s individual content.

“Being part of a band unit, there’s four of us. Even if I wrote a little bit more, everyone else is still going to have their input and then it shapes what that band ends up being,” he says. “But my solo albums have all been instrumental, and they’ve always explored the side of the instruments—the bass, the guitar, the interplay of that, seeing almost the bare minimum of what instrumentation, melody and harmony you need to make up a song.

“Sometimes, it takes nothing but three chords and a melody, and that’s a hit Tom Petty song.” 

All the rage 

Don’t mistake Skoupas’ minimalism for simplicity, though. His latest offering is deep, nuanced and multi-layered, containing intensely personal themes from his own heart and life.

Take for instance, the album’s title: Quietly Raging. It is a reflection of Skoupas’ journey from the bright lights and non-stop hustle of Toronto to the majestic mountains of Whistler. Growing up in Canada’s largest metropolitan area, Skoupas came to feel a sense of internal turmoil and asked himself: what am I not getting from the city?

Skiing from the top of 7th Heaven at 7,000 feet with shoulder-deep powder all around answered that question in a way night-skiing in Barrie at 700 feet never could. Whistler driving is another plus in his mind—after all, Highway 99 on its most congested day is hardly a match for the traffic nightmare that is Highway 401.

Even so, Skoupas understands that no place is perfect, and the sources of his grievance have evolved over time. 

“Frustrations are going to be everywhere in life, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” he says candidly. “Just because I moved out here, my concerns haven’t been abated. Now I’m a dad and my concerns are different, right? So there’s still a little bit of a rage there at the state of the government, housing, this and that. 

“My friends from Toronto will always be like: ‘Oh, you moved out to the mountains and you still got the rage,’ but now it’s more quiet and in the background because there’s way more things that fill the time as opposed to when I was in Toronto.”

Then there’s a song like “The Finger of God,” which juxtaposes violence with peace and death with life in a particularly profound manner. After the tornado passes through, a juggernaut with no care for who or what it obliterates, listeners hear a slow heartbeat that eventually flatlines—an acknowledgement of nature’s destructive potential and the inevitable end of human life on Earth. Yet, after death comes the sound of new life: Skoupas’ son quietly playing guitar, his daughter being born. 

“It’s my interpretation of [the afterlife],” he explains. “You could possibly die. You go through a period of who knows how long and then, who knows if you end up being in another life or whatnot. Every song is kind of like a journey like that.” 

Quietly Raging is currently available on Spotify and Apple Music.