A bar band ascends 

Whistler's Red Chair honed their act doing covers, now they want more

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Mixing it up Whistler rock band Red Chair has been adding original songs to the covers performed.
  • Photo submitted
  • Mixing it up Whistler rock band Red Chair has been adding original songs to the covers performed.

Red Chair has a cool website. There, I've said it.

What's more, it's up-to-date with photos and gigs listed until March — something any researching journalist is grateful to see. It's probably useful for fans, too.

A band's website is their calling card these days, apart something a little more immediate and tangible like a packed house where their music plays loudly for dancing fans.

Red Chair has that sorted out, too. And in the process have created a kind of road map for bar bands.

Guitarist Cam Hyde sits in the Longhorn Saloon, talking about the future. He and the rest of the band have had an interesting 2015 for a bar band — moving slightly away from covers and developing their own sound.

When they formed three years ago and were trying to set themselves up as performers, they had a band meeting.

"We sat down and decided that we wanted some upbeat songs, we don't want to do stuff that is too aggressive, it still has to be dancy. Not too heavy rock. But you also don't want to be mellow. That doesn't get people moving. So we looked at everything in the middle."

The "winners" as Hyde describes them were Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, AC/DC.

"We'd throw in Beastie Boys, Black Keys, Billy Idol and The Beatles," he laughs.

Lead singer A.D.A.M. (Wilson) picks up the conversation.

"We started with the idea to do original music, but we knew that in order to get out and play and get good with each other, we pulled a list of cover songs together that we thought would be really bar friendly," he says.

But there was a learning curve, too, in terms of Whistler.

"We have had experience playing in bands, I did it 15 years professionally in Ontario. We learned that this place is a tourist town and that means we get people from all over the world. The types of cover songs have evolved into trying to cover all the greatest bands of all time."No mean feat.

"We cover the history of rock and it doesn't get old. When people come up to us and say, 'do you have a Queen song?' We get them all covered," Wilson says.

They are regulars at Tapley's, and have been rippling out to other bars from Whistler down to Squamish. Their next shows are on Monday, Dec. 14 at the Dubh Linn Gate and Friday, Dec. 18, at Tapley's.

Making up the quartet are bassist Derrick Stembridge (who performs in another local band, Brother Twang) and French drummer Frankie G.

"It took us six months to find a bassist and the hardest part was finding someone who wasn't transient. We didn't want to put in a year's worth of work and find out we needed someone else," says Hyde.

Wilson says he'd watched Frankie G play at a jam night at the Crystal Lounge.

"I thought he was a good drummer. He's got chops. Then I saw him another night at Moe Joe's and I said I wanted to put the band together. He told me about Cam," Wilson says.

"We went to a jam night at Dusty's and gelled."

One rarity for a Whistler band is that they've never changed over, the four guys have stayed a tight unit.

Lately they've been writing their own music and the following they have built up playing covers has transferred over.

"We are now able to throw some of our original music into our sets and it's so great. We've had a strong response," says Wilson.

"We sneak them into the mix with our regular performance and you see people singing the words. And they've been asking who does that song because it's such a great song, and it is one of ours."

The pinnacle of 2015 was getting on stage in Pemberton as part of the battle of the Sea to Sky bands. It was the first opportunity to play one of their songs on a larger scale.

"We submitted a song for the competition and we were one of the eight finalists. We went up. The battle of the bands was a surreal experience. So good," Hyde says.

The next step is the recording studio. Wilson started off building the music, but now everyone is keen to take part.

"It seems better that way. They make my ideas completely different and it's working out so well," Wilson says.

Red Chair's website, by the way, is www.redchairmusic.ca.



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