Sun, surf and Simpsons 

Hockey Dad preparing for Whistler return

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - DROP THE PUCK Hockey Dad will goon it up at the Garibaldi Lift Co. on Oct. 27.
  • Photo submitted
  • DROP THE PUCK Hockey Dad will goon it up at the Garibaldi Lift Co. on Oct. 27.

Hailing from the beaches of Windang, Australia, ice and pucks probably weren't on Hockey Dad's minds all that much.

But, of course, The Simpsons was.

The duo from the Wollongong suburb named their band for a video game briefly seen in the Season 15 episode "The Regina Monologues" and have subsequently grown an international following. The band is set to release its second album, Blend Inn, and released its first single from it, "Homely Feeling," in their homeland earlier this week. Hockey Dad is heading out on a North American tour to support the new material, beginning in Calgary on Oct. 24, stops here in Whistler at the Garibaldi Lift Company on Oct. 27. They will criss-cross the continent before wrapping in Los Angeles in early December.

Reached at home in Australia, guitarist and vocalist Zach Stephenson says with 28 dates on tap, he and drummer Billy Fleming are conserving their energy before covering thousands of kilometres from the west coast to the east and then back again.

"Right now, we're just in relaxation mode, trying to rest up before we start on the big tour," he says.

Stephenson explains the new record will provide a different sound than the happy, jangly surf-pop listeners were introduced to on 2016's Boronia.

He points out the tones and some of the production on Blend Inn will provide an eerier atmosphere.

"It's a little darker, a little heavier," Stephenson explains. "A lot of the songs aren't the classic, easygoing surf pop as the last record was. There are a few more punk elements in it."

But fans of the easy, breezy tunes shouldn't fear, as Hockey Dad will slot them in alongside the new collection on the tour, with "fresh stuff" planned right alongside the older material.

Stephenson says he and Fleming are currently constructing their set with the new tunes, and while those who have seen them before may notice some shifts here or there, they shouldn't expect a brand-new Hockey Dad by any stretch.

"(The new songs have) gone pretty well and we're planning on incorporating them more into the set," he says. "We haven't had to make any drastic changes or anything, but I think it probably will affect the live show a little bit.

"It'll make it a little heavier, a little scarier, maybe. So far, so good. We haven't had any major troubles with it."

This will be Hockey Dad's second trip to Whistler as they played the GLC last April opening for rockers Dune Rats on an Aussie double bill. Stephenson recalls the show fondly as it provided their tour a little Oceanic oasis.

"We had an awesome time. We had about two weeks in Canada with the Dune Rats travelling around," he said. "The show felt like an Australian show. I think there were more Australians there than anyone else.

"We're eager to come back and see some Australian people."

With a day off between shows after their Alberta tour kickoff, Stephenson hopes to experience a little more of the Coast Mountains than they did in their debut.

"We want to check out Whistler because last time we were there, we weren't able to (see too much)," he says. "We're looking forward to coming back."

As the band prepares to return to Canada and plenty of hockey hotbeds in the U.S., Stephenson is immersing himself in the sport, having recently watched Ice Guardians, a documentary delving into the roles of enforcers like Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, George Parros and former Vancouver Canucks fan favourite Gino Odjick.

While the tour is jam-packed, Stephenson hopes he can take advantage of an opportunity to check out the sport live. Upon being informed that the first Australian-trained player made the NHL this season, as Nathan Walker of Sydney has twice suited up for the Washington Capitals, Stephenson says he's a new fan.

"I'll have to go grab his jersey or something," he says.

Hockey Dad will play the GLC on Oct. 27 with The Velveteins of Edmonton and Frogpile out of Vancouver. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $15 at www.ticketweb.ca.

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