With a brand new album and a Vancouver Island Music Award nomination, local indie folk band West My Friend is going places, and using its own power to get there.
Place is the new album and its being launched at a CD release party at Hermann’s Jazz Club on April 5. The event is set to be a community affair, as the band is staging a cycle-to-show ridealong as part of the festivities.
The band will be biking to the gig from Fernwood Square and is inviting anyone coming to the show to join them. They will be taking the scenic route and picking up cyclists along the way, swinging through Cook Street Village, Irving Park in James Bay and Centennial Square, before heading to the show.
“There will be much joyous noise and sparkles I’m sure, regardless of how many people are there,” lead singer and guitarist Eden Oliver said. “And bubbles.”
The CD release as a whole has been ordained “Revolutions,” alluding to the revolution of records, of bicycle wheels and, at a grassroots level, of communities.
To save up money for studio time, West My Friend appealed to the community to chip in. The band launched an Internet campaign centering around a series of videos paying homage to Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues. In the clips friends of the band introduce themselves and ask for donations via posters while the band jams out in the background.
Oliver said that the band managed to raise a few thousand dollars toward recording costs and has repaid the debt through free house gigs, signed CDs, high fives and vegan meals. The idea ended up fostering a community like spirit to the album too.
“I feel like people know about us a lot more after that,” Oliver said. “Which is almost better than making all that money.”
The band previously released an EP but headed into two local studios with two production pros to lay down its first full length release. Producer and sound engineer Adrian Dolan (The Bills, Mark Atkinson) cut the album and Juno-award winner David Travers-Smith (The Wailin’ Jennys, Oh Susannah) mastered it from his homebase in Toronto.
“I feel like it’s a really good representation of our sound,” Oliver said. “I feel like Adrian really understood what our sound could be like when recorded and I feel like it’s a really surprisingly cohesive whole for a first album.”
Playing acoustic guitar, mandolin, upright bass and accordian, with the new addition of drums on the album, the band members bring both an academic knowledge of music and a penchant for pop to a folk base. Oliver said the band describes itself as indie roots music but also enjoy Dolan’s appraisal of “a pop band disguised as a folk band.”
A string quartet from UVic will also be joining the band for a few tunes during the show and Victoria-based country/folk sisters Carli and Julie Kennedy, who are nominated for a Vancouver Island Music Award for best live act, will be opening.
West My Friend is up for a Vancouver Island Music Award itself, in the best song category, for their track Saturn Maybe featured on the new album.
The bike ride starts at 6 p.m. on April 5 and the show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Long & McQuade and Larsen Music at $8, or $10 at the door at Hermann’s Jazz Club.