Mounties not just another ‘jam band’

Photo by Kha Vo
Photo by Kha Vo

A spontaneous encounter at the 2009 Juno Awards between Hawksley Workman, Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat and Ryan Dahle of Limblifter quickly and intensely brought the three seasoned artists together and began a fast friendship.

“[We] were hanging out backstage and really got along as buddies … every time [Workman] came to town, we’d drink wine in his hotel … then one day he said that we should make music together—I thought that we’d work together on his new solo record but then it just ended up becoming a band,” said Bays.

Improvisation quickly became a theme for the Canadian indie-rock band Mounties. Their live shows are unique—the band chooses to improvise onstage, adding in solos and elongating the written songs as they see fit. While this could easily spell disaster for some artists, Mounties and their fans have embraced this new method.

Parker Bossley, bassist from Hot Hot Heat is more involved in the live performances, and describes it as the members possessing ESP — there has never been a moment of miscommunication on stage while performing.

While the band is proud of their improvisation aspect, they aren’t as big of a fan of the labels that come with it.

“I definitely do not want to be known as a ‘jam band,’ but only for one reason: when I think of the word ‘jam band,’ I think of ‘shitty band’ ” Bays said.

‘Shitty band’ s not a label that one could attach to Mounties after their May 8 performance at Starlight Social Club. Playing to a crowded audience, the show was energetic and fun.

Bays ran around the stage, jumping on speakers, putting his face near the audience and almost tilting his keyboard completely over. Workman was equally as passionate as he joked around with the audience and played numerous drum solos.

One of the definite highlights of the night was their performance of their first single “Headphones.” The band appeared to finish the song, but Workman and Bays stayed on stage for a percussion solo while Workman sang, eventually beckoning the other members to join them for one final revival of the chorus.

However, while the improvisation works well for the band, there are numerous other things that would work on stage, but the band doesn’t want to push their limits.

“If I were to all of a sudden drag a song on, these guys would follow. I think the band is so new and we’ve just done one tour so we’re not testing the waters on too extreme of a level … but the fact that the potential is there. These guys are such talented musicians; we know the framework of the song and that’s all we need to know.”

The closeness of the band has a lot of influence on their onstage chemistry. Bossley and Bays spoke about the various projects of the other band members that they are all involved in, as well as numerous upcoming projects and festivals for Mounties such as Hillside Music Festival in late July and Riot Fest in early September.

When asked about the immediate chemistry of the band, Bays had a straightforward answer: “I think because we’re all a bit older… when you’re older you filter out people who are bullshit and these guys aren’t bullshit.”

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