As we drove along in a car stuffed with tripods, lighting equipment and a couple camera cases, I glanced at my phone to review the message for directions. It told me to look out for a big sign that said “Creative Enterprise,” but no such sign existed — not much help when we were already running late.
We drove past a parking lot on the corner of Erb Street and my eyes met a couple of guys in leather jackets and skinny jeans.
They were out for a smoke and one of them was sipping on a Monster.
I knew immediately that we found our rock stars.
The two guys were Oli Duguay and Cam Weber, the singer and lead guitarist of Amberwood — a local Waterloo band that has gained popularity throughout Canada and the UK for their dynamic live performances and unique sound.
After some quick intros, the videographer, photographer and I unloaded the car and followed the band members down the steps into what they called their “jam hall.” The space was rented out by multiple bands, but according to the boys, none of the others spent as much time in there as them.
“We essentially live here,” Weber admitted, as we walked through the door and into the hallway.
The studio was crammed with electric guitars, sound boards, drums and speakers.
“It can get really loud here,” Colin Briscoe said, the bassist, who was sitting on a stool amongst the chaos of equipment.
After the three of them found seats in the tight space, Wes Martin, the drummer and final member of the band, caught the interview right on time.
Briscoe took me back to how everything started.
“Cam and myself were good friends in high school and we decided, for whatever reason, that we should just start making music. We posted a song on Facebook and then Wes, our drummer, saw this video and asked us to jam. We thought he was cooler than us in high school, but we went out and got electric guitars so we could jam with the drummer. We showed up and we had one of those jams where we kind of just walked out thinking, ‘wow, this is awesome; this is exactly what we want to do.’”
Shortly after, Duguay, who also went to the same high school, was called in as a singer and guitarist. The group clicked, but they didn’t start off as exceptional musicians right off the bat.
“We definitely didn’t start off great,” chuckled Duguay.
The four guys didn’t come from any musical background and learned to play and write songs as they experimented and went along.
“When we started that was kind of when we first picked up instruments,” Briscoe explained.
“When we were learning we were learning by writing our own songs. We didn’t even start off doing covers because we weren’t even good enough. We just started writing by doing our own stuff and eventually just learned how to play that way. It’s a little unorthodox but that’s kind of how it ended up being.”
The four members collaborate when it comes to writing music. Since the earliest moments, they’ve found the most inspiration in stadium shows.
As they all agree, their live performance is the biggest selling factor in their music.
“We’ve really upped the show volume,” said Weber.
“We’re trying to play as much as possible, get in front of as many people as we can. We’re going to be all over Canada this year and then we have some UK plans in September as well. Our goal is to just keep writing and just keep playing.”
After they shuffled around and took out some acoustic guitars, the band performed one of their songs: “Excuses.”
The tempo and rigour of the guitars gave an old school vibe, but their harmonious vocals in the chorus paid tribute to their alternative rock sound.
The melody was likable and I could only imagine the energy brought forward during live performances.
After asking them what people can expect from one of their live shows, Weber said it loud and clear: “Sweaty, energetic rock music.”
Amberwood will be playing Jan. 14, next Saturday at Maxwell’s Concerts and Events.
With their lively stage presence, I can only hope it will be one hell of a show.
Photos by Will Huang