INTERVIEW: Band of Rascals hits the road with Tempest

Q&A with B.C. group Band of Rascals

Photo by Colin Smith Photography
Photo by Colin Smith Photography

To make one Band of Rascals, first take four friends from Vancouver Island, soak in southern blues, lose the shoes, add shrieking guitar riffs and a note of cowbell, and then cram the whole lot into an RV with no AC for a summer of cross-country touring. Pound with drums until you have an EP and the soon-to-be-released Tempest. The result: one hell of a show.

Coming out of Cowichan Valley, Band of Rascals is Sam Trainor on vocals and guitar, Malcom Owen-Flood on lead guitar, Sean ‘The Noche’ Marcy on bass guitar and Marcus Manhas on drums. Like the landscape of Vancouver Island, their songs oscillate between high-energy crests and subdued, introspective tracks like “Held in Thought”. While the group has been gaining momentum since the release of their self-titled EP in 2014, they’ve retained their gritty charm. Band of Rascals haven’t perfected their act, but that’s because they’ve only started exploring what’s possible.

Now, the band is taking their “nuts and bolts” rock and roll across the country, and gearing up for the release of their new album Tempest on October 6th. Vancouver Weekly sat down with all four members of the band as they geared up for the tour.

Vancouver Weekly: What’s been the highlight of your summer of touring?

Sam Trainor: Minnedosa! Rockin’ the Fields of Minnedosa, Manitoba.

Malcom Owen-Flood: We were right after I Mother Earth and right before Big Wreck. It was an insanely awesome festival.

VW: Did you guys drive out east in someone’s stinky van?

MO: We have an RV…it might be the only reason we don’t end up hating each other on the road. It has curtains, so you can get a bit of space.  

VW: Have you given your RV a name?

ST: I call it Babe sometimes, but these guys don’t like that.

MO: Yeah, I don’t like that.

VW: Babe? Like the pig?

ST: She is a pig on gas, but we love her, she takes care of us.

VW: So you guys grew up in Cowichan Valley?

ST: I lived on a boat in Genoa Bay until I was ten. Then I moved to Cobble Hill and these guys were up there in the hills, waiting for me.

VW: When is the best time to listen to Band of Rascals?

ST: We’ve got songs to cover the first date, the night out, and then when you’re too drunk later and you get in a fight. We got it all.

VW: What does “nuts and bolts” rock mean?

Marcus Manhas: It was Jesse Roper that coined that. At the time, it meant straight-ahead, foot-stomping rock, but now…I think we’ve branched out. When you listen to us, you’ll hear some soft stuff, some hard stuff. Still rock at the core.

MO: We are guitar, drums, and bass. We don’t have any backing tracks, no electronics.

ST: Drums, bass, screaming guitars and a little tambourine.

MO: Don’t forget the cowbell.

ST: Every great rock and roll band needs one. Usually we have our buddy, Dean, he’d whack the cowbell and do a backflip, no matter how drunk he was. He bailed off the stage one time, but he rose up like a hero and went right back to hitting that cowbell.

VW: What’s the next direction for you guys?

ST: Keep giving it shit and see what happens.

MM: We have a loose plan, but we don’t try to do anything. We’re writing new songs, sometimes in the same room, sometimes doing our own thing and coming back together. The process is always changing.

VW: You’re about to release your first full-length album, Tempest— what does that title mean?

MO: It’s the calm before the storm. A lot of hard work, and now it’s hitting.

VW: What is the eye of the storm, is it your single “Holler”?

Sean ‘The Noche’ Marcy: We’ve gone places we haven’t gone before with this new album. There’s some tracks that are so hard-hitting and I’m super proud of like “Control”.

MM: “Control”, was the first song where we got the drums down and I think that came through: everyone was excited to record it. It was loud right away.

ST: While we were in the studio, at the end of every tune we’d have a glory listen. It was Eric Ratz, our producer’s, thing. “Control”, was the first, after we got the drums and bass down. You could hear it three miles away.

SM: And then there’s “Fell Into the Love of You”, which is the complete other end of the spectrum.

ST: That one took me awhile to write. Malcolm used to be like “What’s going on with that song?” It’s great that it’s coming out on the new record.

VW: Winter plans for the band?

MO: Sounds like we’re going to be touring Tempest and just forcing it into everyone’s earholes. We’ve never toured in the winter so this will be interesting.

VW: Is the RV heated?

ST: There is heat, just no AC. Some loser smashed the AC…wasn’t me.

Band of Rascals hits the road for their Tempest tour on Oct. 6.