By Jessica Robinson, Staff Reporter
While Laurentian University’s Welcome Back frosh concert headliner Shawn Hook is a West coast Canadian, the opening acts that featured in Sept. 18’s show were two bands made up of musicians born and raised right here in Sudbury, Ontario.
Patrick Wright et Les Gauchistes (made up of Patrick Wright, Marc Fortier, Michel Laforge, Eric Lapalme, and Marc Prud’homme) and Hello Holiday (made up of Jeff Valentini, Jason Hebert, Matt Quesnel, and Emmett Turkington) are both based here in the city, with certain members being current or graduated Laurentian University students themselves. While the sounds and audiences of these two bands may differ slightly, each group cites having grown up in Sudbury as a major influence on their sound.
Emmett Turkington, bassist for Hello Holiday, describes the Sudbury music scene as “a real, living, breathing, sweating thing.”
Jeff Valentini, the band’s frontman, is quick to agree, citing growing up in Sudbury as the way he “learned the ins and outs of the music scene.”
“The scene here was the place where people went to, like, fit in and not really get judged,” explains Turkington. “You didn’t really have to be anyone to go to shows.”
The accessible nature of music and shows helped make local bands a staple in Sudbury culture. And the impact it has on the people who grow up here is nothing if not long-lasting.
Patrick Wright, frontman of Patrick Wright et Les Gauchistes, highlights this as he tells a story of winning a trip to study song-writing in Eastern Canada.
“Sudbury’s known to be a town that’s full of rocks,” Wright laughs. “And I go [out East] and we do this workshop with different photos, and you’re supposed to get a photo and write a song about it. And of all the hundreds and hundreds of pictures, I chose a picture of, well, rocks. So you drive, what, 1600 km and you wind up writing a song about home, you know?”
The song, titled Érodée, ended up the first track on the band’s self-titled EP.
On the same note, Jeff Valentini found himself coming back home after living in Montreal for five years to record what would become Hello Holiday’s full-length album, Nightmares & Fairytales.
“I moved home and turned my mom’s basement into a studio, and with the help of my good friend Zachary Lamothe, we just sort of pieced the ideas together,” he explains.
And while performing at Laurentian’s frosh concert (the concert some of the band members attended just a few years prior during their own frosh years) is certainly a step in the right direction, the bands are nowhere near ready to call it a day.
“We’re aiming to create something that’s, you know, a great album, that people want to take home and listen to from start to finish,” Wright says. “And some of the songs that we played tonight [at the concert] will wind up on it, and others won’t, as is the way it is—but we’re really aiming for that great product that’s really our mark to put on the world.”
And they want Laurentian students to feel just as strongly about Sudbury, both as a music scene and as a city itself, as they do.
“When people say there’s nothing to do in Sudbury, they’re just not paying attention,” notes Jason Hebert, Hello Holiday’s lead guitarist. “(There are) so many awesome things that happen here all the time.”
“Don’t get discouraged because there’s a seven-dollar cover charge,” adds Turkington. “Go, help support either the local bands or the out-of-town bands, and like, go do something cool, go see live music. That’s what I want university kids to do, is go out and explore the city that they live in, not just sit on campus and get their degree.”
–Photo by Kayla Perry