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Interview with Eclectic Revival
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Chris: I’ve always lived music…I mean, who doesn’t? It gets inside you, moves you, helps you express emotion. That’s what got me into music. It was to express my feelings in a way that no one could tell me was wrong. If I wasn’t in music, I’d be doing full-time construction/renovation work
Nick: I have always been a musical person. I was sung to, and sang along as a child. I did many school assemblies and whatnot, and at age 11 joined a community theatre group quite by accident and chance. That is likely what I would be doing if music hadn't taken me first. As it is, it is only due to acting that I met Chris Kerba, and the other founding members of Eclectic Revival at a renaissance faire in Hamilton in summer of 2005. That summer wound up being a pivotal moment is all of our lives.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Chris: I love cooking. I’ve worked in the culinary industry, as most performers have at one point or another, and fell in love with cooking in general. Creating a meal out of base ingredients, feeding people. I love it.
Nick: When I'm not playing music, I enjoy watching television, movies, and online content (currently into D&D let's plays, Dimension20/), playing video games, and of course listening to music. That's what I enjoy. What I frequently DO when I'm not making music, is work. At a day job. Which puts a damper on all that stuff up there I said I liked. So, yeah.
How long has your band been around?
Chris: We formed ER in the summer of 2005 at a Renaissance Festival in Hamilton, so 18 years now.
Nick: Eclectic Revival started at a jam session at an an after party for the cast and assorted others of The Royal Abingdon Faire, in 2005 in Burlington. Just a bunch of musically inclined goofballs playing whatever was around. Chris and I and a few others enjoyed that so much we stayed meeting to jam weekly, then stayed sourcing a few places to play. The rest is 18 years now of history.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Chris: Currently based in Hamilton. The diversity in Hamilton, in every aspect, helps a lot on terms of musical inspiration. The despair, the hope, prosperity, community effort it’s all there.
Nick: I was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario and have since moved to Hamilton with my wonderful wife. I love both cities dearly, and both have a wonderful performing arts scene built in. Music more so for Hamilton. Brampton has the theatre and comedy side of things. Both were great places for an artist to learn their trade.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Chris: We tried to find a name that would suit the band. ‘Eclectic’ kept coming around because of the various styles of music we’d play, and ‘Revival’ because we were playing covers. Old stuff given new life. It means a lot to me, personally. I’m not sure if that’s just nostalgia or something more but it describes us perfectly.
Nick: OK. So by my recollection the original band consisted of Chris Kerba (90's alternative, rock, grunge king), myself (pop punk/punk/ska/classic rock), our drummer at the time (top 40 pop all day every day), our bass player (METAL, METAL, METAL), and our saxophone player ( big band swing, concert orchestra, jazz) and we all met at a renaissance faire where we had to sing old folk/celtic/ traditional music. As a result, we wanted to, and wound up playing a bit of everything. Thus Eclectic (meaning many, or varied unusual sources). Revival comes in because we could all agree that one thing we definitely enjoyed doing was reviving the old music that we were raised on. Old songs about war, and love, sailing and drinking, fights and frolicking all available. And no one had a better idea than eclectic revival, so we went with that.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Chris: The Grey Cup in Vancouver was probably my most memorable experience. The shenanigans on the way to the event while driving with our sax player Kevin, and Nick, our singer. When we got there, the crowd was so into what we were doing that they were jumping around. Because the buildings out there are designed to withstand earthquakes, my mic was bouncing all over the place and everyone was loving life. It was an incredible experience
The most memorable show for me, was a small show in Brampton, at the Cyril Clark Library theatre for the 10th anniversary of the band. An intimate, 180 odd seat theatre, packed with every friend, family member, companion, casual acquaintance, and well- wisher we'd ever met. A lovely evening was had by all.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Chris: I’ve played so many venues since 2005 that there’s not one that really screams out to me as the favourite.
Selfishly, I’d love to play the budweiser stage in Toronto. I’ve seen so many shows there and every time I do, I keep thinking “I need to be there!”
Nick: My favourite place to play, sadly closed now, was the Rebel's Rock Irish Pub in Hamilton. The owners of that pub were the first to hire us to play a full night, based solely on a single song, half heard through bathroom floorboards. Love you Kate and Troy! For many years Eclectic Revival had graced their stage (and hallway, and floor, and tables, and occasionally on the bar) and considered it the band's home. Nowadays the furniture has made it's way to the Miner's Tavern in Cobalt, as have we.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Chris: Foo Fighters…hands down…to day that I shared a stage with Dave Grohl would be mind blowing to me. He was part of a musical revolution in Nirvana, his stories, his success with FF is legendary and on top of it all, from all accounts I’ve heard, he’s just a nice guy too.
Nick: Jack Black & Kyle Gass of Tenacious D, alongside Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, Dan Mangan, Childish Gambino, Adele, Lewis Capaldi, Frank Turner, Queen Latifah, Shaggy, And Sting. It'd be weird, but it'd be my particular brand of an amazing experience.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Chris: Be yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you “that’s not your sound” or that you’re not doing it right. Be genuine and tenacious.
Nick: To those who would play music, do so. Find some friends, sing some songs, learn an instrument, write a few words, then figure out how to sing them. Do that more. The important part is, enjoy the attempt. Making music while keeping a job to survive can be difficult. Be patient, and ready to accept opportunities as they come. And if you truly enjoy it, you have to enjoy the attempt. There is unfortunately no guarantee of success, so play shows, sing songs, and write beautiful music for as long as it makes you happy.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Chris: You ARE good enough.
Nick: WATCH OUT FOR TABLE SAWS!!!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Chris: Sailing Home will always have a special place in my heart. I wrote it with my cousin and what started as just another ballad became a more meaningful piece to me. It was the last song my grandfather heard before he passed away. Then his brother, then my grandmother. I’ve had fans call and ask me to dedicate it to their lost loved ones. It’s really turned into something special for me and I love playing it to say goodbye. As much as anybody ever wants to say goodbye.
Nick: Life & Love will always hold a special place in my heart, as it is the first song I wrote the lyrics to completely. It represents a shift in mindset that was very hard fought. If you tell yourself that you will be no good at writing, you won't write. If you don't write, you can't be a writer, or lyricist, or whatever. This was myself finally getting over my own ego and starting to put real thoughts and feelings on the page.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Chris: I’m a big fan of ballads…I don’t know why, I guess they suit my voice. I love playing sailing home, st Patrick’s Battalion, back home in Derry, Northwest Passage, Carry Me Home…
Requests…we’ll always get Home For A Rest, 500 Miles, Ordinary Day, Wagon Wheel, Wonderwall. When we start playing them, cause you know we will, they get requested at EVERY SHOW - the audience lights up and it changes the energy and we rock it out as much as the audience does.
Nick: As stated before, we are an east coast band from the east coast of Hamilton, a traditional band that tends to buck tradition. As such, we get a lot of requests, and a lot of joy, out of playing all the old sailing and drinking tunes. Some favourites of mine to play with the band are Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers, Heave Away by The Fables, 500 Miles by The Proclaimers, Ordinary Day by Great Big Sea, and of course Home For A Rest by Spirit Of The West.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Chris: When it comes to lyrics…I try to stay away. I’ll have a minor adjustment to a line here or there. I’ve never fancied myself a lyricist. Typically, Nick comes up with the lyrics and then I ask him what feeling he's going for. From there, I’ll try to emote that feeling musically.
Nick: My particular forte is lyrics. Chris Kerba takes care of most of the music for me. I've always had a strong relationship with words. Particularly in the English language. Occasionally a spark of inspiration will strike. A neat little lyric, maybe a cool rhyme, or some interesting alliteration. I write those down, or record them into my phone for later. When I'm writing, I use them like puzzle pieces. Some of them fit together, some belong together. Some when put together give you enough of an idea of the piece, that you can immediately write the rest. Some sit for a while, waiting for their time. I take inspiration from all sources within my life. Friends, family, work, media, it all has a place in the narrative.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Hope and self worth.
Chris: We’ve never been the band to cut down other people. We’d rather everyone elevate everyone else. The world’s going to hell in a hot dog bun and we’re all on this spinning rock together. Be kind to each other and help where you can. Life’s too short not to.
Nick: I tend to prefer a message of unity, compassion, and humanity. I truly love and value my fellow humans, and wish to see people become more kind and considerate on a personal, and societal level. A lot of my writing is focused on the micro scale of my own life, but tends to wander into what I think are shared struggles, that many people are facing today. Overall, my message is "be sociable!"
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Chris: All the time. Sometimes it’s how a song is played, where the breaks should be, where we’re stopping for dinner… but it’s like a family. You’re going to have disagreements, it’s how you handle them that makes it all worthwhile. Go for a walk, take some time to yourself. Take a breath and then get back to business. You’re not going to win every argument. Sometimes you’ve got to put your pride in your pocket and go along with what everyone else is saying.
Nick: Chris Kerba and I have had disagreements to no end over our 17 year friendship/partnership/one-upmanship. Ideally, we tend to discuss it rationally and see if we can come to an agreement, or at least a compromise. After that, we typically go for name-calling, followed by slap-fighting, a little light wrestling, a short foot race, and then coffee and cake for after.
The important point isn't whether you agree or disagree, it's whether you can continue working with them. Sometimes you have to let some small things slide, so the bigger things can work as they need to. Sometimes a way forward for all, is preferable to your way forward. Sacrifice where you can. Remember. You're on the same team.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Chris: We’re playing at the 2023 Grey Cup festivities in Hamilton which is going to be incredible as we’ll be releasing a new single at the event called Try Again. It's one of our new songs that I’m incredibly excited about.
Nick: Our biggest best show, that we look forward to each year, is The Atlantic Schooners room at the Grey Cup Festival. Frequently the best party to be had at the festival, Eclectic Revival is proud to be the unofficial, official band for a team that is undefeated. Because they aren't technically in the league. Yet. We’ll be at the Hamilton Convention Center this year I believe. November 16-19.
Eclectic Revival has been gathering and polishing a few things we've had on the back burner for a while now. Our new single "Cry Havoc" is the first of many new songs coming within the next little while, leading up to our "Weight Of The World". Look out for that! It's going to be fantastic!
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Chris: We’re on all of them, I think. Facebook is our central hub of communication, just because it’s where we’ve been the longest. We do have tiktok, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify too.
Nick: Website: www.EclecticRevival.ca
Facebook: Eclectic Revival
YouTube: Eclectic Revival Music