My Son The Hurricane: Sometimes Size Does Matter
BY DAVID DeROCCO
The members of My Son The Hurricane have something to “smile” about these days. It could be their new album, Is This What You Want? It could be the fact the first single, “Smile,” is helping broaden awareness of the band thanks to airplay on Southern Ontario radio, including 97.7HTZ-FM and Edge 102.1. Or maybe it’s just the fact that the 14 members of My Son The Hurricane – you read that right, 14 members – have managed to survive seven years playing their own unique hybrid of New Orleans-infused “brass-hop” music.
Whatever the reasons are for their current state of happiness, drummer and co-founder Danno O’Shea says that the mood in the band is so good right now it’s got this Niagara-based collective thinking of expanding their musical and geographical horizons south of the border.
“This year has been the most successful year for us so far,” said Danno, calling in from the van while on the road to Sudbury to win over some new fans. “That must mean that next year we’ll have to hit the road and go to the States. Maybe it’s time to break out. It’s always nice to play for your hometown, which we’ve done. And always nice to play for your home province, which we’ve done. The next step is moving on from your home country. We have aspirations and you can’t rest. The band’s always got to be on the run, you’ve got to be going after something.”
What the members of My Son The Hurricane were going after when this unlikely mob of musicians first came together was simply to have some fun playing music. Since then Danno and his bandmates -- Jacob Bergsma (vocals), Sylvie Kindree (vocals), Alex Duncan (trombone), Justin Williams (trombone), Abe Bergsma (guitar), Ewan Divitt (trumpet), Troy Dowding (trumpet), Cooper Hannahson (percussion), Fraser Gauthier (bass), Anthony Rinaldi (tenor sax), Phil Skladowski (baritone sax), Jess Gold (percussion) and Chris Sipos (guitar) – have discovered there’s actually an enthusiastic audience for a well-played, high energy fusion of funk, jazz, brass, hip-hop and modern rock.
“I think originally our plan had been let’s just do a couple shows, and bring some New Orleansy-style music to Southern Ontario,” said O’Shea, a full-time musican who’s spent time touring the States in other bands. “And the time we weren’t aware of any similar type of music going on. We didn’t have any thought of recording. It really just took off and the response was so good we decided to stick around for half a decade.”
Hailing from Niagara and Toronto, My Son The Hurricane got some unexpected traction when their sophomore release Cashing A Deadman’s Cheque (featuring U.S.S. frontman Ash Buchholtz and three-time Juno/Polaris nominee D-Sisive) was featured on CBC Radio One and Much More Music. The band started ripping up the festival circuit with breakout performances across Ontario. With the release of Is This What You Want?, the band is once again flirting with unexpected but long-overdue radio airplay.
“A six-piece horn-line plus a full six-piece rockband plus one crazy MC and a bunch of guest singers equals a whole lot of awesome,” said Paul Morris, Music Director and on-air host at 97.7HTZ-FM who featured the new track on his “Bands on The Verge” segment. “What looks like a trainwreck on paper is a wonderful mix of hip-hop, funk, soul and rock. They’re so much fun, both live and on record.”
While the airplay has been a bonus, O’Shea said it was not something the band was intentionally courting with the release.
“That wasn’t even a consideration. Besides that’s why we sardonically titled it Is this What You Want?. When you have a big band that doesn’t fit into a specific genre I think that a lot of people just actually have an idea that you should do this or you should do that. It wasn’t necessarily a shot at radio. Radio has just never been on the radar to start with. The radio is nice, because it exposes you to new people who may not know you, and it makes your Uncle Steve think you’re a rock star. I’ll take all the Uncles Steves we can get.”
The seven tracks on the new release were recorded at Phase One Studios with engineer Jeff Pelletier (Big Sugar, Ludacris), which may have given tracks like "Smile" a more radio-friendly sound. O’Shea says Pelletier was just the guy the band needed behind the board for this recording.
“Jeff is just the kind of guy who knows when something sounds bad, or that you’re just too emotionally attached to something that’s not good. He’s just the perfect listener, and that’s what we needed, someone with those kind of ears that can really hear the whole thing and how each instrument fits into the bigger picture.”
With the album done the band is back doing what is loves to do most: hitting the road and playing to intimate audiences like the one that will no doubt be packing the dance floor at St. Catharines’ L3 Nightclub June 24th. O’Shea admits that staging a 14-piece band in a small club presents its challenges, but it’s something the band has come to enjoy.
“L3 is a stage that is very good to use. We don’t being shoulder to shoulder sometimes. You share some sweat and that’s how it is. It’s still more comfortable than being out in the crowd. L3 is nice for me because I have my own little lighthouse vantage point. Basically it’s a big ole rhythm section with two trombones, three trumpets, three sax, a sousaphone and a rapper and a singer. So it’s a big crazy live show. It’s not a sit around and watch show, it’s a moving show.
To hear their music visit https://mysonthehurricane.bandcamp.com.