Kids and Heroes
Steve Rawles/Belvedere: Playing in a band still feels like plan A
Braňo Vartovník 20/02/2021 Rozhovory

Their 2004 album Fast Forward Eats the Tape, recorded in collaboration with Sum 41 producer Blair Calibab, was the sonic thinner of all punk rock clichés. The progressiveness of their songs sitting on the shoulders of the drums, in which even a machine gun would not be enough to breathe, can make a hole in the building at a certain volume and move the neighbors away for a week.

It took only 4 years since their founding to share stages on tour with names such as Bad Religion, Strung Out, Death by Stereo, or Tsunami Bomb. The small band from Calgary, which built its existence at exchange concerts within the local scene, has become a cult of worldwide skatepunk.

For others, Belvedere can be synonymous with immense tenacity, extremely hard work, and inexhaustible energy. The band is releasing a new record this year and their new single doesn’t show any signs of fatigue. Neighbors can pack their suitcases again.

Your new single is carried in the striking and technical atmosphere that has been typical of you throughout the years of your existence. It is admirable that even after such a long time, you really still have a lot to offer on this site. Can we expect the new record to be carried in the same spirit as the single itself?

Thank you for saying.  Yes, this whole album is pretty ripping and fast.  There are some dynamics throughout the 13 songs but I feel like Belvedere fans will enjoy it.  We’re really proud of it.

Will the new album feel the presence of a new line-up? How did the new members influence Belvedere’s musical expression?

We really spent some time looking for the right people to be in Belvedere.  Both Dan and Ryan’s names came up pretty early but we still had a chance to see what others could do.  The biggest thing was to find people that not only could play the old stuff but were keen on writing and contributing new music.  I think fans of the band will hear some difference but in a good way. I think the album is a good progression for the band.

How is the Canadian government coping with the ongoing COVID crisis? Are there mechanisms in place that are designed to help the sectors affected, such as culture itself?

There has been some help to some venues and some help here and there for musicians.  Luckily for all of us, we all have part-time or full-time jobs to keep us afloat.

So Belvedere can not make a living from music alone?

No, we all have other jobs to help with the bills.

When you broke up in 2005, shortly after that, in 2007 you founded This is a Standoff, with which you toured again pretty hard. In the meantime, when you weren’t playing anywhere, did you ever think about quitting music? And did you ever expect Belvedere to return to the stage and to the studio?

Yes, This is a standoff wasn’t really meant to do much but we did tour a lot and put out 3 records.  When Belvedere broke up, I thought I was done with music.  But after a while, I missed playing and started TIAS with John and Graham. I wouldn’t have thought that Belvedere would have gotten back together.  Really we were just going to do 12 reunion shows and that’s it.  But then things went so well, it was decided to continue on and write new music.  I feel very fortunate in my mid-40’s to still be doing this.

Your band was formed in Calgary in the mid-’90s. Can you remember what it was like when you were formed? What was the ordinary life like in your city at the time and what was the life of the punk scene and culture in general?

Yes 1995 was our first year. It was all very exciting and we were a bunch of kids in the local punk scene trying to put on shows and meet bands from different cities so we could play each others shows.  that’s really how we got our start was doing show trades with out-of-town bands. We have a great All ages and Bar Scene in our city so you could play a few shows over a weekend and not burn everyone out.

Where do you get this overwhelming never-ending energy and inspiration to continue what you are doing?

I don’t know…it’s funny to say but playing in a band still feels like plan „A“ to me.  I didn’t really love anything else except playing music, booking shows, booking other bands, and networking with friends.  I’ve done a lot of other things for jobs in my life but touring and music have always soothed my soul.  I hope I never lose that feeling.

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