It hasn’t always been the smoothest of sailing for Halifax rock band Alert The Medic over the past five years. The high energy, anthemic rockers have encountered a few bumps in the road yet have also had their share of good fortune as well, helping balance the group over the course of the last half decade. From the all too familiar struggles being an independent band to the highs of opening slots for Our Lady Peace and East Coast Music Award nominations, you can’t help but feel they probably wouldn’t re-write history if they were given the chance to do so.
A variety of factors led to the almost four year gap between the release of their self-titled record and 2010’s sophomore record We The Weapon. Alert The Medic’s Ryan MacDonald believes the biggest changes that the band underwent in the time between their first album and the follow-up happened when former member Jonathan MacDougall exited the band in 2007. Though the loss of a band member can sometimes be an insurmountable challenge to any band, Alert The Medic were pushed to the brink before they ultimately found their way back.
“From that point forward, there were definitely changes in the way that our songs were written, in the way business was conducted and in the general vibe around the band,” he explains. “We had shifted to a place where we were more content. It was tough being in a band with the same four guys for approximately six years and then be faced with the costs of operating the band as a business while short a member.”
MacDonald shares that Alert The Medic stumbled upon future band member Troy Arseneault at the 2008 edition of the East Coast Music Awards that were held in Fredericton. MacDonald is not shy about heaping praise upon what Arseneault brought to the band in terms of freshness:
“Troy’s style, professionalism, work ethic and musical ability definitely gave us a newfound confidence and renewed sense of excitement when thinking about what the future could hold for us.”
Having recorded their 2006 debut effort with acclaimed producer Laurence Currie (Sloan, Wintersleep), MacDonald admits there was little hesitation in regards to having Currie at the helm of We The Weapon.
“We had learned so much during the process of recording the first album with Laurence that we worked at integrating lessons in songwriting and song structure into our new material. Needless to say, the process of making a record was much easier the second time around. Laurence has a great ‘mediator’ quality about him, has an excellent musical sense and is never afraid to tell you his opinion. When it comes to making a record, it is absolutely imperative to have someone musically educated who will be critical of your material but once you find that happy medium of where he’s sitting at the back of the rehearsal space, listening and smiling, and giving us the thumbs up, we know were on the right track.”
Indeed, these Nova Scotians are on the right track. With a pair of music videos and a performance during last year’s Music Nova Scotia Awards under their belts, bigger and better things just might be in store for Alert The Medic. Yet for any potential success that may be looming around the corner for the quartet, their down to earth attitude will serve them well.
“We have been fortunate to experience a few memorable accomplishments,” MacDonald says. “There are things that we find extremely important not to forget or take for granted. We are still small town boys and don’t want to become complacent to some of the achievements that most bands just brush off.”
Article published in July 8, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript