Take for instance a seemingly innocent picture taken by Toronto-via-Dartmouth indie pop band The Danger Bees.
While performing in Fredericton sometime around 2009, a member of the group took a picture of a cat drawing done by a child. Although they had initially taken the picture for only their own use, the said cat would go on to grace the group’s pins and take on a complete life of its own with both the band and their fans.
So when the band decided that said cat (known as Wyatt) should grace the cover of its upcoming CD, it began a quest to find the young New Brunswick artist behind the iconic photo.
‘When we were still based out of Dartmouth, we were on a little weekend tour that happened to bring us through Fredericton,’ Danger Bees vocalist David Macmichael recalls. ‘We were cruising around Fredericton and saw a banner advertising a cat show so we went in, were wandering around and our bass player gravitated towards this picture exhibit of cats drawn by kids that was on one of the walls.
‘There was this one picture in particular that he was fixated upon so we snapped a photo of it with one of our phones and found ourselves continually coming back to look at the picture.
The name on the picture said Wyatt so the cat ended up becoming known as Wyatt to us in the band.
‘And then at one point, we were designing a poster and someone came up with the idea of taking the photo of Wyatt and throwing it onto the poster. We didn’t think much of it but then found that people shared the same utter joy for this cat picture that we had.’ Macmichael shares that when discussion around the group’s album cover and artwork started being bandied about earlier this year, the quintet felt that they had no choice other than to useWyatt the cat as their album cover. But before they could proceed with doing so, they decided that it was necessary to track down the young artist behind the photo to ensure that they had their permission to use the picture.
A series of phone calls ultimately put the Danger Bees in contact with the person they were looking for. Macmichael shares that they discovered it was a young boy named Wyatt Pike who had drawn the group’s adopted mascot.
The group reached out to Wyatt’s mother Tracy via e-mail asking for permission to use the photo.
‘We finally connected with the Pike family and they were just thrilled that we had reached out to them. Everybody involved kind of had this ‘Are you kidding me?’ kind of sentiment about it, especially after three years had passed from the time Wyatt drew the picture until the time we finally got in touch with him.’ With permission to use the artwork secured from the family, the Pikes did what any Maritime family would do: they invited the band over for dinner the next time they were passing through town.
‘We went over to their house, had a great barbecue and just hung out. They are an awesome family.’ The road to the Danger Bees upcoming record Wyatt has been a relatively smooth one. Aside from the band undergoing some lineup changes over the course of the last two years, the biggest upheaval was their decision to relocate from Halifax to Toronto. While some bands might feel it more beneficial to establish themselves in a city the size of Halifax as opposed to Toronto, Macmichael says that their decision was based on securing additional opportunities for the group to get its name better known.
‘It is not that we don’t love the Maritimes but for where we are at, it is better to be living in Toronto,’ he says. ‘In Toronto, you can play every night of the week if you wanted to, at a different venue each night and you wouldn’t have played the same club twice for probably two months. Plus, living in Toronto also affords us the opportunity to play a lot of the other cities in Southern Ontario.’
Though he has a convincing argument to call Toronto home, some might counter that The Danger Bees are now a small fish in the very large pond that is T.O. Machmichael doesn’t completely disagree but says that the pros of having relocated to Toronto have, thus far, outweighed the cons.
‘The first couple of years that we were in Toronto were tough but we are now getting to the point in the city where people have heard of us. Hopefully once the record is finally released, we’ll have some more attention come our way. The current lineup of the band is heads and tails stronger than anything we have had in the past. Everyone is really excited about the band and that feels good.’