Nova Scotia rock band The Town Heroes is carrying a torch of sorts. The torch of rock and roll. As musical trends and fads have come and gone over the last 15 years, the “traditional” music industry has essentially crumbled in the age of file sharing, social media and the migration towards all things digital.
But in a “meet the new boss; same as the old boss” kind of moment in Truro last week when the group opened for Canadian classic rock band Trooper, The Town Heroes – performing at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge on Saturday evening – proved that rock and roll remains a vital part of the lives of multiple generations of music fans.
“Going into that show with Trooper, we weren’t really sure how we would be received,” Town Heroes guitarist-vocalist Mike Ryan says. “But we were given an incredible reception. It was a great night all around.”
Mike says the experience was vastly different from the time the group opened for April Wine at Saint John’s Imperial Theatre a number of years ago. Although no fault of either band, The Town Heroes were not announced as the openers. When the venue’s house lights went down, the crowd expected to see April Wine walk on stage. Instead they got The Town Heroes, prompting a vulgar line of questioning from an audience member not suitable for print.
Nonetheless, The Town Heroes, comprised only of Mike and longtime cohort Bruce Gillis on drums, have soldiered on. And the world is a better place for it.
At the heart of the group is a deep friendship between its members, one that betrays the notion that The Town Heroes are making music with the specific purpose of making it big.
Last October, the group released their sophomore record Sunday Movies, an album packed with simple, catchy songs, many of which could be this century’s next great Canadian music anthem.
Thanks in part to the release of a pair of music videos from the album, it should be little surprise then that the album has been connecting so well with audiences. In addition to having won a pair of East Coast Music Awards earlier this year, the band is going into this November’s Music Nova Scotia Awards with five nominations.
“We are putting in as much work as we can, doing something we love. We want to keep going and creating new music and maybe inspire others in the process. It is a tough go being a musician these days. To receive that recognition from our peers and from Music Nova Scotia is a pat on the back that lets us know that others are appreciating what we are doing.”
It is not only Canadian audiences that have shown an appreciation for The Town Heroes. In the week following their Metro Moncton show, the group will be jetting across the ocean to Europe for a month-long tour.
Although it will not be their first trip overseas, their upcoming European tour will be the most extensive jaunt that the group has undertaken. With festival appearances at Germany’s Reeperbahn Festival and the United Kingdom’s Great Escape Festival under their belts, The Town Heroes are looking to convert the uninitiated into full-blown fans.
“We love playing here in Canada. It is also nice to be getting our feet wet in new places as well though. The fact of being in another country and having the chance to be immersed in their culture is an amazing opportunity,” Mike says.
“Seeing the way that music you wrote at home can affect people half a world away can be a powerful experience. We had toured Finland in January 2013 and played a really great show at a venue in Hamina. Bruce and I walked off stage and were approached by a guy who, in somewhat broken English, told us that our music made his eyes rain. That was one of the best and most powerful things we have ever heard from anyone. It is experiences like those that help affirm what we are doing.”
What: The Town Heroes with guests
When: Saturday Sept. 20, 9:00 p.m.
Where: Plan b Moncton, 212 St. George St., Moncton