Toronto Pop Band HIGHS Make Moncton Debut At Plan b On Wednesday

Photo by Geoff Stairs
Photo by Geoff Stairs

Doug Haynes, guitarist for Toronto pop band Highs, knows he has it good; he stumbled upon a near-perfect situation with this band’s lineup.

“Each member of the band has their own strengths. I tend to be rather creative but have next to zero business sense so that’s why that falls to others,” he laughs. “Finding a nice balance of people to be a part of this band was pretty much essential from the get-go.”

Haynes began writing songs at the age of 13, performing with hardcore and heavy metal bands before moving on to the more easily digested pop sounds of Highs. Formed in late 2012, the roots of the band date back to Haynes’s bedroom. There he recorded a trio of demos defined by the driving rhythms, vocals harmonies and catchy guitar riffs that set the stage for their expansion into a five-piece group.

“My experience with prior bands was rather casual,” he says. “In fact, none of them ever got to the point where we were looking to record.”

That all changed with Highs. Haynes says it’s his first group that took themselves and their songs seriously enough to want to commit them to tape in a recording studio.

“We arrived at a point where we thought it would be fun to throw some songs out on the Internet and just let people hear what we are about,” he says. “The songs kind of took on a life of their own and so we decided that it would just make sense to try to keep the momentum going. We had never really encountered, collectively or individually, this sort of thing in the past. We were all quite giddy about it.”

In an effort to capitalize on the buzz earned online, the group wasted little time heading into the recording studio. Together with producer and engineer Steve Major, the band cut their five-track EP, whose songs reflected the concepts of home, growing up and spirituality, in a Toronto-area studio.

“Considering it was our first experience in a professional recording studio, it was great,” Haynes says. “It can be difficult to take the sound you are hearing in your head and get those translated to the finished product but Steve was incredibly patient and allowed for a lot of trial and error to find the sounds that were just right for us.”

One song that has caught on with audiences is the track “Mango.” Although the song was written a couple of years ago, it quickly became a fan favourite. It was, however, a late addition to the group’s self-titled EP. Haynes says that the supporting video for the track centres on a young girl determined to throw herself a party and picking up treats at a local shop that will send attendees on a long-running sugar high.

While admitting the song’s lyrics and the concept behind the video don’t perfectly align, Haynes feels that is one of the best aspects of creating music: making something that resonates with people in different ways.

“On the surface, the video is exploring themes of youth and innocence as well as being comfortable with yourself,” he says. “The song’s lyrics tell a different story, however. With all of my songs, I try to write lyrics that lean more towards the metaphorical side of things to allow people the opportunity to decipher what the lyrics mean to them. I love how songs speak differently to people but also hearing what people take away from something I have written.”

Following the conclusion of their Atlantic Canadian tour in Edmundston on Friday, Highs will get ready to head back into the recording studio to begin making their full-length debut. Haynes is optimistic that the album will see the light of day toward the end of summer or in early fall.

What: HIGHS
When: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 9 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton