BC’s “Best Teen Band” not just a shadow of their formeer selves
Sometimes, a band’s creative direction takes a life of its own, separate from the intended trajectory. While this creative evolution is an experience many artists share, few undergo truly drastic changes.
Surrey-based band Shadows, however, is one of the exceptions to the rule. Their tale is far more than a graduation from preppy pop-punk to brooding adult alternative. Rather, it’s a far more deliberate transformation.
Initially, and somewhat facetiously, Shadows began as a bass-slapping, horn-popping, wah-flexing, funk band. Unfortunately, as the core of the band would quickly realize, this operation was far too extensive to cater to the lo-fi garage rock tendencies of their beloved Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, or The Arctic Monkeys.
Naturally, after slimming a robust thirteen-person roster to a simplistic four, some major stylistic alterations were about to take place.
“We liked to have fun on stage,” 18-year-old guitarist Dianne Ocampo asserts, as we stand outside the Biltmore Cabaret, undercover from the onslaught of rain. “We feel we can do that with a heavier sound.”
After a second-place finish at the prestigious BC’s Best Teen Band competition, Shadows found themselves working on an EP, but even those songs didn’t do their ambitions justice.
Initially, the band likened themselves to the lighter indie-pop that is a dominant staple in the Vancouver music scene. But clearly, this wasn’t where the band aspired to be, citing inexperience as a source of their tentativeness.
“We were scared of experimenting,” said Ocampo, “but playing live made us more comfortable.” For a band with half its members under twenty and the other half only just reaching that milestone, this early playing experience was vital to their development.
With the addition of Chris Pallot, a drummer harnessing the power of metal and the technical proficiency of jazz, Shadows started to come to form. Finally, there was an appropriate backdrop for the punchy bass of Kyle Turner, the growl and shriek of Ashley Weis, and Ocampo’s scratchy, fuzz-laden guitar work.
Once this finalized line up started to perform for a broader scene, people immediately began to notice.
Shadows became harder hitting, more abrasive, messier, and much angst-ier. This sonic update started to feed the savagery of their live performance, a change that even surprises the band.
“I listen back to those old recordings and think, ‘Is that really us?’” reminisces Kyle.
The band has admittedly discovered some difficulty in finding a like-minded community. As the vast majority of their connections spawn from
[pullquote]”Shadows has an ability to win over even the most stubborn crowds.” [/pullquote] youth competitions like BC’s Best Teen Band, they’ve blossomed into a bit of an odd duck.
The result is playing musical foil to many of the larger West Coast acoustic pop acts.
Coincidentally, as Shadows mentions their stylistic differences from their contemporaries, the headliner for the night wraps their sound check with a blaring chorus of brass instruments and light keystrokes.
The young musicians look to each other awkwardly, acknowledging their struggle to find their place amongst a storm of chamber pop.
Fortunately, Shadows has an ability to win over even the most stubborn crowds.
“If [people] like the indie music they go out for, they also tend to like the nineties grungy rock,” Ocampo theorizes, in an effort to explain the steam they’ve started to pick up.
With their focus intact, Shadows is undoubtedly one of the best young bands in the Lower Mainland. It’s only a matter of time before their audience finds them.