By: John Stoesser
Violin crescendos, guitar chords, synth surges, basslines and drum beats pulsate through Ottawa band, Loon Choir’s basement jam space. Surrounded by walls covered in hanging instruments, posters of shows past, shelves filled with extra amps and a carpet of black auxiliary cords snaking towards the P.A., the band conjures the energetic atmosphere of their live show.
Always on the go, Loon Choir is constantly tweaking their live performances.
Earlier this month, Loon Choir took off for a five show mini-tour. The first stop, Sept. 19, was the POP Montreal music festival, where they headlined at L’Escogriffe. This was followed up by four more shows in Toronto, Hamilton, Sarnia and Windsor. Round trip, Loon Choir travelled over 2,000 kilometres in just six days.
“It‘s great playing shows with new bands, that has always been a super perk of touring. And meeting people who offer new perspectives,” says lead singer Derek Wayne Atkinson. “We quite easily buy into and enjoy the transient lifestyle of being on the road.”
Since 2009, Loon Choir has delivered two full-length albums, Expansion Forces (2010), and Fire Poems (2012), with producer James Bunton, of Ohbijou. They have played many shows at popular venues in Ottawa and around Ontario, and toured out to the East Coast.
There have been many highlights for the band, among them playing a set on the opening night of Bluesfest this summer and landing the 25th spot on CBC Radio 3’s top Canadian indie rock chart, R3-30, on Sept.14. “But basically, just being in a band supported by our listeners is a great feeling that never loses its appeal to us,” said Atkinson.
Next on Loon Choir’s plate is an East Coast tour in November and a West Coast tour in 2013. Atkinson said the band is also, “well into the writing process for the next record and will likely beginning recording in 2013.”
“Balancing school and a busy band is certainly not an easy task,” said lead guitarist Dan Larmour, an Algonquin graduate. Larmour said, “Since I was taking music industry arts my homework went very much hand in hand with things we were doing and creating in the band so I’ve been able to bring a lot of new knowledge of the industry as well as technical knowledge to the band’s endeavours.”
It helps to combine interests in order to successfully balance music and school. Bassist Jamie LeClaire, is taking computer systems technology – networking. “Being in a technical program at Algonquin that consistently introduces new devices and technologies, I like to try and bridge the things I learn in school to finding new ways to create music,” said LeClaire.
No matter how busy they get, for the members of Loon Choir it all comes down to song writing and making music said Derek: “Songwriting is therapy, activism and entertainment all at once. We are musicians, so we feel that we are supposed to be active in bands and we are conforming to our own desires every time we pick up an instrument or sing a note.”
Loon Choir’s music is available on their website, http://loonchoir.com/index.html, iTunes.com, amazon.com and CBC Radio 3’s R3-30 chart at http://music.cbc.ca/#/The-/R3-30/.