Rooftop Static is Winnipeg’s premier soulful rock jazz ensemble made up of an eclectic group of misfits. While their grooves are intuitive, the story of their creation is not so straight forward and rather unlikely. Here is the cold hard truth about this six-piece outfit taking 2017 by storm:
2014: Guitarist Russ Chan (Blueprint Gallery, One Day in September) was taking a long moisturizing break from his nude car wash franchise “Undercarriage”. To his surprise, the business model was not as successful as he hoped and he was enveloped in daydreams of a musical project where he could exercise his arpeggiated mastery, ska-influenced rhythms, and general soul chops. The short break had come to an end and after the brief reprieve. the low end sound of the next vehicle entering the wash announced his return to work. In the stall was no car, nor truck that stood before him, but the stoic Patrick Farr (20 years as the “okayist bassist in the City of Winnipeg”) grooving phat-bass rhythms that shook the structures. Pat and his bass came in for a quick wash before he returned crumbling Winnipeg’s fragile, potholed roads into landscapes that resembled Mars with his delicious low-end. Gazes exchanged. Russ exited the building with Pat knowing a divine pairing had occurred. The two began “The Recruitment”.
Mission #1 – More Rhythm
Hot summer days trawling the streets for flavourful percussion took its toll. Pat and Russ took a BDI ice cream break and heard faint sounds of spoons clanking against empty containers and the bridge. The sound emanated from professionally trained contemporary dancer Kevin Cote (One Blue Door, One Day in September) and the flair and energy to which he approached the craft instantly sealed the deal. Coined “The Man with a Thousand Hands”, Kevin brought an energetic international vibe to what was forming to be a rock/jazz band. However, no rest for the wicked. The band’s sound called for more.
Mission #2 – The Vocalist
Two weeks later, walking past the infamous Albert Hotel, the trio was sure they heard the sounds of two cats fighting each other to the death. The shrills varied from brash delivery to soulful, deliberate reflection and they knew, this was no ordinary feline. Lying in a dumpster, the group found the crooning of Scott Hinkson, shamelessly pining to the moon. With a shower and a couple slaps to the face, this could be their man! After a short stint of speech therapy, Hinkson proved he could string together melodies and honest lyrics that suited the band’s inclination towards older sounds with a modern spin. Convincing Hinkson he could sleep in the rehearsal space stairwell, the band had enticed their new front man.
Mission #3 – The Drummer
After posting several kijiji ads for drummers, xylophone players, and private physicians to deal with the increasing number of band health issues, Russ and team received an unusual response from Adam McColl indicating he would like to trade his drumming services for two hours of cleaning in a storage locker every Sunday night. After an intense band meeting, it was decided that the trade would be made and the master of the beats delivered an audition that dropped jaws. Adam, preferring to be called “Tyler” when on stage, attacked the skins and cymbals with a soulful, yet disciplined approach that locked the project into grooves that hypnotize. The band takes turns cleaning his storage locker every Sunday and have signed appropriate non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements to protect Adam from what occurs in that space.
The band, thinking their lineup was complete, settled on a sound that fused rock/pop/soul and jazz in a surprisingly complementary way. Their ability to execute covers from the Police, Bill Withers, Tears for Fears, and others describe a 70’s, 80’s influence that are tainted only by their own experiences. Rehearsing atop the iconic Grain Exchange building, one night during a break outside on the roof, the Winnipeg downtown skyline smiled and winked at the band. The project quickly settled in on ROOFTOP STATIC as its handle.
Elated by a great session, the 5-piece left rehearsal one frosty January night to the sounds of a man pleading for help. There, mere feet away from their cars, was Liam Lewis-Sing, impaled in the torso by a rogue icicle falling from the city skylines. Before help was administered, a question was forwarded by Russ. “Can you play?”, he asked inquisitively. eyebrow raised. Liam whispered something unrecognizable. Hinkson and group leaned in and Liam shuddered ”Retro blend…retro blend”. The group paused…what gifts did fate just bear? Adam unveiled a surprising amount of proficiency delivering emergency first aid to Liam with a handful of snow, a Tim Horton’s cup, and a dirty Metro paper to stop the bleeding. Indebted to the band, Liam recovered (minus one kidney), and filled out the band as keyboardist/background vocals, rounding out and solidifying the band’s overall unique sound.
With over 15 originals, a half dozen covers, and 20 live performances tested throughout 2015 and 2016, ROOFTOP STATIC sets its heights on releasing its debut full length album in spring 2017 and spreading their soulful rock/pop/jazz blend to festivals, bars, and to an increasing amount of audiences.