Red Hot Riot: Winnipeg Rock Outfit Attica Riots Burns Bright and Plays Loud

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Attica Riots performing with the WSO at Manitoba Live on Canada Day at The Forks (Photo: J.Senft Photography)

Manitoba Music has teamed up with Fresh Radio for a new monthly spotlight on local music, dubbed Manitoba Fresh to introduce audiences to a stellar slate of buzzworthy local artists emerging on the Canadian music scene. Featuring on-air segments and online performances via Fresh Radio, and in-depth band profiles right here on, Manitoba Fresh continues this month with emerging dance rock outfit, Attica Riots. Tune in to 99.1 Fresh Radio and stay tuned for so much more...

By Jillian Groening

Whether it’s the driving beat of a song, the electric energy of a rolling storm or the sweat-inducing rush of an action movie airplane take-off (with Tom Cruise clinging on, of course), momentum is a thrilling and satisfying force. For Winnipeg-based dance rocker outfit Attica Riots, it’s been the quickening pulse of the last two months.

After building a beat-happy fan base playing bar gigs around Winnipeg’s downtown, singer and guitarist Bobby Desjarlais, guitarist Kyle Erickson, and drummer Anders Erickson began to realize they had something good going on.

Adding fuel to the flame, the group welcomed members keyboardist Rick De Moissac, bassist Matt Filopoulos, and singer/guitarist Jamie Buckboro to create an even bigger sound and a more electric stage presence. The professional party rockers were ready to take their converse-tapping, black pant-shaking show on the road.

From Canadian Music Week (CMW), to NXNE, BreakOut West, Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival, and Jansport’s Bonfire Sessions, the rock rioters took 2015 by storm. Not to mention making close friends with the Trans-Canada highway.

“We travelled a ton, we played all the festivals, but the local highlight was being able to play Canada Day with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra,” Desjarlais says of the band’s show at The Forks’ annual celebration. “That was such a high watermark for me. It was really enjoyable.”

Gaining a prime spot for one of Winnipeg’s largest downtown festivals was the ideal kick-off to a heavy and exhausting summer. It’s gotta be nice to have memories of seeing your jams printed out in sheet music when hustling to perform three shows within 24 hours.

“I really loved touring as much as we did but the hardest part is definitely the lack of sleep,” Desjarlais explains. “It was ridiculous but you just muster it up ‘cause you gotta perform! You just have to be smart about when you can rest and really make sure that you do.”

Learning the tricks of the touring trade was a necessity when playing on the same festival bill as well-seasoned acts such as Born Ruffians and Tanya Tagaq. There’s also no time for burnout when getting off the road means going back to work.

“It is kind of nice to get home and be a normal member of society again,” Desjarlais says with a chuckle. “Back to being a son and a boyfriend.”

With a highly anticipated debut album release announced for 2016 and loads of new tracks buzzing around their brains, the cool guys of Attica Riots returned home and fell right back into creation mode. Splitting their time between prepping for a hot spot on M for Montréal’s stacked roster and a performance at the 103rd Grey Cup Festival with The Sheepdogs and The Trews, as well as recording demos at a secluded cabin on Little Saskatchewan River, it doesn’t appear that life is going to slow down anytime soon.

“It’s amazing how every time we go somewhere we seem to get a new gig of a slightly higher profile,” Desjarlais explains. With festival shows and industry connections aligning with the swiftness of chimps swinging on vines, Attica Riots appears to be in the right scene at the right time. “It seems to be going well and people keep calling us to work so I like it.”

While recordings for their first album are ready and waiting, the tracks for the second record are already well on their way. With three writers in the group, there’s hardly ever a case of writer’s block. Falling into line with their steady performance schedule and solid song writing system, the yet to be released album even seems to have a pulsing energy behind it.

Jansport used the group’s bopping “Love Sunshine & Hysteria” for their promotional video and the hit “Give It To Me” is being played as a placement.

“It’s kind of nice to release some tracks on the radio so we can test its buoyancy,” Desjarlais explains. “So we can see it it floats on its own.”

With the hype building, Desjarlais keeps a steady frame of mind by focusing on where he sees the band in the future and how he would like to make their success grow.

“I want to stay on this track and to continue to get busier and busier,” Desjarlais says. “There’s been that slow burn but it seems like we keep making nice, natural steps. We keep getting a little bit better slots and a little bit better gigs. A little bit better everything.”

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