By: Catherine Knott
PORT HAWKESBURY: Alternative rock group The Town Heroes is hitting new heights this holiday season.
The band returned from a whirlwind tour throughout Germany, playing festivals in Hamburg, in addition to performing throughout the Maritimes.
The tour follows the success of their album Everything (will be fine when we get to where we think we’re going) which was released in August. As a tribute to the holiday season, the group has also released a version of the classic carol, “O Holy Night.”
Mike Ryan, lead vocal and guitarist for the group says that he and drummer Bruce Gillis have nostalgia for Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra holiday albums. Growing up in the 1990s, in Inverness and Mabou, this style of music was the epitome of Christmas. They wanted to reinvent the well-known classic with their own feel.
“When you play cover music, people instantly recognize it and they get excited about it,” Ryan says. “Sometimes reinventing a carol can be a little tricky; but it just kind of fell into place, mixing our sound and the old traditions. It’s kind of homage to those music legends.”
This is The Town Heroes fifth tour and the group is enjoying an internal evolution. In November of 2016, the band went from a duo to include a rotation of additional members. Ryan says this has added new dimension to their sound, allowing them to create the Everything album.
“It’s been great to have other musicians preforming with us, being able to use the additional instrumentation. We had a backlog of songs that we just couldn’t play as two people; we were crafted by our limitations which can be good and bad. In a live show, we just didn’t have what we needed to let the music be what we had envisioned.”
The group also makes an effort to maintain a connection with listeners by remaining very visual on social media. One of their favourite ways to reach out is through self-produced music videos and clips which are designed to be uplifting for the viewer. Ryan says this is a personal passion.
“Since I was in high school, I’ve always been trying to make these kinds of videos. Every project I’d ask the teacher if I could do a video instead of the essay… I didn’t really realize this was a continuation of my adolescence until now…”
He adds the group has received a great deal of positive feedback on-line.
“We have a laugh making them; but we get a lot of messages from people saying how much they appreciate the videos, that some clip made them smile and they needed a boost that day. Those kinds of comments just inspire us and makes us want to give a bit more… the more good out there in the world, the better.”
Ryan notes the foundation for another album is in place and it is a matter of assembling the pieces – possibly within in the next year.
As for the holiday season, The Town Heroes will be returning to Cape Breton. Ryan says they are fortunate to have so much support at home. Preforming their new acoustic style, they are slated to play with the Tom Fun Orchestra in Sydney on New Year’s Eve.