Group, including two North Toronto teens, discuss their musical challenges
Pop quintet Rebel Coast yearns to break out of their shell.
The five young men, ages 16–18, sit in the recording studio of 21 Entertainment Group in Toronto’s West Mall neighbourhood.
Two of the troupe hail from North Toronto. Guitar-vocalist duo Curtis Smith and Ryan Hawken and their bandmates chat about how life got to be hectic with their win on YTV’s The Next Star: Supergroup in April.
The band, brought together during the reality show, also includes Amer Dhaliwal of Brampton, Angelo Moretti of Etobicoke, and Kyle McVea of Saint John, New Brunswick.
The mood is light in the room, as the five loaf on a black leather sectional tucked in the corner and admit they want to leave the bopper stigma behind them.
“Yeah, we were a boy band,” Hawken says. “But now that we’re out, we’re all playing our own instruments.”
They’re trying to make more organic music, and even in their covers of popular songs they’re doing unique arrangements, to show they’re not just a boy group, they actually have talent, Dhaliwal adds.
Smith, an Earl Haig SS alum, and Hawken, who is a Haig State senior, ran into each other at the auditions for the show in June 2013, and it was a bit of a surprise. Hawken had taken part in The Next Star, Season 5, but for Smith it was all new.
“We obviously all want to do music, and this is just a way to get ourselves out there,” Hawken says. “[Amer and I] both made it to the top six, but they called us back to this spinoff show — they didn’t tell us what it was — but we auditioned.”
“My mom was actually out for dinner with her friend, who told her I could send in this video audition, so I sent in this link, and then they called me in to do an on-camera audition,” Smith admits. “I saw Ryan there, didn’t really know what it was about, but then I found out.”
The two had played in performances together previously, including at the legendary El Mocambo Tavern, and said they were tickled by the fact they were connecting again.
When Supergroup first started, they weren’t members of the same band, but eventually, as musicians were voted off, they were put together. Two singles came from the stint the show: We Are Brave and Don’t Stop Now, both available on iTunes.
They’ve been at work on a Christmas EP, and will be touring the East Coast to help with an anti-bullying campaign, and at the time of the early September interview, it was announced they were slated to perform at the Canadian Walk of Fame ceremony, Sept. 23.
“We’ve been doing some writing over the summer ourselves, and the kind of vibe we’re heading towards is similar to Imagine Dragons, Coldplay,” Smith says. “We all listen to different styles of music, and everyone is bringing in their own aspects in and taking certain things from different styles of music and bringing it together to create something new.”
“The sound that they gave us on the show is inspired by personalities, and what we want to build on,” Hawken adds. “It’s kind of anthem-y.”
However, ask them about their five desert island albums, and they could banter back and forth for hours.
Through their delight at the conversation of creating a list, they mention many albums, but those consistent among all five were The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake, Every Kingdom by Ben Howard, Abbey Road by the Beatles, Love in the Future by John Legend and Drake’s Nothing Was The Same.
That’s quite the variety.