A couple of weeks ago Katie and I got out to S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival and were treated to sets from two awesome Niagara bands: Lambs Become Lions and Theatre Crisp. We shared the experience here on EmbraceNiagara.com
Like most creative people, Katie and I rarely work without an ongoing soundtrack running in the background of our studio. Music is important to us and local music artists are important to the culture and artistic identity of the Niagara region.
This is the first of 3 parts in a series of articles that begin to explore the Niagara music scene. In this part we sit down at Patrick Sheehan’s Irish Pub in downtown St. Catharines with Peter Goertz (bass) and Trevor Jones (drums), members of the local band Theatre Crisp, and discuss the nature of this terrific Niagara band.
Of course, one of the first things we had to address was where did the name Theatre Crisp come from?
Kyle Petch (Lead Singer) used a sound setting in the audio software for recording that provided a theatre (crisp) sound and that resulted in being their favourite recording sound and ended up being the name: “Let’s always be in Theatre Crisp mode!”
Theatre Crisp started in the same basement (Crispy Corner) they practice in today. They got together for months working and reworking the distinctive musical poetry and rhymes of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Kyle Petch.
Kyle has been rapping for 15 years and doing basement recordings with beats he recorded from his computer. After some appearances on stage with other local artists, he knew the next step was to play regularly with live musicians and put together the band in December 2008.
In talking with Trevor and Peter it was clear to me that they have enormous respect for Kyle and the depth of his songs and try to celebrate what he brings to them and serve the message up with passion, flavour and a lot of fun.
Even though, individually, they came at it from different influences there was a synergy together. They all loved the sound and were having so much fun that they had to keep the “magic” going.
In an effort to become as proficient as possible they spent nearly a year before they played their first live performance at their favourite venue: Mansion House.
Kyle is the band’s compass. His music is focused more on poetry and storytelling by old school and underground rap and hip-hop scenes. Atmosphere, the hip hop group from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a huge influence on him and Theatre Crisp’s musical style.
They describe their own sound as Funk-hop.
The quality of Kyle’s lyrics focus on stories and the upbeat while avoiding today’s standard tropes of chasing money and sexual conquests. His main theme is to write positive messages with a focus on storytelling and inspired by life events. Trevor and Peter both are quick to say the band uses the depth and inspiration of the music to build their individual performances.
All of the band members come from Niagara and growing up around the diversity and quality of the local music scene was a constant source of inspiration and education. Opportunities to meet and befriend talented artists created a belief that if they kept working at it they could find their own audience.
They list My Son The Hurricane as their “Big Brother Band” and among the top of their Niagara influences. They are quick to applaud them for all the encouragement and credit them for helping to secure some of their first local venues.
Peter and Trevor describe lead guitarist Jay Baty as their “All-Star”. Jay is the newest member of the band and produced their first album: MODERN DAZE. He has been playing with the band since the summer of 2010.
Jay is a musician’s musician, using his talent only to make things better, rather than overwhelming the sound with his own influences.
Kyle and the band had a clear vision of what they wanted out of their recordings and Jay, with his background as a guitarist and a producer, gave the band the know-how to make the album they wanted.
Though Kyle writes all of the music, he often brings the band his song as a basic acoustic piece and then they “crispify” it to get the distinctive sound that the band is becoming known for.
The first album (MODERN DAZE, released in April, 2012) was recorded in 2 studios over 18 months. The goal of MODERN DAZE was to create a full album for their fans who had been following them for 4 years. The great news is that they already have more than half the material for a new album in the works!
Professional tap dancer, Dave “DC” Cox, was a fan of Kyle’s music and came to one of their rehearsals and expressed the desire to tap with them. His performance inspired them and added an indefinable element to their music and live performances. He just kept coming back and now he is part of their show and featured on the album.
Jones says the tapping is something he plays off of as a drummer and because DC is so good and knows their music so well the percussion and energy is at a different level when he is dancing.
Theatre Crisp is starting to reach into other cities and markets as their sound connects with fans and other bands. Right now it is about fun and the growth has been consistent so they are hopeful to make the move into radio play and larger festivals.
The digital distribution model of being on digital platforms like Facebook, iTunes and Zune has allowed the band to build an audience out of the region as well as reach out to friends and family who couldn’t otherwise listen to them.
Theatre Crisp will be playing next with a bunch of great bands at Niagara-on-the-Lake for this year’s Petestock Musical Festival on July 21! Tickets are only $10 for this all-day charity event with proceeds going to Red Roof Retreat.
Peter points out that Facebook is the best way for their fan community to interact with the band, listen to music and the place to go for current events: http://www.facebook.com/theatrecrisp
Band Name: Theatre Crisp
Kyle Petch AKA “humbleHAB” – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Jay Baty – Lead Guitar/Vocals
Trevor Jones – Drums
Peter Goertz – Bass
David Cox AKA “D.C.” – Taps
Formed in the Niagara region of Ontario in 2008 and released their first album “Modern Daze” in April, 2012