Mon, Aug 18, 2014.
Halifax band Alert The Medic is in the building phase. The group has already become a strong favourite on the East Coast, and built a sizeable club following in key Ontario spots as well. The group's latest, The Phantom Moves, is its third, and is filled with the big, exciting pure rock songs the group has become known for. Triumphant rock, I referred to it as in my review back in May.
The band is playing FredRock this weekend, kicking off the Saturday evening show along with Billy Talent and One Bad Son. After spending night after night in the club world since forming in 2006, festivals are now becoming more common for Alert The Medic. Ryan MacDonald is lead singer for the group, and plays guitar and piano. "We're pretty busy, the festivals in the summertime are keeping us going for sure," says MacDonald. "We did Riverfront Jubilee in New Glasgow, Wharf Rat in Digby. I think that's where we're meant to be, and always strived to be there. We've always played with such intensity. And growing up in a small town, we did the small stages. But I remember about ten years ago, sitting in the back of a small club, and there were about five people, and some of the guys were down, but I thought, we need to put the energy into it, pretend like we're playing for a full arena. And that's stuck with us. With our sound, we grew up watching big rock bands and big shows, and we tried to emulate that. That's where are song writing went, and we've been preparing for this."
Produced by Crash Karma's Mike Turner, The Phantom Moves has proved to be an exciting record for the group. "I think for myself, it's the best thing I've been a part of to date, and the guys agree," says MacDonald. "The live show is fun, because there wasn't a lot of additional instruments on the tracks, we wanted to keep it as true to our live performances as possible. So it's been wicked fun to play, and it seems the audience has been enjoying the ride. There are a few more dynamics than the last one, where the plan was to be rock and roll, in your face, make it a banger. This time, we wanted to give them a little opportunity to catch their breath, feel the rhythm instead of rockin' the whole time."
Once the festivals are done for the summer, Alert The Medic has another bucket list item to accomplish. "We're gonna try to do our first cross-country tour in the fall," MacDonald announces. "We haven't paid our dues as a Canadian band yet! It's so expensive, getting across the land. We've been building our Ontario base so far, which is great, and you get to so many audiences there. The crowds are really coming out in Toronto, so the time is right to spread out the rest of the country. And we want to see the mountains too. We're suckers for that stuff, and it feeds the song writing too. I'm inspired by my surroundings as a lyricist."
Alert The Medic's music has always been big and rocky. Now it might get big as the Rockies.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).