Joshua Hunter, Zackariah Rathwell remembered by Calgary musicians

Fellow musicians and friends of stabbing victims Joshua Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell are taking solace in their art as they remember the two young musicians who were stabbed to death at a house party in Calgary last week.

Fellow musicians remember stabbing victims as musically-gifted and supportive of others

Calgary band remembers fellow musicians and stabbing victims Joshua Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell. 2:12

Members of a Calgary band who knew two of the five victims fatally stabbed at a house party last week say they are turning to their love of music to help them cope with the deaths of Zackariah Rathwell and Joshua Hunter.

Rathwell, 21, and Hunter, 23, along with Lawrence Hong, 27, Kaitlin Perras, 23 and Jordan Segura, 22, were all fatally stabbed at a party in the early morning hours of April 15.

Calgary band Windigo says it will dedicate future performances to the memory of friends and fellow musicians Joshua Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell. (CBC)

Five first-degree murder charges have been laid against 22-year-old Matthew de Grood, the son of a Calgary Police inspector.

Mitchell Cooper met Joshua Hunter six years ago while the pair were still high school students.

Cooper, a drummer with Calgary band Windigo, says they became fast friends — skiing and playing music together. 

“The level of talent that came out of those guys was so inspiring. [it] just made us want to be better,” said Cooper. “The type of people they were too,... they were friends with everyone.”

Hunter and Rathwell were both members of local band Zackariah and the Prophets.

'They were going to be huge'

The group had just released their debut EP about a week before they were stabbed to death inside a northwest home.

“There was no question in my mind they were going to be huge. No question in my mind they would make it. They were just so talented ... so much more talented than so many other acts out there,” said Cooper.

Windigo bandmate Jen Severtson was also friends with Hunter and Rathwell. She says Hunter was a talented musician with a warm heart.

“He was honestly like the nicest of the nice people that you could know. 

"He always had the biggest smile on his face, always had words of support and was always like there for a good time. There were no bad times with him at all,” said Severtson, who was also Hunter’s roommate at one time.

“It was just so heartwarming to see them play because they had so much love and passion for what they were doing.... It would just restore your faith in humanity watching them play because that's what they wanted to do.”

Funerals held this week

Cooper says the past week has been a struggle for him and his bandmates.

“We played one show two days after we found out and that was hard. But we know that they love music and that more than anything else, they would want us to continue with what they inspired us to build in the first place and I can just take solace in that, I guess,” said Cooper.

“It’s just a part of me that I will never be the same because both of those guys filled such a huge part of my life.... I still can't believe I'll never see them again.”

This week marks the beginning of a series of memorials and funerals for the five victims. Rathwell will be laid to rest on Tuesday, while Hunter will be laid to rest on Monday afternoon.

“I can't even wrap my mind around all of this right now. I'm still in shock totally from what's happened. I don't think there will ever be closure for any of this because it was such a violation against humanity,” said Severtson.

“You always hear about tragic things happening on the news, and things that have happened, but you never really think that anything remotely close could happen to you and ... I still can't believe it at all. It’s going to be something that we're going to have to live with for the rest of our lives.”

Music 'only thing that makes sense right now'

Both Cooper and Severtson say music has been helping them cope.

“It’s really the only thing that makes sense right now,” says Cooper.

Windigo will be making its way to Toronto for Canadian Music Week, one of more than a dozen Calgary bands taking part.

Cooper says all of their performances going forward are going to be dedicated to Hunter and Rathwell.

“Never forget them,” said Cooper.

“Never forget the people they were and just to try to bring their positivity and energy that they had in life with us for the rest of ours and I think that way, they stay with us forever.”