When the Hamilton band Of Gentlemen and Cowards is on the road they travel in style. That style is from the 1990s — a white Chevy Astro. They call it the Millennium Falcon and it is getting packed full with guitars, amplifiers, a drum kit and a double bass.
Sitting in the parking lot on the McMaster University campus where the four-part band attend school, bassist Josh Dawson packs the trunk like he's completing a Tetris puzzle.
"35,000 km in a year," he said. "Not bad, even for being in university."
His band mates carry over more gear, but are stopped by friends for a chat. These boys are big on campus.
Dawson finally locks up, ignoring the engine light that just doesn't turn off.
The Falcon could soon be taking off again, this time to a frontier where no Mac U. band has gone before. Of Gentleman and Cowards are vying for a shot to perform on David Letterman's Late Show in New York City.
Dawson noticed a contest to enter a song for the soundtrack of the upcoming film, We Made This Movie, produced by Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company.
The producers posted four scene descriptions online and bands were challenged to submit a song to be played during the film, said Dawson. So, that's what he did.
Their song, Save Me, won and will be played during a funeral scene in the film.
"When we recorded the album [in 2011], this song sounded so real," Dawson said. "I could picture it playing when I saw the scene in my head."
The public can now vote for one band to play live on The Late Show. Voting is limited to once a day until August 7.
Of Gentleman and Cowards began with vocalist Simon Edwards and drummer Josh Warren, two friends from high school who became roommates at McMaster. They met guitarist Christian Fedele living in residence, and later found Dawson after posting ads around campus looking for a bassist.
They became Of Gentleman and Cowards in December of 2010.
Dawson is the lone music student in the group, while Warren and Fedele are both sociology majors. Edwards studies mechanical engineering.
The four students, all in their early 20s, have one more year left at Mac and want to put the university and the city on the map with this competition.
"Let's get Mac on Letterman. Let's get Hamilton on Letterman," said Edwards.
The school is doing its part, publicly endorsing the band for the competition. It's humbling, Edwards said, but the band needs to keep moving forward.
"The goal is to keep the interest going," said Warren. "We're hoping to play a few shows, talk to people, encourage friends to vote."
"Lots of bands talk about their big break," said Fedele. "We realizes that you've got to take steps. This would be a step for us."
But it's the band's place in McMaster's small community that keeps these students in check.
"The reality is that we'll play Letterman and then we'll have to drive back and go to our classes in the morning," said Dawson. "That keeps us grounded."
Right now, the band is trying to wrap their head around the idea that they could be playing live on the Late Show.
"It's a panic," said Dawson. 'If we win this, we're going to have do to this... Be on Letterman."
It's a nerve wracking feeling, said Edwards, for these young, but talented men.
If Of Gentlemen and Cowards do make it on the Late Show, the band plans to take a few friends along for the ride, including the Millennium Falcon.
"The Falcon will make it there and back," Dawson said.
"Yeah, she will," Fedele adds.