Hamilton Rocks: Arkells

The Juno-winning group talks Hamilton and the inspiration it draws from the city.
Hamilton rock band the Arkells took home a top prize for group of the year at this year's Juno ceremonies. The win further cemented the musical talent coming out of Hamilton. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

 Arkells frontman Max Kerman couldn't sleep the night before the band's first show at the Casbah.

"I'd seen Joel Plaskett there a couple of months earlier, so the fact that I was playing on the same stage was amazing," he said.

They even got paid, though didn't ask to be.

"I remember the lead singer of the band we opened for came by my res room about two weeks later to give us 75 bucks and we were just blown away."

The rock band has come a long way since then - most recently winning the group of the year at the last Juno awards.

Kerman loves the Hamilton music scene because of how eclectic and vibrant it is.

"I don't know if there's a signature sound — I know a lot of people associate Hamilton with punk rock because of Forgotten Rebels and Teenage Head — but there's some really cool folk rock going on too."

It doesn't stop at folk rock - Kerman said Hamilton is also rich with bands playing electronica and classic rock and roll.

The band writes a lot about the city they cut their teeth in — no surprise considering their first full-length was called Jackson Square.

"Book Club," from their latest album Michigan Left, is about a friend driving him back from Toronto to Hamilton.

"Bloodlines," from the same album, is about a relationship in the city, too.

Kerman thanks Hamilton for a lot, and said there are a lot of opportunities he wouldn't have gotten being in a band somewhere like Toronto.

The smaller Hamilton scene let them open for bands like Tokyo Police Club, The Trews and Ok Go.

Kerman still calls downtown Hamilton home, and feels like there's something special going on in the city.

"Being able to come back and have the city support you after being on the road for months is a pretty special feeling."

"It doesn't feel like we're that far removed from that first show at the Casbah, getting paid 75 bucks."

You can listen to the Arkells on the new CBC Music Hamilton Rocks stream here. Follow them on Twitter @arkellsmusic.