The Next Chapter·Bedside Books

Union Duke's Will Staunton on why he could relate to this 2004 novel while on tour

The musician with the Toronto band is reading Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King.
Will Staunton is a musician with Toronto band Union Duke. (Little, Brown And Company, Alex Nunes)

Five-piece Toronto outfit Union Duke is known for their mix of alternative rock, country, folk and bluegrass sounds. Their most recent album was 2016's Golden Days. 

Will Staunton plays bass and percussion with the band. Union Duke is constantly on tour and Staunton says reading is something he loves to do while on the road. 

Staunton stopped by The Next Chapter about the 2004 novel he's reading called Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King.

"I'm the bass player in the band Union Duke. We've been traveling all over Canada for the past couple of years. As we're travelling, I need to have reading material with me. What I've been reading lately is Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King. It's a fascinating nonfiction account of a crew of American sailors that get shipwrecked off the coast of the Sahara Desert. This is happening around the time that Napoleon is coming back from the island of Elba.

"It's 1815, they wreck their ship on the reefs they wash up on shore. They discover that they have no water because it's only ocean water. They are on the edge of the Sahara Desert and they are captured by the Sahrawi people which is a collective word for all the desert nomads in the Sahara desert.

Reading stories of hardship like this reminds me how good we have it here in Canada.

"It's a book that is about humankind versus nature and humankind versus other humans. It's got all kinds of conflict in it.

"What drew me — and what draws me to stories like this — is that when we're on the road, it's not like we have all the comforts of home. Maybe the heat in the van only blows onto the front seats. Maybe the air conditioning only works in the back.

"Reading stories of hardship like this reminds me how good we have it here in Canada. We are so lucky to be able to do what we do to be able to go around the country and entertain people —  having cold toes once in a while is something that's quite manageable."

Will Staunton's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Union Duke

9 years ago
Duration 4:26
Most of the members of the band in our next story first started playing together when they were just in high school. It's been over a decade and they're still jamming. And they'll be the first to tell you -- that brotherly love is part of the reason behind their success.

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