POP PUNK – Vancouver’s Fighting for Ithaca perform Nov. 2 at Red Deer’s Slumland Theatre. The band is promoting their latest CD To the Rescue

Vancouver band blazing a new sonic trail

Fighting for Ithaca performs at Slumland Theatre this Friday

Vancouver rockers Fighting For Ithaca are heading to Red Deer as part of a tour to spread the word of their new CD To the Rescue.

The guys play the Slumland Theatre on Nov. 2 as part of a brief western Canadian tour.

They’re then hitting the road for a coast to coast tour that wraps up just before Christmas.

Meanwhile, there is something instantly infectious about the tunes on their latest offering, from the energy-infused disc openers Black and White and Last Chance to Seeing Stars slows things down a touch with superb results, revealing a different side to lead singer Curtis Steeksma’s vocals.

Things pick up again with the unrestrained fervour of Wasted Nights and You and I.

The gentle ballad Stay the Same stands in contrast to much of the disc’s material, but provides an effective and poignant contrast.

“Musically and as a band, we are much more focused than we were before,” explains Steeksma, adding that their earlier material had more punk and heavy metal sensibilities surfacing throughout. “We’ve grown as musicians and artists, and our tastes have changed a bit.

“First and foremost with this record, we wanted a very defined pop/rock record but still keep the rock elements while focusing more on a mainstream market. We just wanted to put out the best musical material that any of us have done in our musical careers. I think we accomplished that.”

The origins of Fighting For Ithaca date back a number of years. After a somewhat evolving door of members, the band would eventually become a union between friends Steeksma, Jonny, Tommy Phoenix, Adamm Strange and Phil Maloney.

“When you’re working in such close quarters with one another, as frequently as a band does, you quickly have to determine who shares your vision and who doesn’t. When you find the right fit, like we have with our current lineup, all seems well in the world. “Beyond having an incredible working relationship, we’ve become best friends,” he adds.

At the outset of their career, Fighting For Ithaca were only interested in affiliating themselves with one record label: Vancouver’s 604 Records because of their unique relationship with the enviable roster of bands on the label as well as their commitment to developing artists. Fighting For Ithaca drummer Maloney eventually bumped into 604 head honcho Jonathan Simkin and handed him a copy of the group’s debut EP.

They discovered Simkin was already familiar with the band and had played some of their music in a 604 staff meeting.

It was at this point that the band’s faithful fans, the ‘Ithacans’ stepped up to the plate, tweeting and messaging 604 Records in support of the label signing the band.

In gearing up for production of To The Rescue, the guys had an unnamed producer they had hoped to work with. But Simkin had other plans.

“We had written about four or five new songs that we were going actually take to a producer to Kelowna, and it was going to be our attempt to get label recognition,” explains Steekstra. But the company requested they cancel that plan, and play the tunes for Default drummer Danny Craig.

Seekstra and the guys played the songs for Craig, but he wasn’t exactly blown away.

“We were quickly deflated when he said ‘Yes there’s some good stuff here, but let’s write some even better stuff’.” But taking another stab at it turned out for the best.

“He’s a phenomenal dude to work with. He’s so laid back, but also very professional. In the music industry, there’s a lot of people who will tell you what you want to hear, but Danny is the straightest shooter you will ever meet. He’s just very direct.

“What that created for us was a whole new push that we’ve never experienced before.”

Craig raised the bar, comparing what the guys were coming up with the caliber of already established, national artists. They approached making their EP with an international audience in mind.

“While we had the benefit of being well-known in the local scene in Vancouver, we preparing to compete as a small fish in a massive ocean. We suddenly had a whole new bar set for us, thanks to Danny.”

For Steekstra, the relationships formed with the fans provide plenty of inspiration to keep moving forward despite the challenges intrinsic to being in the industry today.

“I want to be able to connect with the fans and make them feel like they belong to something,” he explains. “That’s what keeps me going – knowing that I’m in some way inspiring someone out there, or letting them know they aren’t alone and that they can find happiness in something like music.”

Slumland Theatre is located at 4732 – 50th St. For more information, call (403) 307-3528.

editor@reddeerexpress.com