Local band The Boom Chucka Boys have plenty to celebrate these days heading into the Canadian Country Music Awards with an armload of nominations. The awards will air from Halifax on CBC Sept. 13th. The guys have been nominated for Group of the Year, Album Design, and Producer of the Year. They also recently were ACMA Award Winners for Group of the Year and Rising Star.
Influenced by artists like Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band, Dwight Yoakam, CCR, Bruce Springsteen, and Johnny Cash, the band’s original music leaves its mark on audiences with a unique sound. Front man Ryan Langlois stomps and moves like a classic performer, throwing himself into the music. As for the recent nominations, it’s really quite the dream come true.
“I always tell people that it’s sweet because it’s an acknowledgement from your peers that you are making your way and joining the higher ranks of Canadian Country Music,” he explains, adding he is planning some comments just in case they land the top honours.
“You have to prep for it because if they call your name, you don’t want to look like an idiot up there,” he laughs, noting the show’s organizers have already told them any winners get only 45 seconds to dish out their thank you’s before the music starts playing and they must exit the stage. “It’s a friendly reminder to be prepared.”
Meanwhile, the other band members match his energy with every chord and create an enormous sound. With Joel Rathjen on lead guitar, Teddy Roy Michaylow on bass and Ben Shillabeer on the drums fans can imagine them playing stadiums, even as they enjoy seeing them up close in an intimate venue.
It’s also been a truly breakthrough year as they joined forces with Royalty Records, Cache Entertainment and Sony Music Canada for their release Ramble which was produced by fellow Canadian country artist Gord Bamford, who hails from Lacombe.
“It was to kind of build on the first record. Our live shows are what we kind of predicate everything on,” he explained. “Our shows have also grown quite a lot since the first record had come out – they’ve became bigger and more exciting.
“So going into the studio, and going through a lot of the production, we very much kept in mind the live shows. We wanted it to sound ‘bigger’ than the first record.
“The production level of the record is also better and also much bigger sounding. I think the sounds are a little more mainstream than the first record was as well which was also something we wanted to do. There’s definitely more of a rock sound to the record – we are a country band, but when we play live we probably look a lot more like a rock band than a traditional country band,” he said. “I think the record reflects that really well.”
Ramble was recorded in Calgary – something he’s proud of as well, as the entire record was Canadian-made. “That’s something we didn’t necessarily have a whole lot of control over but we are really proud of it because we knew everyone in the studio and the producer and engineer. We had also been to the studio, so there was a lot of history of people who we look up to who had also recorded there. It was definitely important and became a really cool thing.”
As for Bamford’s production, Langlois couldn’t be happier. “That was the biggest thing – really knowing how to take our sound and not have us sell out to fit in, but to make little tweaks here and there. For me personally, he was really, really encouraging – and for me vocally, he pushed hard but it was really good.”
For Langlois, a love for music came along early but he didn’t actually start with the guitar until his early 20s. “I definitely grew up hearing a variety of music – we grew up listening to everything from western swing to the Tragically Hip to Jethro Tull.
“For me, once I started stepping out and being willing to risk it, it snowballed really fast,” he added of his own musical explorations. At first, it wasn’t easy to perform for people, but over time, his confidence grew and now the stage is one of his favourite places to be.
“I truly love performing. It’s the thing I love the most.”
Ultimately, The Boom Chucka Boys has been described as a band that don’t play ‘to’ the crowd, but for it. They leave everything on the stage, each and every night. It’s a genuine energy that comes from an authentic place of loving the songs and the joys of performing.
As mentioned, the band took shape about three years ago – in July of 2010.
They began honing their musicianship, songwriting and performance at any live venue that would lend them a stage. “It really all started at The Hideout in Red Deer.”
Then on a chilly night in January of 2011, Bamford happened to walk in on them in the middle of a three-set night. Before long a deal was made and The Boom Chucka Boys signed a record deal with Cache Entertainment.
Their debut CD was produced by award-winning producer/songwriter Byron Hill.
These days, they’ve got dates planned through the rest of the year and are also seeing their latest single, Can’t Take My Lips You, climb the charts. “The video is also getting tonnes of spin so that is wonderful,” he said, adding the guys are also planning a tour out east as well. “So you just keep moving forward and seeing what happens.
“This year already, compared to last year, has been by far our biggest year – and it’s only about three-quarters through!”