Line them up and you’ve got the curly-haired boy who’s locks are likely the envy of frizz-suffering ladies across the city, the token Torontonian who enables the band to say they are ‘from Toronto’ and the two brothers – who doesn’t love a pair of double Ds? Jeremy, Andrew, Devin and Derek make up Bravestation, a fresh, young band working hard to do what they love. And it shows.
Bravestation is only a year and a half old, which makes them tweens in the Toronto music market. Derek met Andrew when they were both enrolled in the audio production & engineering program at Harris. “It was a school project in a way,” says Andrew Heppner, the man behind keys and percussion. “Derek, Devin and Jeremy had a band together and I was helping out with recording. We were spending ridiculous amounts of time together and after a while it just made sense for us to join forces.”
From those early days until that very moment, as we sat there and chatted over Steam Whistle pitchers, these four lads have been pouring their blood, sweat, tears and contents of their wallets into Bravestation. The last 18 months they have experienced the evolution of a band, from writing, to recording, to rehearsing and playing shows. When they got restless to do something new, they started the circle all over again, and spent many long nights and long days getting their second EP ready to go, which launched earlier this year.
Are they ready for round three? Not yet, they say. It’s time to let the dust settle. “It’s a funny time right now because we’re not trying to rush,” Andrew points out. “There’s been a good enough response to what we’ve put out. Our natural tendency is to keep recording. A lot of people have heard it in Toronto but 95% of people everywhere else haven’t. You have to let those people have a chance to hear it.” Wise words and I’m not just saying that because he’s a fellow Redman. They may be rookies on the Toronto music playing field but they’re no strangers to the game.
Riding the wave of their self-titled, 5-track EP, they plan to release a video for ‘White Wolves’ in early January. Talk of a full-length next summer floated around the table as well. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited.
There’s no question that a lot of great artists have been surfacing in Toronto this year: Young Empires, Diamond Rings, Zeus, and The Wilderness of Manitoba have all left quite the impression on our city and beyond. I asked the guys what it’s like making music in Toronto, especially with such an abundance of talent.
Derek, the eldest of the Wilson brothers says, “I think especially in Toronto if you want to have any chance to gain any notoriety at all or be recognized outside of a basement you have to keep working really hard. It’s a happening scene for sure.” After playing some shows outside of Toronto, as humble as they are, they are starting to realize that they’re acquiring quite the fan base in this metropolis they call home. At a recent show in Barrie, even with friends in the crowd and a smoke machine, they realized there’s no place like home. “We really love playing in Toronto. Other places can be fun but they can also be disasters. We just don’t have the crowd like we do in Toronto,” says Andrew.
Like noble contenders, they regard other Toronto artists as teammates rather than the competition, for example the friendships they have formed with Dora Alexander who they share a rehearsal space with. “They’ve been great, and there for us, offering support. And great musicians too,” states Derek. We talk about how they are trying to build their own community of bands that they play with regularly in an effort to make their own scene. Strength in numbers might just be the right approach. “I think at the end of the day you just have to really love it,” says Devin, the band’s lead singer and bass player who’s Cali-look seems out of place as the snow falls outside. “Just try and have as much fun as you can through it all. The good and the bad.”
They’ve been doing up a pretty active show circuit, especially in the past few months and recognize that while bands try to navigate the wave pool of technological innovations, at the end of the day, nothing can compete with the live show. Music has become so accessible for both the artist and the fan, thanks to the internet but I think any of my music-loving peers will agree that a live show takes the cake every time. Bravestation concurs. “A concert is the one thing that can’t be replaced, that’s why bands tour so much. And there’s nothing like that feeling, pumping in your chest,” says Devin.
A band that stays true to their word, they continue to stomp the stages, with their next show happening Saturday, December 18 at the Silver Dollar. Playing with a great bill, including Whale Tooth – Torontette’s first-ever interview – it has the makings for a chest-pumping, fun-filled, kick-ass night. They’ve also received early acceptance to CMW, one of Toronto’s finest music festivals. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
I had to ask them the question every band dreads, as I was very curious as to where the name ‘Bravestation’ came from. For the answer I turn to the blue-eyed brothers. The first part comes from the book Brave New World Devin says, “The themes from this book really resonated with us, and can show through our lyrics.” And the second part is from Robert J. Hasting’s poem The Station. “It was an inspirational poem that our dad showed us when we were younger and we really liked some of the lines,” remembers Derek. “Like ‘regret and fear are the twin thieves that rob us of today.’ It’s an amalgamation of the two concepts.”
After a mere hour sitting down with these four friends, I see neither regret nor fear in the eyes of any of them. All I see is gusto, unbridled talent and a clear love for what they do. Not a bad trifecta of qualities for four young guys making music.
Catch their show tomorrow night, Saturday December 18th, at the Silver Dollar room. You know I’ll be there. Read all about it here .
Outlines of Everyone – Bravestation
Their Calling – Bravestation