A&E » Music

A punk progression

The Saint Alvia Cartel pushes their musical boundaries with open minds

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Who: The Saint Alvia Cartel

When: Sunday, May 18, __ p.m.

Where: Moe Joe’s

Members of The Saint Alvia Cartel have had a hectic year, but they’re never too busy to have a good time.

Greg Taylor, Ben Rispin, Greg Fisher, Rob Pasalic, Matt Richmond, and Brandon Bliss just kicked off their first national headlining tour at the beginning of May, but by Monday afternoon, they were already busy wreaking havoc at the water park in the West Edmonton Mall.

“There’s a whole lotta band bonding usually, but this is actually good stuff with no alcohol and good honest, fun, you know?” Pasalic said with a laugh, excusing himself for a minute as he ordered a beer.

With six members in the band, things can get a bit crazy, especially while on tour.

“It’s a little bit smelly, stinky, frustrating, cramped,” Pasalic said. “But, naw, it’s good… it’s what it is — that’s kind of what gives it the dynamic. Everybody is very different in a lot of regards… it’s that mish mash that brings it all together.”

Named after Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith, a Canadian war veteran who became a national hero, The Saint Alvia Cartel’s music has a solid punk rock base, drawing on the eclectic musical tastes of their members and infusing their sound with just about everything else out there: reggae, roots, country and blues. They also live by one simple rule: try anything once.

“Anything always goes, always,” said Pasalic, adding that their songwriting is also a collaborative effort.

But make no mistake about it, these Burlington boys are also hard workers. They even brought an entire digital recording studio on the road with them, so they can record, engineer and produce on the road, from their hotel, the back of shows, or from inside their van.

“That’s kind of the curse and the blessing of a tour, is that you’re riddled with downtime, so you can either fill it with good stuff or stupid stuff,” said Pasalic.

Obviously, they’re trying to find a balance between the two, with Taylor locked away in their hotel room, editing the drums section, as the rest of the band frolicked in the water park.

“You want to have the time to do everything you want to do, and the only way you’re going to do that is if you can get behind the wheel yourself,” Pasalic explained.

Time is something they haven’t had a lot of lately.

They were nominated for a 2008 Juno award for best rock album of the year, going up against bands like Finger Eleven and Sum 41. They played the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, and have signed on to the Vans Warped Tour later this summer.

First, they’re wrapping up this headlining tour of their self-titled full-length album, rolling into Whistler with The Arkells on Monday, then heading back into the studio.

“It’s a little bit fucked up, and it’s definitely going to get crazy because essentially we’re on this tour now, and from when we get back at the end of May from this tour, for the entirety of June — literally the second we get back — we’re going to be recording,” said Pasalic, adding that they’re hoping they can get a jump on the recording process during the current tour.

“It’s going to be a very busy summer.”

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