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Beluga surfacing slowly



Band refuses to comply with formula for commercial success

Who: Beluga

Where: Boot Pub

When: July 1

You can sing along to that "O, Canada" track.

Or you can sing to the anthems of wacky Vancouver-based band, Beluga, on show July 1 at in a repeat appearance at the Boot Pub.

When a band lists eelpie.com. Planet of the Apes, and Star Wars among its favourite Web sites, you know they’ve got character.

Frontman Dave Curran (of Water and Whistler’s own Sweaty Cheddar), says Beluga’s sound mixes funk, rock and techno.

"We have a serious side too – we can be epic, but we like to have ballads and melody too," says Curran.

"All of our songs are danceable," he adds.

The Beluga lineup includes guitarist Bill Podmore, drummer Mike Herle (from Saskatchewan), bassist Sean O’Donahue, and keyboardist B.Rad.

Bassist Darren Paris may also make a guest appearance at the show. He plays from time to time with the band, in between other music gigs.

This summer, the band tours B.C. and Alberta in August.

Hyper Drive is their new single, a song about riding over the Lions Gate Bridge, and will be on Beluga’s second album, due out sometime this fall.

They are now shopping for a distributor.

Sonar Baby , their debut album, was independently produced.

"We were stoked when the first album came out, right around the time of Star Wars (Episode 1): The Phantom Menace," says Curran.

"We wanted to release an album every time a new Star Wars movie was released!"

Ben McGuire, of Struggling Productions, filmed the video for If Golf Was Like The Universe.

Muchmusic aired "If Golf…" on its program the Wedge, as well as the New Year’s show Fromage, a video series dedicated to the best in cheesy video as determined by staffers.

On the heels of that video success, Curran says the band’s next project is a re-release of the song, What’s So Evil About Evil Knievel.

McGuire will film the video for the single.

"They’ve all been around for so long, and they’re such good musicians – it’s worth it just to see Dave Curran perform," McGuire says of making videos for the band.

Curran says Beluga applied for a grant from Factor, the Toronto-based company founded by Chum Ltd., Moffat Communications and Rogers Broadcasting Ltd., which assists emerging talent. Factor turned them down.

Beluga will re-apply to Factor later this year.

Curran says it’s difficult to know what the "white knights" of the music business want.

"We were trying to put together our next album about robots in the future, and called it Robotica," says Curran.

"Factor said we were too much of a novelty act, but we thought that’s just what they wanted."

Band members have been known to appear in motorcycle helmets and alien space suits.

"We’re James Brown meets the Who in Outer Space," says Curran.

He feels that certain trends also prevail in musical styles that are favoured by Factor. Commercial success has become formulaic.

Is that what he sees developing in music?

"We played with Nickelback a few years ago at (UBC’s) The Pitt, and they really just sounded like echoes of Kurt Cobain, you know? And a lot of rock seems to have that undertone," says Curran.

They play a completely different vein, stronger on the pop front.

"If we went Celtic (for example), that kind of music has become really lucrative… but I just can’t turn that way."

Taking a video on tour in Canada is as mandatory as gas in the van, he says, especially if you’re from the West Coast.

"In Ontario, everything is so connected – if you hear someone play at Queen’s then (all the campus towns) know the music.

"The West Coast is different, it’s not connected to everything – there’s Vancouver, and there’s everything else. Playing UVIC means taking a ferry to the island, and that gets expensive."

But Curran,remains optimistic about the continued success of the band.

"We’re super-hero rock!" he adds.