The Squamish Valley Music Festival may be several months away, but guitarist and songwriter Clay Frank from Vancouver rockers Head of the Herd is stoked because he'll be on his favourite side of the stage this year.
Last year, he went as a civilian, watching the performers. This year the band is part of the lineup.
"I got to go to Squamish last year and it was amazing, and I'm looking forward to playing it this time. I just went as a fan, Queens of the Stone Age are one of my favourite bands," Franks says.
The band gained significant traction on the road to Squamish just last week, winning the award for Best New Group: Rock at the 2014 Canadian Radio Music Awards in Toronto.
This means the DJs like them, and they especially like their most popular song last year, "By This Time Tomorrow."
"We got to play the award show, too, which was pretty awesome," Frank says over the phone, while on the long drive between Toronto and Ottawa with lead vocalist Neu Mannas.
"I think the award is mostly based on (radio station) spin counts. I think it was the third most played rock song last year; I'm not 100 per cent sure... for an independent new group it was the most.
"The ceremony was full of industry people and there was a lot of good feedback. It's just another thing for our team to put on the resume."
Head of the Herd has now been signed for a distribution deal, but they remain — technically — an independent band, Frank says.
The Squamish Festival takes place Aug. 8, 9, and 10, with Head of the Herd performing on Friday, Aug. 8, the same night as Bruno Mars, Nas and Foster the People.
"It's one of several festivals we're playing over the summer, but we're super exited for that one. The line-up is incredible," Frank says.
Frank and Mannas decided to form Head of the Herd while on a road trip to Idaho in 2010. Mannas had previously played in a funk-rock band but this was Frank's first kick at the music can.
"You spend 24 hours in a car with somebody in two days, you listen to a lot of music. We share a lot of songs that inspire us, and songs that we'd written and demoed," Frank recalls. "We decided that when we got back to Vancouver we would write some tunes together and out of that came Head of the Herd and the first record, On the House."
Frank says the band tries to make "honest music that excites us," and while having a hard rock edge so far, they remain open to other types of music.
"Whatever that ends up to be is what is ends up to be," he says. "We just try bring it from an honest plays. When we went to Boise we listened to everything, a lot of hip hop, rock, old blues. We like everything from Muddy Waters to Lil Wayne. Good music is good music."
The two men are the only performers on their two albums, pulling a five-piece tour band together while on the road. They also like to collaborate, most recently in a duet with Jasmine Parkin of Mother Mother on "By This Time Tomorrow."