A&E » Music

Meet the Anarchist Employment League

Whistler's newest band offers chance for musician Peter Vogler to dig into back catalogue



To say Peter Vogler had a backlog of songs is a bit of an understatement.

The long-time local musician actually had original material dating back—and spanning—25 years that had rarely seen the light of day.

They didn't fit the vibe of his band, The Hounds of Buskerville (co-founded with his brother, Stephen Vogler), and they required a rhythm section, which his solo act, PeteCatastrophe, didn't have.

So, he decided to start a new band—and A.E.L., or Anarchist Employment League, was born.

"I was playing solo—ska and reggae—and you need a rhythm section," he says. "The scratch guitar needs to have the melody pushed by the bass guitar. I said, 'Screw this. I just want to play with some good musicians. I'll create a three piece.' It's flexible, the band politics are easy; you don't have as many cats to herd."

So he approached two Whistler musicians, Monty Biggins and Drew Doy to join him.

Biggins might be best known around Whistler for his solo act and his work in The Sociables, but in A.E.L. he serves as bassist and offers up back-up vocals. Doy, meanwhile, is behind the drum kit.

"These guys were key. We like each other, they were available, and they were talented. What more can we ask for?" Vogler asks with a laugh.

The group had its first gig at The Crystal last month with plans to play The Pemberton Hotel on Feb. 29 and add more dates in the New Year.

So far, the format is working well for Vogler, who likes to eschew set lists in favour of spontaneity. It turns out, Biggins and Doy have been up for the challenge.

"Monty Biggins is awesome," Vogler says. "He's such a casual guy and has such a melodic ear; if he misses a note because he's never heard the song before, he doesn't worry about it. He keeps on playing and it works out perfectly. Andrew Doy is on the ball, but has a casual personality. He has a nice, casual flow to music too. Those guys make it really easy for me to play my songs. They get it quickly and do it with love and fun."

So what's it like pairing original tracks from more than two decades ago with songs penned recently? Turns out, a rough plan helps.

"I program three sets," Vogler says. "I start one way, maybe with more melodic soul songs, then I go to a rock song to reggae to funk. It's reading the crowd. Most musicians will tell you this, but I hate making set lists. I kind of have a list of songs and break it into three parts. Then I'll think of what I start with and read the crowd and see how they respond."

That off-the-cuff approach seems well suited to a band whose name includes "anarchist."

While asking a musician about their band name is perhaps the most inane question they have to field, it sometimes—like in this case—offers a bit of insight into the whole operation.

"I did a little gig and thought, 'A band is a roving bunch of musicians. The whole thing is kind of anarchistic,' like herding cats, right?" Vogler says. "I thought, 'Being in a band and getting a gig is like being employed, but in an anarchistic way'... And I liked the reference to a league. Everyone seems to like the name, but I wouldn't want to have to explain it to everyone for them to have a laugh. It just popped into my head."

While their next scheduled gig might not be until next month, A.E.L. is planning to record before then and have songs to share on a ReverbNation page—and they're hoping to press vinyl in the near future.

"I hope we generate enough interest," Vogler says. "People seem to like what they're hearing."