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Release the beast

One of Whistler’s newest bands, Altered Beast, aims to take the town by storm during the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival

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Altered Beast may be something of a rookie on Whistler’s scene, but they aren’t messing around when it comes to their music.

Bryce Doey is the group’s lead singer, while Moses Towell plays guitar, Jesse Gratz is on guitar and vocals, Dan Szablocs plays the bass, and Jay MacNeil in on drums. Together, they play a range of rock covers and original songs with a definite rock feel.

“Some of it’s kind of mellow, but it’s all loud,” said Towell, “Melodic and heavy, yes, but not speed metal, by any means.”

All of the members are from Ontario, and they just came together as a group about five months ago, but they’ve managed to develop a cohesive sound and rapport, and have landed a bunch of gigs throughout town.

They’ve already started playing a bi-monthly gig at Tommy Africa’s on Tuesday nights.

“We’ve been averaging about 150 people at a show, and the energy level is really high. The staff really enjoy it because it’s a nice change,” said Towell, adding that they already seem to be developing a bit of a following, with the same group of about 25 people coming out to each of their shows.

“We got together and things just fell into place quickly and we all seemed to have a lot of fun with it, so it’s worked out well,” said Towell.

He and Gratz had been tossing around the idea of playing together for the past couple of years, but it never seemed to happen. Then, while working on the patio of Citta’s, Towell managed to recruit Szablocs on his first day in Whistler.

As the band members have gotten together to write some of their own material, each has brought their own special blend of musical influence to the table. The end result is a jammy, energetic blend of ’90s-influenced rock, with a bit of punk thrown in for good measure.

“To me, I think its almost kind of a mix of Tool and Rage Against the Machine, with a Phish feel to it,” Towell explained.

Towell has lived in Whistler for almost six years, though he moved back to Ontario at one point for about four months before he realized he missed making music in Whistler.

Since returning, he says he has really witnessed the musical community in Whistler blossom and become more united.

“The music scene in this town I feel is really starting to grow, and there’s a lot more focus on it with some of these festivals that are going on now,” said Towell. “I think its good for the community, as well, there’s all kinds of music coming out.”

And these boys aren’t just in it for the fun — their music is more than a hobby, it’s something they want to make a career out of.

“That’s the definite goal,” said Towell. “All five of us really want to play big stages.”

It looks like they’re going to get a chance to do just that during the upcoming Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. Not only are they playing four gigs at bars throughout the Sea to Sky corridor during the festival, but they managed to land a 45-minute spot on the Fox Pontiac stage on Thursday, April 17, which Towell says could represent a big opportunity for the group to not only be seen by locals, but to expose a wider audience to their music.

“I think it’s huge for us. It’s our very first big stage — we’re used to playing clubs and stuff like that, so it’s going to be a whole different venue for us,” said Towell.

They’re taking the performance pretty seriously, rehearsing for about 40 hours each week over the last month and a half.

“With the amount of talent that comes to this town for the festival, you never know what kind of management… is in the crowd, and sometimes that’s all it takes, is one show, one guy being there,” said Towell.

And they don’t plan on taking it easy anytime soon — Towell has already been in touch with the organizers of Pemberton Festival, in hopes that they can land a spot performing as a local talent during the three-day festival this summer.

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