When we last caught up with The Matinée, they had just been accepted as one of 20 bands to take part in the Peak Performance Project. They were brimming with anticipation, of course. They were charting out on a very serious boot camp for emerging artists, including music industry workshops, networking opportunities and a series of live shows that would immediately accelerate their popularity throughout the Lower Mainland.
And there was, of course, the promise of taking home the $100,000 grand prize.
The project, hosted and funded by 100.5 The Peak in Vancouver, is an annual professional development program helping emerging artists along in their careers. The past two winners were Kyprios and We Are the City, who have earned a considerable amount of national exposure following the contest.
So, yes, the Matinée was all geared up. Things were going to happen! And the winner was... Current Swell.
But all was not lost, for our roots-rockin' heroes placed third — still exceptional, considering the talent they were up against — and they took home a $50,000 cheque, landed a record deal with Light Organ Records and played a sold-out show at the Commodore Ballroom alongside the other Peak Performance winners. Perhaps best of all, they earned a throng of new fans.
"It was one of those things that was a no-lose situation," says guitarist and vocalist Matt Rose.
For the last four years, The Matinée — Rose, Matt Layzell, brothers Mike and Dave Young, Pete Lemmon and Geoff Petrie — has been touring their brand of down-home roots-based rock and roll all across the country. These were extensive tours and the successes were modest. They found no fame, they earned no chart-toppin' radio singles despite the strength of their 2009 self-titled debut EP, which did earn them a nomination at the 2010 BCCMA Industry Awards.
All of this, it seems, was in preparation for their involvement in the Peak Performance Project.
"The whole experience gave us a whole lot of insight into areas of the music industry that we currently weren't spending a lot of time with and the show is kind of important, it all is," Rose says.
Now the fans are rolling out from all corners of the country— he says their Twitter and Facebook numbers received a significant bump as a result of the contest — and the support from the Peak and CBC Radio3, has been strong. CBC named them one of 10 acts to watch in 2012.
Rose says it makes sense, given the type of music they're playing. At a time when electronic music is riling up the kids and adding significant surpluses to the incomes of certain artists, there's a backlash brewing among traditional rock and roll fans who are hungry for authentic rock music.
"It's all a cyclical thing," he says. "With the more popular that (electronica and pop) becomes, people just want to see bands. People want to go out dance or see a rock show with people playing instruments.
"That whole Americana thing has always maintained itself. It's always kind of been there and now there's the Canadiana movement that's kind of coming up."
Rose says they're in line with Canadian acts like Elliott BROOD, Dustin Bentall and the Deep Dark Woods, who've channelled elements of Southern rock and roots while reworking it in a northern context. The Matinee takes the best elements of these and fuses it with a West Coast flare.
They're now starting work on their much-delayed debut full-length, which had been stalled for nearly two years due to their frequent tour schedule and the Peak Performance Project in the summer.
In December, the band used some of the money to rent a cabin on Galliano Island for a weeklong retreat, where all six members worked through new material for the album. Rose says the band will start recording by the end of February and they hope to have the album out by summer.
"We wish the process was going a little bit faster, but it's one of those things where it's not worth rushing. We've got some money, we've got the time and we're just going to do it right," he says.
They're playing three shows this month to "keep a little of the momentum going," and to test run some of the new songs before they record them. The Matinée played the GLC with Redgy Blackout Saturday (Feb. 25).