“Lock it up. Rolling sound. Sound speed!”
If you’re an actor, then you know it’s a verbal-cue that tells everyone on-set to shut-up and listen because a scene is being recorded. And it’s also an acting reference that a few actors from Degrassi: The Next Generation have taken to heart in their new venture into the music scene as one of Toronto’s up-and-coming alternative bands, dubbed SoundSpeed.
But with such a unique sound, combination, and debut EP, it can be said that the six-man band has the same message in mind as that of the chant back on the film set. Before you judge, question, or make an opinion, first…just shut-up, and listen.
“I think we represent something different,” drummer Shane Kippel, 23, tells andPOP. “We have such a refreshing sound, yet you can’t really figure it out. It’s just a blend of all of our input and musical interests.”
On first impression, SoundSpeed spikes viewers’ attention because of the band members’ side career as actors on Degrassi. Yet it’s actually the group’s details that make the unsigned band so distinguishing and interesting.
For example, they have instruments ranging from the guitar to the key-tar, and a sound so hard to pint-point that it takes all six guys thinking on a couch until one of them finally blurts out something that gets nods of approval- though not even close to your typical genre.
“We’re sort of like the grim reaper, wearing high-top nikes, while walking on a rainbow,” says 20-year-old guitarist Jamie Johnston. It’s no surprise really, it’s a testament to the group’s blend of musical interests and personalities from pop/punk all the way to classic rock.
“We pride ourselves in not being only one type of genre, or having to stick to one type of sound.”
Each member comes from a musical background- with the band featuring Raymond Ablack (Degrassi: “Sav”) on vocals, Dalmar Abuzeid (Degrassi: “Danny”) on bass, Johnston (Degrassi: “Peter”) on guitar, Scott Paterson (Degrassi: “Johnny”) on trumpet/key-tar, Kippel (Degrassi: Spinner) on drums, and Sean Farquharson -a non-Degrassi member- on the other guitar.
But this isn’t the first time Degrassi’s seen its actors turn to the music scene. The franchise has churned out a respectable array of up-and-coming talent with Aubrey Graham making a prominent career as hip-hop rapper Drake, Cassie Steele fresh off of a sophomore pop-album, and Mike Lobel on the rise with his rock band “Boys Who Say No.”
Despite this, Farquharson admits that this idea was something just waiting to happen. They can credit it to perfect timing- when Ablack and himself both left their bands, causing Ablack to decide to try and bring everyone together to take a shot at music in reality.
“We wanted to see if there was any chemistry,” says Farquharson, “so we tried it out, jammed at Kippel’s house for a few hours. We realized that everything was clicking.”
Adds Kippel too, “Yeah, our chemistry was great.”
But working tirelessly over the last year -specifically the summer- to record their three-song EP Soundspeed Hello! hasn’t just been for the sake of picking up another hobby while they’re not filming on-set.
According to Abuzeid, it’s hopefully another career all-together.
“We’ve always been musicians,” says the 19-year-old. “But the opportunity to be a band with some notoriety right from the get-go was like an opportunity that fell right into our laps. We want to pursue this seriously.”
Leading their demo-tape is the go-getter song Magnets for Lips, which boasts nice hooks and a catchy chorus. With Ablack as the main songwriter of the group, the 20-year-old says that finding recording time was the biggest challenge in the band’s building stages.
“Trying to find time to practice on everyone’s filming schedule was pretty hard,” says Ablack. “Then came fall, and then some of us had school, so we had to fit it all into the summer- which we did.”
The band released their EP during their first showcase on January 29 at Six Degrees nightclub. Besides a packed raving audience -who got an autograph signing session at the end- the event also had close friends in attendance, such as fellow Degrassi stars Charlotte Arnold, Lauren Collins and Adamo Ruggiero, Life with Derek star Michael Seater, and MuchMusic VJ Jesse Giddings- to name a few.
“I think in reality, besides putting on the show, with screaming fans and label heads and what not, we were just looking forward to a nice cold brew afterward,” jokes Paterson.
“But we’re obviously so lucky and thankful to have our Degrassi fans following us like this for our attempt at music.”
Additionaly, the group also played at Copps Coliseum for Hamilton’s “We Day” on February 8 -alongside Stereos and Louise Kent- in support of one of the band’s favorite charities Free The Children.
No doubt, SoundSpeed seems to be riding the right sound-wave to success, as they hold high aspirations for their potential. But right now, the guys all know that they’ve got to take a more day-by-day approach.
“We just have to get the word out,” says Abuzeid, “and play more shows. We can do it, it’s just a matter of paying our dues.”
For more information about the band or show dates, check out their MySpace at www.myspace.com/soundspeedband.
I'd like to go see them play sometimes, but I'm not sure if I could explain my cougarness for Degrassi kids to my friends.