Three Chilliwack musicians are still pinching themselves a month after returning from their road trip across Canada.
But this was no vacation. This was work.
Sardis Secondary graduates Dylan Weightman, James Stobbe and Adam Coleman were fortunate to perform as the band for emerging Vancouver musician Kieran Mercer.
Donning their signature red jackets, they shone on stage in over a dozen shows in arena venues including the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.
Dylan, on drums, had met vocalist and guitar player Kieran a few years back. “I just met him online, he was looking for a drummer,” Dylan told The Progress over coffee.
Since playing opener gigs for Carly Rae Jepsen in 2012, the two played together on and off for three years. Last fall, Kieran sent Dylan a message asking him to “keep March open,” for what would become one of the wildest, greatest learning experiences of his musical career thus far.
By Dylan’s recommendation, Adam Coleman on bass and James Stobbe on keyboards quickly nailed down the setlist of tracks off Kieran’s debut album Help Me Help You (2016).
After a successful audition, Kieran was impressed and ready to take these three Chilliwack artists on the road.
It was stellar timing for James, who was in the midst of a year off work to focus all of his energy into his music. Dylan was able to shuffle around his gigs to accommodate the tour, and Adam booked some time off work and gave his bandmates the heads up.
The pop-synth tracks were a far stretch from James’ funk/rock n’ roll roots, and he had to prioritize precise consistency over improvisation in performance.
“You have to play them perfect every time,” Dylan explained, and they had to leave a lasting impression with only five songs at each show. “It’s a lot of pressure, we felt it.”
But they nailed it one night after the next as they drove their way from the east coast to the west.
Going into their first substantial tour as the opening band, these three musicians didn’t really know what to think.
“We expected to be an inconvenience,” Dylan said. On their first few shows, they stayed out of the way and didn’t ask too many questions – trying to be as easy-going as possible. They didn’t even ask if they could invite friends to the shows until three weeks into the tour.
But to their pleasant surprise, they were treated like gold.
Tour organizers made sure they had everything they needed to be comfortable and confident on stage from day one. Marianas Trench offered advice that they learned on their journey from strip-club shows to arena circuits. They even partied Juno-style with Walk Off the Earth after they won Group of the Year at the April 3 awards show.
“It was a huge resume builder,” James said, “but it was more than that.”
“The whole thing was amazing,” Dylan added.
Performing in NHL arenas was awe-inspiring. Watching the technicians hook up all the sound and lighting systems was a great opportunity to “nerd out.” Hearing the trials and tribulations of the road from the headliners and industry professionals was a learning experience that couldn’t be beat.
The trip was such a thrill and went by so quickly that they didn’t have a chance to miss home.
Settling back into life in the Fraser Valley, they quickly found themselves missing the hectic schedules, the inside jokes, and even the cramped quarters of the tour van, memories which Dylan made sure to capture on his YouTube video blog.
“We’ve got a pretty unique experience under our belts now. Not a lot of people can say they’ve done an arena tour. And we’ve made a lot of connections,” Dylan pointed out.
In addition to playing with Kieran when they’re available to, these three musicians are taking what they’ve learned and continuing to develop their musical reputations in their bands here at home.