Boy With An Atlas
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Boy With An Atlas

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Pop Indie




"New Video: Boy With An Atlas - Already Started"

‘Already Started’ is the first single of the upcoming EP from 2015 McMaster Battle of the Band Winners, Boy With An Atlas. It is difficult to stand out as a rock band in Hamilton due to the sheer number of bands that come out of this city. It is delightful for an audience to have so much to choose from but that can sometimes be a burden for bands. I mention this because I don’t think I’ve heard this exact sound in Hamilton in a long time.

The thing that makes Boy With An Atlas stand apart is Riley Ducharme singing. We don’t hear a lot of actual singing in our indie rock these days. It was no surprise to see The Smiths listed as an influence on the Facebook page as the broody and melancholy tones are very reminiscent of Morrissey. Hopefully this track is a good representation of what the rest of the album will be like. - Cut from Steel

"Boy With An Atlas "Work It Out""

Hamilton, ON-based indie rock crew Boy With an Atlas are about to drop their latest EP A Night in the City, but before it officially arrives, Exclaim! is streaming the premiere of album cut "Work It Out."

Taking cues from the likes of David Bowie and the Killers, the band blend danceable riffs, upbeat synths and pulsating rhythms into their own brand of hook-filled pop. The upcoming EP tackles themes like love, lust and loss from an introspective angle, though "Work It Out" takes a slightly more "outward-looking" approach.

Featuring crisp, dreamy production and a bouncy backbeat behind vibrant, melodic vocals, the song is undeniably catchy. A Night in the City is out on September 11, but you can hear "Work It Out" right now. Give it a spin in the player below. - Exclaim! - Sarah Murphy

"Review - Boy With An Atlas"

Four piece indie/rock band Boy With An Atlas consists of Riley Ducharme, Spencer Jones, Annette Amenta, and Stewart Crocker. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, the band released their EP ‘A Night In The City’ on September 11th. The five track release includes previously released single ‘Already Started’ which came out earlier this year in July.

At first listen I would have said that “Overflow” was my favourite song on the EP, but each time you listen to the songs you find something new to love and appreciate. “Overflow” has very strong vocals with matching backing instruments which is what drew me to the song at first. After listening to the EP more than once, “Lover’s Game” took over as my favourite song. It’s slower compared to the other four songs but the simple acoustic guitar throughout most of the song is beautifully played and matches the harmonies perfectly. It gives the EP a nice ending and balances out the rest of the songs with more pronounced vocals and instruments.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the EP as I had only heard the previously released single beforehand but I was pleasantly surprised. You’ll need to listen to the EP more than once to appreciate the work that went into it.

Rating: 4.5/5 - Amanda Hather - Canadian Beats

"New video & single released by Boy With An Atlas"

Boy With An Atlas, a four piece indie rock band from Hamilton, Ontario have released their first single and video, “Already Started”, off of their upcoming EP ‘A Night In The City’. The EP is due to be released on September 11th, and will be available for pre-order on August 14th. The single is available for streaming and purchasing now on Bandcamp. - Amanda Hather - Canadian Beats

"Navigating Battle of the Bands"

As the members of Boy With An Atlas – Riley Ducharme, Spencer Jones, Annette Amenta, Stewart Crocker, and Tyra Lennie – slowly filtered into the room, it was clear that this was not a typical stoic and eclectic indie-rock outfit. Fresh off their win at McMaster University’s annual Battle of the Bands competition, the quintet radiated a laid-back aesthetic that effectively calmed my caffeine-ridden nerves. I could see just how comfortable they were with each other in the way they conversed and exchanged little pokes, inside jokes, and playful glances. But this atypically strong bond for a young, relatively new band was not in-your-face obnoxious; it was effortless.
Battle of the Bands, an annual competition put on by the MSU, is the title event for many aspiring bands at McMaster University. Notable past winners include Arkells, The Dirty Nil, and Of Gentlemen and Cowards, all local groups who have since catapulted to commercial success. This year, Day Drunk, Monroe Park, Coyote Black, and Boy With An Atlas all competed for a spot at the Ontario Finals in London at Fanshawe University. Boy With An Atlas took the trophy home, and will represent McMaster at the provincial level on Thursday, March 26.

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The origin of Boy With An Atlas dates back to 2011, when then-singer-songwriter Ducharme and then-pianist Jones met in Brandon Hall as first year students. The two began a four-piece folk ensemble in the piano room at Brandon, along with a trumpet player and bassist. Through the years, the band has undergone various line-up changes. With the addition of drummer Crocker and bass player Amenta, Ducharme and Jones ditched their acoustic set-up for electric guitars and opted for a more indie-rock feel. Coupled with this was a persistent desire to include a synth sound to their music, and the recent addition of Lennie, a keys player and vocalist, was a natural and well-fitting progression towards that sound.
The band released their debut EP Doors of Dublin in 2013, with another soon to be released. When asked about their song-writing process, Crocker described it as dependent on the song but “usually collaborative, in a sense.” While Ducharme and Jones focus more on melody and vocals, these ideas are then brought to Crocker, Amenta, and Lennie who work on their respective parts. Although the band has a distinctly electric sound, they do cite various musical influences.
Ducharme: “We’re all into different types of music, and I think that comes out in our individual performances and as a whole, which is cool. Songwriting wise, The Killers is a big one; really, though, our overall sound is just a combination of all our members.”
Individually, the group members’ personal choices of inspirational artists reaffirms Ducharme’s take on the group’s varied taste: Iggy Pop for Ducharme, Johnny Marr for Jones, The Beatles for Amenta, Taylor Swift for Lennie, and a plethora of private lesson teachers for Crocker.
Ducharme: “I also like a lot of the bands from Hamilton who have done pretty well; the Arkells, Dirty Nill, for instance. I look up to local bands from Hamilton who [were] able to make it in their own different ways because we want to do the same with Boy With An Atlas. I think the rest of the band feels the same way – the music scene is amazing here.”
Amenta: “It’s really a vibrant hub.”
Indeed, it is. Hamilton’s music scene burgeons with undiscovered talent. Dubbed by many as the indie-band capital, many successful Canadian artists catapulted from relative obscurity in the Hammer, to stardom. To date, Boy With An Atlas has only played in their hometown; their performance at the Ontario Finals will be their first show outside of the city. Still, they are not unfamiliar with Battle of the Bands, having made it to the finals two years ago. However, this year is the first where Ducharme felt as though they had “finally found their sound,” making it an entirely different experience.
Ducharme: “Last Wednesday was a massive highlight for sure. I think we had a show in November, unfortunately before Tyra joined us, and that was great. It was the first time we played a full set with our new sound. It was the first time I thought: Wow, this could really be a thing. I got the same rush playing at the Battle of the Bands finals last week.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the key to Boy With An Atlas’ success thus far hasn’t only been their love for music and their devotion to perfecting their talent, it has been lots of practice. It seems however that though practice is key, there were many other factors that influenced their victory.
Ducharme: “Honestly, there was some really stiff competition altogether this year. I was really, really impressed with all the bands. No way did I ever think, or still think, we had or have an upper edge. At the end of the day, luck is definitely factored into this.”
Lennie: “Yeah, everyone was honestly so good. I literally went “oh man” after each performance; waiting for results, any name that was announced would’ve made sense.”
Jones: “Competitions like these really does span more than just the practice. Two years ago, we were in the finals as [a] folk band. We took a lot of comments – more hooks, more vocal melodies – from the judges then, and incorporated [those ideas] into forming our new sound. Our goal has always been to win this competition, and we truly kept in mind those constructive comments not only in our performance, but in the process of writing our songs and establishing our sound.”
Two years later, after fine-tuning their sound and implementing the judge’s comments into their creative regime, Boy With An Atlas had finally come out on top. The victory, however, comes secondary to the experience.
Ducharme: “Battle of the Bands is a great experience. You get comments and feedback from people in the industry, and it’s local so there’s always such a great crowd… last Wednesday was probably one of the best shows we’re ever had.”
Crocker: “This is truly a culmination for me. Ever since I was in the band, we talked about Battle of the Bands and being the last band standing. Coming in and winning is, to me, the ultimate completion of our goal as a band. It feels good to know we accomplished something that has always been such a big influence to us.”
In the near future, three of the five band members will be graduating. Though this leaves a hazy area for the future of Boy With An Atlas, it was unanimously agreed upon that they would all take this project as far as the road allows. Life after the competition yields recording time for their upcoming EP, as well as a show on April. 18 at The Doors Pub in Hess Village (and it’s free for students). Currently though, their prime focus is doing their best at provincials, for which they hope for their supporters back home to keep their fingers crossed.
Throughout my time with the band, it was clear how ecstatic they were with their recent victory. At the same time, not one person was even slightly blinded by the gleam of the new trophy. Their rare combination of talent and a genuine passion for music is both refreshing and deeply affecting. This is a no-nonsense, no-spectacle band; it’s a group of good friends and music lovers who enjoy making and sharing good music.
During the interview, we briefly discussed the band’s excitement whilst playing at JunoFest a couple weeks back. They were scheduled to play on the roof of a really cool building, but that somehow fell through. With their endearing charm and captivating sound, I would not be surprised to see Boy With An Atlas play wherever they wished in the near future – whether it be on stages, in stadiums, or even on the rooftop of that really cool building in downtown Hamilton. - Michelle Yeung - The Silhouette

"Interview - Boy With An Atlas"

It’s an exciting time for Boy With An Atlas. The local band, comprised of Riley Ducharme, Spencer Jones, Annette Amenta, and Stewart Crocker, are getting set to release a new EP and reintroduce fans to the band with a new sound. They also recently won McMaster’s annual Battle of the Bands. In good company, past winners of the competition include Arkells, The Dirty Nil, and Of Gentlemen and Cowards.

You can also catch Boy With An Atlas this Friday at Dr. Disc as they are part of the first Raise the Roof concert of the season! Music kicks off at 6pm.

I spoke with the band after their Battle of the Bands win to learn more about them and what we can expect from their new EP!

I Heart Hamilton: I see that you first came together in 2011 (same year that I Heart Hamilton began!). Can you give a recap of how you all met and formed the band?

Riley: Spencer and I met in Brandon Hall as first years, and began jamming with an old acoustic guitar and the out-of-tune piano in the residence music room. We were soon joined by ex-members Simon and Jill, who played bass and trumpet respectively, and were both upper year students in my program, Arts & Science. When we moved out of residence, we started looking for a drummer, and finally found Stewart in our third year. Through him, we met our new bassist, Annette.

What’s the story behind your band name? I always thought it was a great name and calls to mind imagery of exploration. It reminds me of my “Be a tourist in your own city” mantra – that idea of exploring and seeking out your surroundings.
Spencer: When the band first started we had a very difficult time finding a name that represented what we wanted to portray. We first started as an unnamed band for our first show, but after some discussion settled briefly on the name ‘Lost in London’ for one show. However, we were never fully happy with that choice. Riley decided to make the change by picking a number of words he liked and putting them in various combinations. The band then put their initials around the combinations they liked best. ‘Boy With An Atlas’ happened to be the only combination that had all four of our initials by the end of the selection process. While this seems to be a rather random selection I think it actually represents us quite well in a number of ways. Riley has been well-travelled throughout his life living in places ranging from Cuba to Sweden. Additionally, I think our music represents an atlas quite well, taking musical influences from bands from various places around the world.

Congratulations on your win at MSU Campus Events’ Battle of the Bands! Have you found McMaster to be a supportive community when starting out as a band? Have you had the opportunity to play gigs on campus and connect with other musicians?
Spencer: Thanks! I think McMaster has been an amazing place for us to develop as a band and has really helped us connect with others. I think it really says something for the McMaster music community that so many great bands have started here including The Arkells, The Dirty Nil, Inlet Sound and one of my favourites, Peter and the Crimson Horse. It really feels that McMaster students get behind their bands. They were the ones behind the creation of so many coffeehouse and fundraiser shows throughout the city that really helped get our name out into the larger community and help us build a fan-base. Also, as you mentioned, the Battle of the Bands organized by MSU Campus Events has done so much for the bands at McMaster in terms of promotion on a larger scale. In my opinion the Battle of the Bands finals was the best, most well organized show we have ever played (great job Lucas + team!).

As part of the prize for Battle the Bands, you had the opportunity to record at legendary Catherine North Studios with producer and engineer moon:and:6 (Michael Chambers). What was that experience like?
Riley: I am currently writing this from the basement at Catherine North Studios as our rhythm section records the bed for our new track ‘Work It Out’ upstairs. The studio is an ex-church, with gorgeous stained-glass windows and high ceilings—we love it here! But this is actually our second time at Catherine North this semester; we recorded four songs with Mike Monson here during February Break. We were so pleased to get the opportunity to come back again, and we’re having a great time working with Michael Chambers (moon:and:6)!

Boy With An Atlas. Photo from official page.
Boy With An Atlas. Photo from official page.
When I first saw you, you had a folk sound and released previous material in that genre (the EP Doors of Dublin in 2013, recorded with Michael Keire at Threshold). Now you have switched up your sound for a more indie rock style – what brought about that change?
Riley: Our original instruments, as well as the limited space we used them in, gave rise to our initial folk singer-songwriter sound. By the end of second year, however, we had started to accumulate more equipment and began experimenting with different sounds, especially with keyboards and electric guitars. The addition of Stewart as a (loud) drummer also challenged us to match his volume and love for high tempo songs. We found this electrifying (pun intended), and both Spencer and I invested in electric guitars, and I began writing songs using a DAW rather than an acoustic guitar. Altogether, the change was quite gradual and very natural. But I don’t expect it to stop here. We want to keep exploring exciting sounds and grow as musicians. Currently, we are working to incorporate more synths into our music and are looking for a permanent fifth member to help us do this.

What can we expect from your next EP?
Spencer: I think from the first few seconds of our EP it will become apparent that this is not the same band that started four years ago. I would say the songs that comprise the next EP really show the versatility of this band as each of the songs are very different in their own respects but still manage to fit nicely next to one another. I think the one thing that people should expect is melodies that will stick with you. I think this is one area we have improved dramatically since our first EP – making music that gets stuck in your head. Also, just like on the first EP, one thing I think that can also be expected is great, yet catchy lyrics.

Who are some of your musical influences?
Spencer: I would say as a band we are all very different in what influences us musically. Personally, I consider myself a music nerd and listen to many different artists that span various genres of music all which influence the way I think and write music. I would say my biggest influences are bands that have come from the Manchester music scene or were directly influenced by bands originating from that scene. That mentioned, some of these bands include The Smiths (Johnny Marr), Oasis (Noel G), The Stone Roses, New Order, The 1975, The Killers, Catfish + The Bottlemen, etc.

Other artists that have played a major role in influencing us during the song writing stage include David Bowie and Iggy Pop, but I also think we can also credit pop music as a whole (and its various artists). While some people correlate pop music to ‘selling out’, I think it says something to be able to write a song that has great musical and lyrical meaning but is still accessible to everyone. I think many of the aforementioned artists have been able to create great music for the masses without sacrificing artistic integrity and that is also what we aim to achieve.

How does songwriting work within the band? Does it start with one person bringing an idea to the table, or do songs come out of jamming together?
Riley: It depends. When we were a folk band, I would write full songs with my acoustic guitar, bring it to the band, and they would just sort of join in by jamming along. But as our music evolved, and continues to evolve, so does the songwriting. Writing with a DAW, for example, has been incredibly useful since it’s allowed me to map out rough drafts of each of the parts, resulting in a much more intricate sound. Of course, each band member fine-tunes their own parts and makes them their own during practices, and this is how all of our individual musical influences start to shine through. We have never really written songs by jamming, but we have certainly reworked songs as a band—for example, the bridge for our coming single was totally re-written in a practice as the four of us worked it through until it felt right. These types of sessions are essential parts of the songwriting process, since recorded ideas don’t always sound quite right in a live format, and sometimes things simply need re-working!

More recently, the songwriting has become more collaborative. Spencer has been coming out with some great instrumental ideas for songs (again, using a DAW), which he has passed onto me so that I can work on vocal melodies and lyrics. I’ve been really enjoying this, since it allows me place more focus on the lyrics and go a little bit deeper, which is something that often gets compromised if you’re too busy focusing on the overall sound.

We’ll see you this Friday, May 8th, during the first Raise the Roof concert of the year at Dr. Disc (presented by I Heart Hamilton and Hamilton Magazine)! Everyone who is checking out Art Crawl that evening will have to come by – music starts at 6pm! What else is next for the band?
Riley: We’re really looking forward to the show! This month, we will also release our new single and music video. Look out for that! We will be really pushing our coming EP and using it to land more gigs that allow us to make connections with bands of a similar genre. We’re also hoping to expand out of Hamilton a little bit, and represent our city at shows elsewhere in Ontario. But our main focus will still be local—we’re hoping to continue integrating ourselves into the Hamilton music scene.


Favourite place to eat in Hamilton: The Express Italian Eatery (Westdale)
Favourite breakfast food: Mini Wheats
If you were a drink, what would you be? A tall, cool glass of water
Your go-to karaoke song: “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” – The Smiths
If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be? Manchesterian
Favourite word: Aurora
Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen: The Killers, Coldplay, The Dirty Nil
What is on your playlist right now: The Magic Whip – Blur, Glitterbug -The Wombats, Young Chasers – Circa Waves, Adventure – Madeon
If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Iceland/England
Favourite mode of transportation: Hoverboard
What’s one thing on your bucket list: To be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

Favourite place to eat in Hamilton: Tatemono Sushi on King West
Favourite breakfast food: French toast
If you were a drink, what would you be? Rye and ginger
Your go-to karaoke song: “Stacey’s Mom”
If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be? British accent
Favourite word: Complimentary
Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen: Alexisonfire December 2010 in Thunder Bay
What is on your playlist right now: Arctic Monkeys, Alabama Shakes, illscarlett, UB40, the Arkells, Mos Def, Big Wreck, July Talk, Queens of the Stoneage
If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Cuba, I need a vacation
Favourite mode of transportation: Driving
What’s one thing on your bucket list: Travel to England.

Favourite place to eat in Hamilton: Express Italian Eatery
Favourite breakfast food: Sausage
If you were a drink, what would you be? COFFEE
Your go-to karaoke song: “My Girl” – The Temptations
If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be? Scottish
Favourite word: Eloquence
Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen: Cheerleader, Life in Film, The Wombats
What is on your playlist right now: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (lols), Hozier, Arctic Monkeys, Amber Run, Tokyo Police Club, The Vaccines, Wildlife, Daughter
If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? The Austrian National Library in Vienna
Favourite mode of transportation: Bicycle
What’s one thing on your bucket list: To master the art of polyglotism.

Favourite place to eat in Hamilton: NaRoma Pizza
Favourite breakfast food: Pancakes
If you were a drink, what would you be? An amber beer: a bit bitter at first, but I’ll soon be your favourite
Your go-to karaoke song: “Golden Slumbers” – The Beatles
If you could speak flawlessly with any other accent, what would it be? South African
Favourite word: Pulchritudinous
Favourite concert/live performance you’ve seen: Arcade Fire, 2010
What is on your playlist right now: Daughter, David Bowie, Future Islands, The Arkells, The Wombats, Ben Howard
If you could take a detour to anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Lac Léman, Switzerland
Favourite mode of transportation: Train
What’s one thing on your bucket list: Fall in love

Thanks, guys! Looking forward to hearing what comes next! - I Heart Hamilton

"Boy With An Atlas in-studio!"

Boy With an Atlas is a unique band that has been around for a few years. The folk-turned-electric-rock project started with two first years students jamming in the piano room at McMaster’s Brandon Hall.

It has since chosen a name, added members, changed its sound and won McMaster’s Battle of the Bands competition- an honour considering the contest’s Arkells-filled past.

Listen for an interview with the band. They talk about their sound, their journey and their future. Also check out some of their music below that. - CMFU


A Night in the City EP (2015)
1. Already Started
2. Work It Out
3. Overflow
4. Nineteen
5. Lover's Game



Boy With An Atlas is an indie/pop outfit based in Hamilton, Canada. Their latest EP, A Night in the City, has been described as “undeniably catchy… featuring crisp, dreamy production and a bouncy backbeat behind vibrant, melodic vocals” (S. Murphy, Exclaim!). Although 80s-inspired, the band have a modern take on a retro sound, and manage to reference artists such as David Bowie and the Smiths. They have been praised for their “actual singing … [with] broody and melancholic tones [that] are very reminiscent of Morrissey” (Cut from Steel). A. Hather from Canadian Beats notes that “each time you listen to the songs, you will find something new to love and appreciate,” such as the “strong vocals with matching backing instruments” in Overflow (track 3) or the “beautifully played [acoustic guitar] and … harmonies” in Lover’s Game (track 5).

Other notable achievements include winning McMaster University’s Battle of the Bands and playing the halftime show at the university’s homecoming football game (2015). Plans for 2016 include a number of exciting shows and the release of three upcoming singles.

Band Members