Ellis
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"Ellis off to Vancouver"

By SEAN AUSTIN-JOYNER

Darren Labrentz is taking his new band to Vancouver to record

When you think of Edmonton’s live music scene, a few words come immediately to mind. Country. Alt-rock. Fickle. So when Darren Labrentz decided to collapse his successful rock band Whoville and head in an entirely new direction, he knew he was taking a risk. Luckily, he wasn’t alone in his decision. Two of Whoville’s main players (guitarist/vocalist Glen Peters and bassist Ryan Lawrie) joined him in his labour of love and began working on a sound that’s still relatively fresh to the Edmonton scene: the polished melodies of Britpop. With a new sound, new outlook and renewed energy, Labrentz and crew are reintroducing themselves to Edmonton’s rock scene as Ellis—and Labrentz thinks Euro-influenced rock has the potential to become the city’s next big sound. Right now, though, there are only a small number of groups experimenting with the genre—the Floor comes immediately to mind—and a steady foundation has yet to be established. Labrentz hopes he’s the man for the job. “There are definitely going to be more bands that come out who will be doing more of the Britpop thing,” he says, “because it seems to be the fad of the time. I do think it’s going to be longer-lasting than, say, the grunge rock or heavy metal scene.... Eventually, the songs and the bands will stand up for themselves if they’re strong enough.” Ellis will mark its debut on the Edmonton scene with an appearance at the Sidetrack Café this Tuesday to promote their new album, Bright Light City. The songs on the disc bear the mark of such diverse songwriting influences as Oasis, Chantal Kreviazuk and OLP—pop acts that couldn’t be more different from the image of Whoville, whose résumé includes an opening spot for POD, and whose demise Labrentz credits to internal creative differences and a general need to change. He compares the situation to a marriage gone sour, and says the U2-esque sound of Ellis is what he’s always striven towards. “This is more towards where I actually wanted things to be initially,” he says. “Whoville ran its course, and by the end it was at a point where I didn’t really want it in the first place. The sound of Ellis is definitely more true to who I am now.” Live bookings for Ellis have been scarce thus far, but Labrentz is confident that will change once local promoters become comfortable with their new sound. Hopefully, that happens before the band heads to the coast to record in Chad Kroeger’s Vancouver studio. Uprooting the band is one thing, but the relocation also means Labrentz will have to quit his day job as a part-time and substitute teacher for Grade Three and Four opportunity classes. While he has an obvious love for that job, it’s his music that has to come first—though he says his students will miss the novelty of having a teacher who’s also a rock star. It was a long time coming, but Labrentz says Ellis is the band he’s always wanted, and hopes the rest of his fanbase feels the same way. “As long as I’m able to do this as a career and, at the end of the day, keep my integrity,” he says, “I think the music will stand for itself.” V Ellis Sidetrack Café • Tue, June 15
- Vue Weekly


"Ellis Playing Tonight"

Come and see Edmonton's hottest new pop-rock act live tonight at the sidetrack. June 30/2005 - Sidetrack Cafe


"Collective Soul Live Tonight"

Collective Soul live tonight with opening act Edmonton's Ellis. December 29/2004 - Edmonton Sun


"ELLIS, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELVES"

MUSIC
ELLIS, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELVES

BRYAN CARROLL / bryan@vueweekly.com

Why do so many local rock acts feel the need to name themselves after roads? The tight-trousered eyeliner divas of Calico Drive named themselves for the street many of its original members grew up on while the local alcoholic beverage aficionados in City Streets apparently chose to take a wider view of their environment.

Edmonton’s Ellis, the brit-pop-esque brainchild of frontman Darren Labrentz, is no different.

“I was in San Francisco a couple of years ago on an extended road trip,” Labrentz explains. “I was staying on Ellis Street, and the good vibes, chilling and music writing influenced the kind of music we’re making.”

Music that is currently being heavily promoted, it turns out, thanks to guitarist Kory Read’s new job.

“He’s the new morning guy over at Sonic 102.9,” says Labrentz. “It’s great because this upcoming gig is being promoted every morning. It gets our name out way more and will help us make way more of an impact on the local scene.”

Ellis isn’t just interested in making an impact locally, however. The band recently recorded at Nickleback frontman Chad Kroeger’s studio in an Abbotsford, BC barn with producers Brian Howes and Joey Moi.

“It led to a new four song EP that we’re distributing ourselves at the live shows, or through our website,” Labrenz says. “Two of the songs are redevelopments of stuff off of our original demo; the other two songs are new.”

This musical success has led to Labrentz leaving his job as a teacher, a profession he shared with bandmate Read. “It’s a strange coincidence really, but I think being a teacher, being in front of people, being drawn to the arts, it’s all connected.”

Sat, Feb 18 (8 pm)
Ellis
With Armchair Cynics
Powerplant, $10
- VUE Weekly


Discography

1) Ellis - Breakin' Into Pieces - EP
2) Ellis - Bright Light City - LP
3) Ellis - Silhouette - Single (radio airplay)

Photos

Bio

Influenced by the formidable likes of Coldplay, The Killers, and U2 among other bands, Ellis brings a dynamic Brit sound to the Canadian music scene. The band originally formed by Darren Labrentz, was the result of a few songs he wrote while visiting San Francisco a few years ago. Labrentz was staying in a small apartment on 'Ellis' Street, which appropriately provided a name for the band.

After spending 2 busy years together, Ellis has built a solid local following and has managed to expand its fan base outside the city by touring to the west coast. The band was invited to perform at the 2005 Western Canada Music Awards in Vancouver, and made its first trip to the east in March as part of the 2007 Canadian Music Week Showcase Festival in Toronto. The band has showcased locally on the main stage of the Edmonton Works Art and Design Festival for four consecutive years including opening night and Canada Day performances. Ellis is proud to announce they have been selected as the SONiC 102.9 Band Of The Month for February 2007. The title gives them regular air play on the major-market radio station in Edmonton, as well as a sponsored showcase performance.

Ellis recorded its self-produced album ‘Bright Light City’ in 2005 and then collaborated with producers Brian Howes (Hinder, Hedley, American Idol) and Joey Moi (Nickelback, Theory of a Deadman) at Mountainview Studios in Vancouver, B.C. to record a four song EP, ‘Breakin’ Into Pieces’. The band will be back in the studio later this year to record another four song offering.