Ermine

Ermine

BandRockAlternative

A second generation progressive power trio from Halifax, Ermine is a frankensteined combination of 70s rock riffage, jazz-inspired syncopation and melodius vocals.

Biography

What's in a name? Nothing, if you're Ermine.

The brainchild of Matt Belyea (vocals, guitar), Mike Belyea (drums) and Chuck Teed (bass, keyboards), Ermine is named after a weasel with a white winter coat. The moniker, however, is insignificant; the trio just enjoyed how the word rolled off the tongue.

"I also liked the way it looked on a page," adds Mike, a graphic designer. "Kinda like a rectangle with a beginning and an end. I think we were all just sick of arguing about a name with meaning, so we settled on one that had none at all."

Like the name, Ermine's music is hard to peg down, but is best described as post-prog rock, a cleaner, more concise spin on the traditional progressive school of song crafting. Influences come from all ends of the spectrum - rock, metal, classical and jazz are all part of the band's musical canon. The result is simultaneously ear pleasing and awe inspiring.

"I think our approach to writing is pretty challenging, but still super fun," says Mike. "The foundation of the songs can be kind of complex and layered, but we always keep in mind that a good song should be nice to listen to. Matt always finds a great vocal melody and guitar hook to float over some pretty weird riffs."

"I'm a huge fan of strong vocal lines and harmonies," adds Matt, Mike's younger brother. "It can be hard to find a catchy line in odd time signatures or over tough guitar riffs, but I guess that's part of what makes this band so fun for me."

Ermine's meticulous methodology is evident on their sophomore album The Murra. Recorded in Halifax by Laurence Currie (Sloan, Wintersleep) and mastered by Noah Mintz (Broken Social Scene, Death From Above 1979), The Murra showcases the band's evolution as songwriters while highlighting each member's musical maturation.

Vocalist Matt Belyea became the group's chief melodic force and principal penman during the writing of the album, which resulted in Brian Wilson-esque harmonies and a consistent lyrical voice. Drummer Mike Belyea increased the depth of the band's already full sound by adding keyboards and extra percussion to his repertoire. And Chuck Teed honed his impressive bass skills to a fine point, enhancing the bottom line while supplying countless signature riffs.

"I think our songwriting now has gotten a lot more focused," explains Matt. "Our first album was more sporadic, but this time we really try to keep a consistent theme in each song. We still play around with variations a lot, but it's more subtle."

The Murra builds on the foundation the band set with their debut album Maps of the Rise and Fall. Independently released and distributed, Maps peaked at number 24 on the Canadian College Charts, received critical acclaim across North America and was nominated for multiple industry awards (MIANS, ECMA).

Now operating on BBQ Records and distributed through Sonic Unyon, the band expects to expand their already growing audience.

"We really hope this album gets some attention and opens doors for us," Mike says. "It's tough trying to break into the market when your music isn't exactly the trend at the moment. We want people to see that we're a band they can sing along to, and then realize they've been singing along in 7/8."

Ermine may just be a word to Mike, Matt and Chuck, but the name speaks volumes about the band's music. Ermine isn't trendy. Ermine might seem a bit obscure. But Ermine's driving force is its sound. And Ermine sounds great.

Discography

Maps of the Rise and Fall (2003)
The Murra (2006)

Set List

Glacier
Into the Sun
Crystalline
Velour
Creating Patience
Witness
Over Index
Motel
In Shapes
Vias
We will sometimes throw an obscure cover into the mix, but only on special occasions.