Black Swade
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Black Swade

Band Rock


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"Black Swade-Battle of the Bands contenders stir it up Friday Night at Merlin's"

Who: Hairfarmers & Black Swade Local legends Grateful Greg and Guitar Doug cover all your acoustic favourites from 3-6 p.m. Squamish’s Black Swade, made up of 13-year-old somethings rock it out hard from 6-8 p.m. These Whistler 2006 Battle of the Band contenders get crowds on their feet. Hairfarmer’s return for evening set.

Where: Merlin’s

- Pique news magazine-Whistler

"Skitz to the Hits is back!"

The musical acts are recent Men of Sea to Sky winners, Black Swade, and an acoustic set played by Jen Boyd.

“Adding the bands breaks up the show and touches all the senses,” said Woods.

- Squamish Chief

"Wild at Art mixes it Up"

Black Swade is scheduled to rock the main stage for one hour Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The local rock five-some features the vocal stylings of Luke Kyle, bass lines by Liam Alvernini, guitar licks by Scott Verbeck, rhythm guitar by Alex Toews, and beats by drummer Iain Rommel.

“They’re a fabulous mix. These boys are just gelled together and are all very dedicated. They play all original music and will be competing in the Battle of The Bands in Whistler next Tuesday.”

- Squamish Chief

"Kids Will Rock You"

A Snapshot of 2007's Sound Off! Competitors


For the sixth consecutive year, Sound Off!—EMP's tournament-style battle of underage bands—is taking over the month of February. Sound Off! has played a role in separating the cream from the crap in the world of local all-ages music, and it has spawned many a superstar—Schoolyard Heroes, Mon Frere (R.I.P.), Idiot Pilot, the Hollowpoints, the Lonely Forest, and Dyme Def, to name a few, have all made waves via Sound Off! competitions in years past.


The youngest band in the competition flaunt the oldest sound. Black Swade draw their influence from heavy classic rock like Sabbath, Zeppelin, and AC/DC, along with more modern rockers like Rage Against the Machine and Tool. And he may only be 14, but vocalist Luke Kyle sings with just as much passion and guts as Eddie Vedder and Axl Rose. Seriously.

Location: Squamish, British Columbia.

Motto: "Get'er done."

Members: Alex Toews, 13; Liam Alvernini, 15; Luke Kyle, 14; Iain Rommel, 14; Scott Verbeek, 15.

Influences: Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Tool.

Secret weapon: Guitars that are so loud and so fast they'll melt your face.

- The Stranger-Seattle's Newspaper

"Hold the Screamo"

One CD, hold the screamo
Black Swade set to release first album this fall
Jane Emerick
They be young but the teenagers making up local band Black Swade are surprising audiences with their mature sound as they gain popularity and get set to release their first full-length album.

“Sometimes when we are plugging in our guitars people are like, ‘oh no they are going to play death metal,’” said lead guitarist Scott Verbeek, 14.

“But then when we play, we are pretty damn good,” added bass guitarist Liam Alvernini, 14.

Drummer Iain Rommel, 14, lead singer Luke Kyle, 13, and rhythm guitarist Alex Toews, 13, make up the rest of the of the five member band, which writes their own songs and describes their sound as “basic straight-forward rock.”

“We don’t play emo or screamo [styles of music],” said Rommel. “emo is stuff other people like and screamo is like emo but they just scream.”

All five performers attend Don Ross Secondary and are all entering grade 9, except Toews who is entering grade 8. They joined forces at the end of grade 7 when several members of the group were playing at the Mamquam Elementary sports day.

“Me, Scott [Verbeek] and Alex [Toews] were playing a couple of songs on Sports Day, back when we were crappy,” said Rommel. “Luke [Kyle] had his own band and we liked his singing and we decided to join bands. Liam [Alvernini] didn’t join at first because he didn’t think he could match our standards but then he did.”

After they joined forces the band came up with the name Black Swade, inspired by a cologne advertisement.

“There was a lady sitting on the bottle and she was pretty voluptuous,” said Alvernini. “We wanted to be associated with it.”

“It smelt good,” said Rommel. “But we changed the spelling of Suede to Swade in case we got famous and then we couldn’t be sued.”

Since then the group has played several gigs including several performances at Merlin’s in Whistler, where they expect to play again this winter.

In April, the group also won the Men of Sea to Sky Talent Show where the boys said their sound differed from the rest of the acts performing.

“It was like a ladies night out thing, there was people singing and stripping,” said Verbeek. “Then we came out and rocked the house and won.”

The band’s success has prompted them to record their first full-length album, which will include 11 of their own songs. “It’s good, hard rockin’, and pretty kickin’,” said Rommel

“I got to play my guitar a lot so it was fun,” said Verbeek.

The band will release their CD in October but in the meantime they can be seen at their next gig playing at the Squamish Summer Fest on Sept. 2 at the Squamish Pavilion. They will take the stage from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

- Squamish Chief

"Black Swade Moving Up Quickly"

Black Swade moving up quickly
CD release party Saturday, Merlin’s

Published Date: 2006-11-22 Time: 13:51:32

By Nicole Fitzgerald

Who: Black Swade

When: Saturday, Nov. 25, 4 p.m.

Where: Merlin’s

Admission: Free

Guitarist Alex Toews recounts Black Swade’s humble beginnings. The rest of the just-turned-teen Squamish crew moans at the memory, only one year ago.

“I think originally our first gig was when our music teacher got us to play at a sports day at lunch (at school),” Toews remembers. “Word got around and we started playing at the ice cream shop and we moved on from there.”

“We are over that phase,” pipes in drummer Iain Rommel. “Way over that.”

But a lot can change in a year, or at least that was the case with Black Swade who moved from ice cream shop to First Night mainstage for 2007 New Year’s Eve celebrations this year.

Despite being just old enough to attend a PG-13 movie, the five-member rock band of Toews, Rommel, Liam Alvernini, Luke Kyle and Scott Verbeek, have also recorded their first full-length album. That’s being followed up with a CD launch party Saturday, Nov. 25 at Merlin’s.

The ambitious fivesome have been touring their music the past year with shows in Squamish, Vancouver and Whistler. The mountain town was first exposed to the wild vocal antics of Kyle, whose vocal prowess challenges anyone three times his age, at the 2005 Battle of the Bands competition. While the band didn’t win, a special invite was extended to the group for an early performance at Merlin’s — one of the few concert bar venues that can have youth on the premises until 8 p.m. The audience couldn’t stay in their seats as the teens unearthed a full-on assault of originals falling somewhere between Rage Against the Machine and Led Zeppelin.

The Black Swade self-titled album sports 11 original tracks, with lyrics reflecting the life experiences of any normal 13 to 14-year-old boy.

“We just write about stuff that we go through everyday,” Rommel said. “Girls, peers; losing, making friends.”

“We take influences from everywhere,” Verbeek added. “Every member in the band likes their own artists. We kind of put it together and make it ours. Iain really likes reggae. Alex likes old stuff like Led. We put it all into one pot and make it our own.”

The boys started getting ready for the album in the spring, with recording starting in the summer at Manic Media Studios under the guidance of Brian Marchant. Studio time wrapped up with the start of the school year. Now the band is scheduling as many live concerts as they can fit in.

“I think we’ve really worked hard with our music, especially with the album,” Toews said. “We are getting our music out as hard as we can. We still have fun doing it and you get a better result because of it.”

Practicing twice a week in a garage keeps the boys on course to a dream not hindered by life experience.

“I think we ultimately want to be famous; like everyone’s dream,” Rommel said. “I’ve heard it is hard to do. That is what we ultimately want to be, but it’s also about playing shows and having fun.”

The next big concert date for the Don Ross Secondary School students is First Night in Whistler. But already the boys are becoming role models, with a smaller set in December at the local elementary school where they will not only play but share information about what it takes to get a band up and running.

So what advice does the teen team want to pass on?

“You have to love playing the music,” Rommel said. “I’ve been banging pots and pans since I was three. You have to enjoy what you are doing. You have to have a good relationship with the people you are playing with too — and I guess maybe you need a little bit of talent.”

Check out how much talent they have at the album release party this Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Upper Village.

To purchase an album, visit or

- Pique News magazine

"Teen metal meisters pound their way into U.S. contest"

Amy O'Brian, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, February 17, 2007

The boys of Black Swade stand around the kitchen of guitarist Scott Verbeek's parents' house, eating potato chips as an after-school snack.

The Squamish boys pass the phone around, each putting on his best heavy-metal tough-guy act while remaining polite and quietly excited about the fact they're being interviewed about their music.

They use terms like "stoked" and "pumped" when asked about being the only Canadian band shortlisted for Sound Off!, a battle of underage bands hosted by Seattle's Experience Music Project. And singer Luke Kyle describes his band mates as "cool cats."

Cool might be an understatement. These five kids are not only the lone Canadians in the Seattle competition, they're also the youngest and perhaps the loudest. They already beat about 170 other bands to make it onto the Sound Off! short list of 12 and are now competing against college kids and other high school students from Oregon and Washington.

They sound like a pubescent version of Rage Against the Machine, complete with angry vocals (screamed in a slightly higher octave), and some impressively fast and furious guitar playing.

They perform tonight in Seattle in the third round of the competition's semi-finals. And if they beat out Skullbot, the Army Corps of Architects and the Freetown, the boys will proceed to the finals next Saturday, where they'll compete against audience favourite Natalie Portman's Shaved Head and For Years Blue.

"I know for a fact that we're not as experienced as some of the bands," says 14-year-old Luke Kyle, the band's vocalist and lyricist.

But for a group whose most senior member is 15, Black Swade has more experience than you might expect. They played the main stage of Whistler's First Night New Year's celebrations. They've completed their first CD (available on iTunes and at and their furiously fast -- and mature-sounding -- song Righteous Man has already had air time on a Seattle radio station.

But while the band has undeniable rock 'n' roll talent, at least part of its allure is based on the intrigue of hearing a 14-year-old belt out some fairly sinister-sounding vocals while more teenagers back him with some fairly angry-sounding guitar. There's something fascinating and contradictory about it.

These aren't teenagers who necessarily have had dark or jaded lives so far. Their parents are supportive. They like to snowboard and play basketball. And, like other teenagers, they gather in their parents' kitchens after school to eat chips and talk on the phone.

Yet they sing and play guitar like the weight of the world is resting on their chipped shoulders.

If you give the lyrics a good listen though, you'll hear that they come from the perspective of a fairly regular teenager. With song titles like Insecure and Distorted Point of View, there doesn't seem to be anything drastically out of place.

But what about Self Tanning Salon? It's got a dark and foreboding sound as Luke belts his way through the lyrics, including the chorus "Welcome to the self-tanning salon."

Did he have a life-altering experience in a tanning salon? Is he afraid, on some level, of being trapped in one of those covered beds?

"No," he says. "I had just watched a movie with a tanning salon in it and I just said, 'You know what? It has to go in the song.'"

"I just kind of like the goggles that they get to wear and just the vibe of self-tanning salons. They're cool."

Fair enough.

Despite -- or maybe because of -- the random selection of a tanning salon as the song's subject, it works.

And if the judges like Black Swade's performance, they could go on to win the grand prize, which includes a spot on the roster at this year's Bumbershoot Festival, two days of studio time in Seattle, a live performance on a Seattle radio station, and a bunch of music gear.

But if they don't win, they've got plenty of time and spirit to make a name for themselves.

- Amy O'Brian, Vancouver Sun

"Black Swade-EMP Semis Feb 17"

Black Swade
Reminiscent of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, this Canadian 5 piece ranging in age from 13 to 14 years old, creates its enormous sound by blending face melting guitar riffs, a herculean rhythm section, and soaring Dio-esque vocals.

- Experience Music Project-Seattle

"Watch out for rockers Black Swade"

Squamish is a lot of things. It's on the way to Whistler. It's where you turn off to rock-climb the Chief. It's a place to check out old trains. But a rock 'n' roll band factory? Not.

Semi-finalists in the prestigious Sound Off! battle of the bands at Seattle's Experience Music Project, Black Swade hopes to change that.

The young quintet is rocking, literally, straight outta Squamish's Don Ross Secondary. The 13- to 15-year-old rockers honed 11 songs for its self-titled debut CD in the school.

"Guitarist Scott Verbeek's dad is a teacher there and has some kind of, I dunno, inside connections so we can use the school to practice," says singer Luke Kyle.

"It's great but we have to load gear out every night. Except Iain (Rommel, the drummer), who can use the school kit."

Formed in summer 2004, the band attracted a loyal fan base in its hometown immediately. Starting with house parties, it moved into local club showcases at a time when the members' parents still had to drive the boys to gigs.

"We just sort of found each other because we all played music and really loved doing it," says Verbeek. "I'd say we all agreed on a few things: Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Iron Maiden, Guns N' Roses and Led Zeppelin."

All these influences are there in "Righteous Man" and "Insecure" at But there is original fire burning in these kids far beyond their years.

"Songs flow from us like waterfalls," says Kyle.

The band groans collectively at this statement. But guitarist Alex Toews, age 13, admits that writing songs really is getting easier all the time. This confident swagger plus musical hooks caught judges' ears at Sound Off! ( as they waded through 184 submissions looking for composition, arranging, technical ability and originality.

Black Swade has these qualities far earlier than most of the under-21 acts at the battle of the bands.

"Black Swade is our youngest act this year, one of the youngest ever," says EMP's Janine Logsdon. "It's also the first time we've ever had an act from British Columbia here.

"The first prize is pretty amazing. You get a Bumbershoot! performance, a live on-air show on 107FM the End's Young & The Restless program, a song produced by Glensound Studio's Glenn Lorbiecki (Green Day, etc.), two days studio time at Sound Off! studio, some microphones from Shure, a guitar and amp from Gibson and drum core software."

Without a doubt that is a serious prize. Previous Top 3 finishers such as horror/punks Schoolyard Heroes have gotten on national tours following playing Sound Off!

The boys in Black Swade are stoked just to be there. Having hit Merlin's and other Whistler area venues for daytime gigs, the group is hopeful that this profile showcase will open up some doors in the city.

"We think that people can relate to us because it sounds like the music they heard back in the day," says bassist Liam Alvernini. "Before Wednesday."

The boys giggle at this joke.

Laurence Dinwoodie, guitar teacher to three of the five, doesn't know what it means. He's sure of one thing about his students:

"They are good friends making music who set a new standard in this area as to what kids can do."

Pretty good for a group that took its name from a play on words that Rommel came up with after thinking about a bottle of cologne and bound to change the members' lives at some level.

"We were walking downtown and some girls yelled at us," says Verbeek. "That was pretty cool."

As I hear it, if Black Swade can beat Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, it's got a Top 3 spot. Even the End is raving about the band.

© The Vancouver Province 2007 - Stuart Derdeyn, The Province


Song Year CD Song Year CD
Debut CD-Black Swade/2006
Distorted Point of View 2005 Demo Hall Of Fame
2005 not recorded
Subject to Me 2005 Demo Red Not Blue
2005 July 2006
Line of Fire 2005 Demo The Night 2005 not recorded
Self Tanning Salon 2006 July 2006 Deep Red 2005 not recorded
City Burner
2005 not recorded Controversy
2005 not recorded
The Gamble
2005 not recorded LaLa Land
2006 July 2006
The Ballad (Savior)
2006 July 2006 Like It Was
2006 not recorded
2006 not recorded Insecure
2006 July 2006
Baby Baby
2005 not recorded Disease 2005 not recorded
Still Standing 2005 not recorded Good Times 2005 not recorded
Guide To Life 2005 not recorded Down the Road 2005 not recorded
Born to Please 2006 July 2006 Maze of Shadows 2006 July 2006


Feeling a bit camera shy


Seattle, Vancouver, Whistler what is next for this rock band of 13-15 year olds? Black Swade has already recorded a Rock Album and they are playing to crowds that cannot believe kids can rock like this! This is the reality for Black Swade, as they have had incredible support and reaction to their debut album. The songs will make every rock fan take notice of this new band from Squamish, BC, Canada.

The opportunities for gigs started weeks after their first practice and have continued to include great venues and enthusiastic crowds, as the word gets out about these “kids” playing crazy hard rock.

The boys entered a Battle of the Bands in Whistler in March of 2006 and from that performance were asked to play a set at Merlin’s Bar in Whistler the following week. From the first song, it was apparent the band had won over the crowd and more offers to play for the après ski crowd followed. The band recorded a 3 song demo CD in the winter of ’06 and was met with great reaction. The band was invited to play for Youth Week at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre in May of 2006.

Black Swade opened for Free Flow, Canada Day and were the headliner for the Labour Day Celebration in Squamish. Black Swade was voted best local band in October 2006. The band had an exciting CD release party booked at Merlin’s opening weekend of ski season, November 25.

The band played on the main stage at the annual Whistler First Night celebrations this past New Year’s Eve. Judging from the ecstatic visitors who saw their show, Black Swade’s music captures people’s attention and enthusiasm, no matter where in the world they are from.

The boys were chosen as semi-finalists at the EMP’s Sound Off competition in Seattle, slated for Feb. 17th. Sound Off is an Underage (21 and under) battle of the Bands open to Oregon, Washington and Vancouver BC. Black Swade is the only Canadian band to be involved and the youngest! Seattle Radio air time and opportunities to meet with record labels and industry pros, is all part of the experience.

The Vancouver Sun and The Province took interest in the successes of Black Swade and have featured them in articles before the EMP contest. More offers are coming in all of the time and the year holds much ahead for Black Swade.

Black Swade is playing before and after opening ceremonies for the GMC CUp- Canadian Ski Championships March 23rd., main stage in Whistler.

This debut CD involved much work from Black Swade and the production team of Manic Media Studios. The recording started in July of 2006 and was finished up several months later, in October. Many band members contributed to the writing of the songs and only the band members played in the recordings. The 11 song track is full of original rock songs, but each song is quite unique in it’s style. You have to give it a listen to appreciate the accomplishments of Black Swade. Music veterans are impressed with the maturity of the writing and solid performance of the band.

Black Swade is a band receiving much attention and people are saying great things could happen to them, with their skill and dedication to making such great rock songs. Who knows what the future holds? It is always cool to have supported a great band from their early beginnings. Enjoy the rock sounds of Black Swade, no matter where you are in the world!