The Luckless
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The Luckless


Band Americana Rock


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The best kept secret in music


"Interview w Corey Hernden (The Frontier Index days)"

You’d be hard pressed to find a more collaborative and unabashedly brilliant Canadian band than 1960’s heirlooms The Band. Beginning with 1968’s Music From Big Pink, Robbie Robertson and co. created a series of seminal works that plumbed the depths of Americana to create a sound that was thoughtful, intelligent and, most importantly, timeless.

It might be a stretch to suggest that Toronto’s Frontier Index will ever approximate The Band’s level of notoriety. Yet if the last couple of years are any indication, The Frontier Index might just possess the yams to etch themselves a legacy to call their own. They’ve even got their very own Levon Helm in drummer/vocalist Mick Jackson, who recently sat down with Soul Shine to review the story of The Frontier Index.

“I took the drums by default, even though I was one of the singers,” says Jackson of the band’s salad days. “Corey and Matt had their instruments so I ended up on drums, drumming and singing together. It’s just natural for me at this point.”

The Corey and Matt in question are Jackson’s high school chums Corey Hernden (guitar/vocals) and Matt Francis (bass). The trio met in localized theatre mecca Stratford and immediately, clicked over a shared admiration of The Band, The Beach Boys and Gram Parsons. Yet it wasn’t until a move to Toronto, and the addition of lead guitarist and fellow Stratford ex-patriot John Hunter that The Frontier Index was hatched. This was early 2003 and the group has yet to look back.

From the onset, The Frontier Index’s immediate brand of “cosmic-country-soul” found takers within Toronto’s gauche indie rock circles. And before long, the Index found themselves knocking back suitors left and right. It was that easy. There was even a faithful gig where audience members stormed the stage during the band’s set, which in Toronto, is paramount to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Luckily, the band had a solid supporting cast in place from absolute zero, which allowed such uproars to unfold with minimal blood loss.

“There have been pretty huge expectations on this band since our very first gig,” confirms Jackson. “Dan Burke booked our shows early on—he really enjoyed our music and worked really hard for us. Eventually, he passed us over to Craig Laskey at The Horseshoe, who also really liked us and got us all these great opening slots. We’re almost like a ‘house band’ at The Horseshoe at this point—the bartenders know us and we like to drink so it sure seems that way at times.”

Indeed, The Frontier Index has shared the Horseshoe stage with such luminaries as The Sadies, Lowest of the Low and The Preston School of Industry, led by ex-Pavement twiddler Scott Kannberg. In the soil of these gigs and others, seeds were planted and ultimately germinated in the form of a recording contract with foppish Manhattan-based indie Rainbow Quartz. Known for their jangly guitars and colourful artwork, the label is a solid fit for the Index’s classic singer/songwriter spew.

“They came after us; a friend of a friend had come to see us and he ended up working for Rainbow Quartz,” says Jackson. “We were talking with some other people at the time but they were definitely the most anxious and excited about working with us.”

But what about the tunes, man? The bloody tunes? Well, those are coming, and soon. The Index spent the first weeks of 2005 hashing out material in London with renown push-button deity Andy Magoffin (Royal City, Constantines, Hidden Cameras). So by the time you read this, the mastering process will be underway with an intended June street for the band’s Rainbow Quartz debut. It’s then—and only then—that the true power of The Frontier Index’s “cosmic-country-soul” will take full effect. But until that time, barbarianism begins at home, and Jackson is thankful for the solid roots his band has sprouted.

“We didn’t even know that many people in Toronto when the band formed but the city’s been such a great environment for us the last few years—really supportive and caring. We’ve discovered it’s really not that big a city when you think of it in terms of a musical community.”
- Soul Shine

"the Frontier Index Days"

Frontier Index -- Frontier Index (Rainbow Quartz): A little ‘80s style jangle rock, some Americana and a bit of power pop inform the Frontier Index sound. They are kindred spirits with names from the past like Beat Rodeo and current acts like The Old 97s. This is an assured, well recorded debut, with 11 concise and winning songs. They know how to hook you in right away. On "If It Don't Work Out", the band finds a lurching guitar riff that Uncle Tupelo and Wilco managed to overlook and add a yearning melodic chorus, a combination that is unbeatable. Another highlight is "San Antone". This is an alt-country slow dance with a Beatle-esque melody that doesn't bring me down, if you get my drift. The middle-eight has some nice harmony vocals supporting Corey Hernden's excellent lead vocals. Hernden has a bit of a quaver in his voice, which is a wee bit thin in spots, but he's a very expressive on every song, and a pleasure to listen to. Some tracks gravitate more to the guitar-pop end of the spectrum, like the opener "Someday" and the dreamy "Silver Suns", which sounds like an Americanized version of The Delays. Just a real good disc. - Fufkin


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The part of southwestern Ontario where Corey Hernden was born and raised is farming country, where sometimes the only music comes from the wind and the lowing of dairy cattle. The landscape is punctuated with barns that have stood through a hundred winters, and home to winding roads where a friendly cup of coffee is as important as half a tank of gas.

This stoic loneliness informs the songs that make up “Corey Hernden & The Luckless”. Blessed with a high, keening voice that shimmers like a field of wheat, Hernden earned plaudits as singer/guitarist with country-rockers The Frontier Index, but opts for a quieter, midnight approach with this album. Full of finely-etched lyrical details and haunting melodies, Hernden spins tales of red-eyed nights awaiting a lost love, desperate bids to make a better life, and hours upon hours behind the wheel. Gentle support comes from The Luckless, a collection of like-minded friends who make up The Luckless, including Burke Carroll (Justin Rutledge, Be-Bop Cowboys) and Noah Fralick (The Ride Theory), among others.

As sturdy as the people and the places that inspired it, “Corey Hernden & The Luckless” tunes in to the sound of Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt and The Band. So pull up a chair, pour another cup of coffee, and share a story before it’s time to hit the road again, because it’s chilly out there.