the Re-Bops
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the Re-Bops

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By Andrew Baulcomb / Photography by Justin Morabito
When George Pettit announced the disbanding of Alexisonfire earlier this summer, it was perceived by many as the end of a special period in Niagara music history.
For nearly a decade, the five-piece band with deep roots in St. Catharines commanded the respect of international critics and fans alike – crafting a unique sound as intimate and personal as it was unforgiving and brutal, while staying true to members' independent roots in Southern Ontario post-hardcore.
But the closing of one door often marks the opening of another, and the future looks very promising from where Pettit and his bandmates officially signed off for good.
Nestled between colonial shipping lanes and seemingly endless stretches of rural rust, St. Catharines and Welland are poised, yet again, to become the most volatile and exciting music community in the province – if not the entire country.
“I think, first and foremost, the emphasis on ‘unity' comes to mind,” says Matt Sajn, lead vocalist with Northern Primitive, and one of the most outspoken advocates of a new music movement in Niagara.
But any notion of unity is more of an intangible “feeling” than a concerted effort. It's a sentiment that seems to echo across all fronts.
“I think for a while bands were trying to recreate this whole ideal but ended up failing. Now, I feel as though bands and individuals are less concerned with the idea of a ‘scene,' but still so eager to take in good music,” says Sajn.
Despite his moving to England for a brief stint this fall, Northern Primitive is still very much alive and kicking, and eagerly awaiting Sajn's return.
“I feel so fortunate to be able to play shows with bands like Elk or TV Freaks. Being able to see close friends making music that is legitimately good brings an already close group of people closer together.”
The group's lead vocalist elaborated on his stance back in July, a few weeks after debuting the popular Tractor Beam EP.
“If things become too serious with this band, one of us will eventually lose interest,” said Sajn, joined by Northern Primitive drummer Billy Topolinski and bassist Ross Miller. The trio were spending a hazy afternoon at Tapes and Plates in the west end of Welland – a suburban recording studio managed by Kenny Meehan and Attack in Black drummer Ian Romano, and situated in the latter's basement.
“I feel fortunate that some of the coolest people I've met have been from the Niagara region: the bands, the small business owners and the people who just want to have fun. These are the people that make things tick, and I'm constantly taken aback at how much talent and ambition is consistently demonstrated.”
Further north in the bustling corridors of downtown St. Catharines, Kyle Paton has been busy organizing independent concerts inside his Summer Street vegan cafe since the doors opened last spring.
“I was really excited about operating another DIY venue, something that was different than the bar scene,” says Paton. “It's a place where kids can feel safe, and not have everything be about drinking or getting out of control.
“Matt (Sajn) is a newer friend, but he's one of my favourite musicians. I'd buy those records even if he wasn't from around here.”
Paton – a staunch supporter of local music, and close friend of Elk guitarist Mike Price since childhood – says he's seen the band's talent develop “tenfold” over the past year.
The garage rock quartet has emerged as one of the largest draws in the Niagara region in recent months – packing the Mansion House with a headlining slot in July, and playing to a sizable (and sweaty) midday crowd at the S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival just two weeks prior.
“Unity in the local music scene is slightly different than it used to be,” explains Price. “Like Matt said, before it was everyone going to all of the shows and having a good time. Now, it's very split up between genres. However, bands like us, Northern Primitive, Hunters & Anglers, Waterbodies and Cousins are all a close-knit community that actively supports each other.”
The group released the four-track Balm Beach EP in March, and it's only one seven-inch record in a steady stream of great music pouring out of the area.
“We are very fortunate, though, considering our region's small size. The amount of talent is constantly growing, and bands are putting out legitimately good music. Even outside of the ‘indie' or ‘rock' genre, bands like Easy Way Out and TV Freaks are making names for themselves by putting out well-written punk music.”
Although barely old enough to drink in the nightclubs they perform in, the Re-Bops have already developed a style of brash, uninhibited punk rock that is well beyond their years – two guitars, two vocalists, no bass and no rules.
“This town, compared to a lot of other cities, is very ‘easy access' when it comes to the music scene,” says lead singer Nic Waterman, sipping on an afternoon beer at the West Hill Tavern with bandmate - Niagara Life Magazine


It’s hard to tell what Nic Waterman is thinking at any given moment - and even harder with his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses inside the West Hill Tavern.
The enigmatic teenager leans into a table inside the dimly-lit St. Catharines pool hall; sipping on an afternoon pint while musing about life, travel and his latest musical project, the Re-Bops.
“I grew up in the area, mostly inside this bar,” says Liam Cosby, one-half of the band’s brash and unwieldy guitar presence.
“I grew up wandering around,” adds Waterman, casually pulling a knife out of his black leather jacket and toying with the blade in between sips. The glasses never come off.
“I don’t really have a hometown. I went to high school in Montreal and spent some time in Guelph, but I’ve always had a lot of lifelong friends in the area. I used to play shows with Liam’s old band, the Gas Station Junkies. This town, compared to a lot of other cities, is very ‘easy access’ when it comes to the music scene.”
Waterman, Cosby and drummer Steve Morley have played only two shows together as the Re-Bops, but it’s obvious that the band is quite serious about making things work.
In the grand tradition of Detroit garage bands such as the Gories, the White Stripes, MC-5 and the Dirtbombs, Waterman and his bandmates want to harness the same raw energy of their hometown and channel it into a new breed of stripped-down, passionate rock and roll.
It’s a musical diet that also involves heavy servings of the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Bruce Springsteen and a variety of other artists known for taking creative cues from their surroundings.
“It’s almost like this neighbourhood is stuck in some kind of time void. Like it’s 30 years behind the times,” says Cosby, elaborating on the band’s affinity for the Western Hill district of St. Catharines. They joke about starting a surf club in the nearby Twelve Mile Creek – “one of the most dangerous places in the world to swim” – and hang out with like-minded artists in the local Section 8 collective.
“In some ways it’s kind of like the slums of the city, but it’s also a great neighbourhood. Things are very laid back, and there’s a real brotherhood in the area...it’s obvious that it’s had some kind of effect on the music.”
For Cosby, that local influence involves simply making do with what you have – from second-hand guitars to blown amplifiers, and in some cases, even band members.
“When we started the group, there were no bass players available. No cool ones, anyway,” says Waterman. He grins at Cosby, although it’s hard to tell where the serious talk ends and the jokes begin.
“We went with two guitar players because it’s the same set-up the Gories used, but it also sounded good. It has that Detroit garage rock vibe.” With a series of home recordings already available online, the band hopes to have a more professional EP or full-length available sometime over the summer - one with “better production,” the pair agrees. “It would be great it we could actually mic the drums,” adds Cosby.
In the meantime, curious fans can catch the Re-Bops at L3 on Thursday, June 16, opening for the Bends and Audioberry. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. The band will also be performing as part of this year’s S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival on Sunday, June 26 in downtown St. Catharines. Visit www.myspace.com/therebopsband online for more information. - Niagara This Week


I am a sucker for a killer surf-pop tune, and The Re-Bops are promising to deliver a succulent selection of them on their forthcoming debut LP, Drag Race. The St. Catahrines based band of Nic Waterman (Vocals, Guitar), Steve Morley (Drums) and Liam Cosby (Guitar) recently unleashed “RocknRoll Guitar Man” on the world and it’s an infectiously dirty ditty that’s sure to get under your skin in a good way.
Waterman was previously with Guelph’s The Emerald City, and Cosby and Morley worked together in The Gas Station Junkies, a local blues/punk band that played regularly in the St. Catharines area. Together, the trio are set to make some serious waves (no pun intended) delivering their raw and intense tunes “like a switchblade to the ribs”.
Love, love, LOVE this song! “RocknRoll Guitar Man” is available for free via Bandcamp, where you can also stream last year’s Stiletto Beach EP. - Quick Before It Melts


I am a sucker for a killer surf-pop tune, and The Re-Bops are promising to deliver a succulent selection of them on their forthcoming debut LP, Drag Race. The St. Catahrines based band of Nic Waterman (Vocals, Guitar), Steve Morley (Drums) and Liam Cosby (Guitar) recently unleashed “RocknRoll Guitar Man” on the world and it’s an infectiously dirty ditty that’s sure to get under your skin in a good way.
Waterman was previously with Guelph’s The Emerald City, and Cosby and Morley worked together in The Gas Station Junkies, a local blues/punk band that played regularly in the St. Catharines area. Together, the trio are set to make some serious waves (no pun intended) delivering their raw and intense tunes “like a switchblade to the ribs”.
Love, love, LOVE this song! “RocknRoll Guitar Man” is available for free via Bandcamp, where you can also stream last year’s Stiletto Beach EP. - Quick Before It Melts


Discography

-Stilleto Beach EP

-Drag Race EP

-Motorcycle EP

Photos

Bio

Hailing from the deep dark depths of St Catharines ON, The Re-Bops are three aging 12 year-olds with a vague understanding of musicality, a ravenous appetite for music, and a few tin cans.
Waterman, Morley, and Cosby put out their self released 3 song, "Stiletto Beach" in a deadline-crazed flurry of sound bytes and lowfi clink loops, just in time for Niagara's S.C.E.N.E. Fest, 2011. With the help of the festival and some freaky shows that summer, The Re-Bops gained steady, if somewhat begrudging respect from their peers. They began work on their second volume emediately.
All begrudgers were silenced with the release of "Drag Race". The powerpop hook-fest was given to the world in June 2012, and instantly dug the band a burrow in the thriving Niagara music scene. Soon followed a summer Ontario Tour, an equipment theft, regional radio play, and a complete recombobulation of sound.
2013's "Motorcycle" was recorded in 3 days in the back of a sailboat repair shop. Recorded to 2 inch tape, it is the most nostalgic release yet. verby, fuzzy, far away and in your face. broken 60's sludge tones thrown at bare, unedited drums give this 4 song retro-rocker just the triumphant shakedown the Re-Bops were looking for.
The Re-Bops have recently become adopted by Guelph's Cassettestival label. Thus, "Motorcycle" was released on cassette on March 8th 2012, so take a listen!
Feed this band like you would a stray cat in from the inner city cold. They'll play with you roughly, scratch you up a bit; but you'll understand, even love them for it.
They'll have come and gone by the time you notice the piss stains on your couch.