WHY (Ottawa Office WHY Music Canada)
Gig Seeker Pro

WHY (Ottawa Office WHY Music Canada)


Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Canadian Musician Mag. Showcase WHY"

Contact: whymusic@whytheband.com

Power. Passion. Purpose. Those three words describe the music of Winnipeg’s WHY, a four-piece rock act formed in 1995 by lead singer Brian Cook.

Cook and bandmates Derek James (drums), Stephan Makarewicz (guitar), and Greg Barre (bass) have created a sound that draws heavily from the European school, which is not at all surprising considering Cook cites U2’s Bono and Boomtown Rats’ founder Bob Geldof as two of his heroes.

The band began to take shape in 1995 when Cook decided it was time to take the musical ideas that were percolating in his head to the next level and rounded up some of the best players the local scene had to offer.

The first album to come from that union, The Naked Soul, generated some buzz.

The Rise and Fall of the Question Mark, released in 2002, built on that buzz, which was further fuelled by the excitement of some electrically-charged live shows.

Things were looking good, but advancing the band was not Cook’s sole reason for being. Inspired by Bono and Geldof, he began to devote more and more time to Make Poverty History. At this point in time Cook still believes strongly in music as a tool to bring about social change and is supported by his mates in championing a number of worthy causes.

Musically they are more focused than ever before, as evidenced by the band’s most recent offering, Red, a powerful record with both a big sound and a big message.

A suitable follow-up to the last project, The Lazarus Effect, Red boasts some of the best songwriting yet from this quartet.

Two tracks in particular have earned accolades. “The Surface” was named one of the top 10 rock tracks of 2007 by the Winnipeg Free Press and “Red” was named single of the year by Winnipeg’s 92.9 KICK FM. It charted on a number of other stations as well.

This is a band with tremendous potential.

-Doug Gallant CANADIAN MUSICIAN Magazine - Canadian Musician Magazine

"WHY by Craig Rempel L.A. Magazine"

“And rise with WHY”

“I saw the world was changeable by the actions of one for one”

-Brian Cook, WHY

You know those heartbreaking commercials that you see every once in a while on television, where you see footage from the poorest places in the world. And there is that one child who just stares straight ahead and you could swear they are burning a hole right through the television looking at you. Perhaps at that one moment, you get an overwhelming feeling of guilt. But then your show comes back on and you’ve quickly forgotten what you just saw.

I guess that’s just the way it is. We have our own worries and hardships to contend with in our lives. Maybe we just rely on the fact that we know someone will help, someone will sit up and take action.

There is a four piece band out of Winnipeg, Manitoba that is taking action and trying to make a difference in this chaotic world. That band is WHY.

The current line up of WHY have been together since 2005. This includes lead singer Brian Cook, drummer Derek James, bassist Greg Barre, and guitarist Stephan Makarewicz. WHY has actually been around since 1994, however, only Brian is left from the original line up.

WHY is currently hard at work promoting their latest CD “Red”.

I see WHY as an anomaly in this day of pop/punk/rock bands and whatever other over produced music that is blaring from the radio today. Every song on “Red” stands out for its inspiration, spirituality, and rawness. In getting to know WHY a little bit you will know where this music is coming from.

If you check out WHY’s web pages (www.myspace.com/whyy and www.whytheband.com), you will quickly notice something that you do not see often with many bands. They have listed numerous charitable organizations which they support. Recently I spoke with front man Brian Cook about some of these causes and about their latest CD “Red”.

For Brian, the need to help others started at a young age when he sponsored a child through World Vision. “I saw that child sponsorship works…I saw the world was changeable by the actions of one for one”, says Cook. This attitude has continued right through into Cook’s musical career.

The last few years have seen WHY support several causes through their music. Their 2005 disc The Lazarus Effect had proceeds donated to Make Poverty History. Partial proceeds from the sale of their merchandise continue to go to the African Well Fund. Most recently, sales from the CD single of their number #1 title track hit “Red” were donated to the Global Fund. (By the way, in case you were wondering, “Red” has nothing to do with the “Red” campaign started by Bono.)

As you can tell, the band has a lot of inspiration to draw from. I can only imagine some of the emotions that occur with getting involved with these organizations. WHY has let those emotions spill into the lyrics and music. Perhaps this is best portrayed in two tracks on “Red”. First, the title track “Red” which Cook describes as a lyric that explores the idea behind the term “I see red”. Cook states: “I saw the word red having a layered meaning. Red can be anger, but it also can be danger, joy, passion, embarrassment, sin, or redemption.”

The second track is “Big Thunder No Rain”. Cook sings out about inaction and empty promises. Much to my surprise he was singing about himself. Cook told me: “Big Thunder, was actually a response to the apathy that had crept up on me. Cynicism can be a very comfortable blanket. I didn’t want to just talk about what was wrong anymore, I wanted to do something. Intentions are great, but they don’t change anything…I just wanted to knock myself off the soap box and drive myself into taking action.”

WHY’s writing process may also play a role in the raw emotion that comes through in their music. The incredibly haunting track “The Wrong Way”, my favourite from the disc, is an example of this. Most of the vocal track laid down by Cook was done in one take. Makarewicz came up with a great guitar track and Brian just sang his heart out.

Cook explains that “a lot of the album was done in home studios which gave us the freedom to take our time…Often it (writing process) starts with a lyric or the beginning of a lyric. Other times it is in a band setting where the songs just come. The trick is to stay out of the way of the music. It sounds very spiritual, but to be honest it is.”

Other tracks that really stand out on “Red” are “Rewind/Erase”, which is just a kick ass groove driven rock song, with Greg on bass laying down an infectious funk style bass line.

“The Surface” is a song that will get every person in a stadium singing along with Brian as he belts out the chorus “And rise, and rise.” The song according to Brian is about how “in life we come upon speed bumps, you can slow down and stop to look at them, or you can view them as a ramp and just floor it.”

These are just a few examples of the songs that make up “Red”. People need to sit up and take notice of what WHY is doing for rock and for those who need help in this world. They are a true indie band, as they represent themselves and though as Cook states “it is incredibly difficult….you have to step up to the challenge of promoting a project you believe in. Songs are like your children, so you give them the best you can.”

Not only are they taking care of their “children”, they may be supporting a cause that takes care of your children or the children of someone you know.

Support WHY now.
- The Tub Magazine

"Interview on U2's Largest Fan Website"

Interview: Canadian Band WHY, Supporters of Make Poverty History and (RED)*

By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor

(RED), a collaboration of various companies in support of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, recently launched a MySpace page. One of the organization's friends is the Canadian band WHY, a group that's been around for more than 10 years.

WHY (Brian Cook on vocals, Derek James on drums, Stephan Makarewicz on guitar and Greg Barre on bass) has supported causes like Make Poverty History and The Global Fund since its inception. In fact, George Stroumboulopoulos of the CBC News "The Hour" interviewed Cook about issues relating to HIV/AIDS and poverty on World AIDS Day 2005. This year, the band is supporting (RED) with the release of an album and single named for the organization.

Interference.com e-mailed the band about its history and connection to (RED), learning from lead singer Cook about how WHY integrated its belief in these causes into its music.

How long as WHY been together?

WHY has been around since 1993. We released four CDs, "The Naked Soul," "Suddenly Bang," "The Rise and Fall of the Question Mark" and, most recently, "Lazarus Effect," which is a CD to help make people aware of Make Poverty History and raise some funds for the MPH campaign. We are currently in the studio recording our next full length album "RED," due out this fall. The title track has been released to radio and we have a free download of the song on our website. We encourage anyone who wants to burn it and take copies to your local radio station and ask for airplay. This has been a great way to infect people around the world with our music.

Where did the band's name come from?

I was watching a TV special on John Lennon around 1992 and there was a part filmed the day he died and fans were all around his and Yoko's New York apartment with candles and signs and one sign just said "WHY." No question mark, just three capital letters, and I thought, "That's the most used word in our troubled world." Henry Thoreau said, "Why is the beginning of knowledge," so it seemed right for a band with so many questions. We still do, by the way.

How would you describe your music?

I wouldn't, I'd leave that up to you and anyone who listens to it. I find people take our songs as their own, which is very flattering and humbling. They tell us what we sound like to them. So I suppose I could say, "WHY: Whatever the music makes you feel." We get very passionate comments about how, "This certain song really got me through a rough spot" type of thing. That is the best thing to hear as a musician or artist of any medium for that matter.

Who are your musical influences?

U2 have left a stain on us, as have The Alarm, Bob Dylan, The Clash, REM, whatever we heard growing up. I wasn't ever inclined to sing as a kid., it wasn't until later I felt like I could express myself emotionally and, moreover, spiritually through music, rock 'n' roll.

It's funny we get a lot of, 'You sound like U2' or "You sound like Bono," which is very flattering but I really am trying to be my own person, have my sound, create a new thing and I, in the past, used to get very frustrated with the Bono comparison so I would deliberately sing in a way that wasn't my range or even try new styles, [like] sing rougher or softer. The more I tried to not sound like Bono, [the more] I'd get, "Hey, you really sound like Bono on that song," so I realized that I sing this way because that's my voice and no point fighting it, just so happens I sound a bit like the greatest rock singer of all time. Not a bad thing, by the way, people could say I sound like [comedian] Emo Phillips when I sing.

How did your band become interested in the Make Poverty History and (RED) causes?

Well, the whole band is passionate about the destruction of stupid poverty. Speaking for myself, I was very involved with [Christian relief organization] World Vision through child sponsorship, (I still sponsor two children, really a great way to do something to help), and the [international youth hunger-fighting movement] 30 Hour Famine from the late '80s through the '90s. I used to go to schools as a rep for World Vision and speak and show films and get kids involved. Kids really believe, if you tell them, that their voice, their actions, their passion can change the world—and they're right.

We as a band recently decided that from now until we end as a band, we will give a dollar from every WHY CD that is ever made to fighting extreme poverty, for now The Global Fund is who we will send cash to. Our next album "Red" will be used to draw attention to The Global Fund and raise money for them. "Lazarus Effect" is available online [and] we are giving a portion of the money from sales to Make Poverty History. In Canada, MPH is badly under-funded so we want to add our two cents.

I was fortunate to be able to produce a compilation CD for The Global Fund with some great Canadian bands like Our Lady Peace, 54-40, Finger 11, The Trews and unsigned local bands who believed in putting their music where their mouth is. It was called "Rock for a Reason: Artists United for African AIDS Relief." We only printed a couple thousand and it sold well. It raised $15,000.00 for The Global Fund and I got to interview Richard Feachem [executive director of The Global Fund] on a local alt rock radio station.

[Feachem] is on my short list of people to meet and talk face to face. [Also] on that list [are] Prof. [Jeffrey] Sachs, Sir Bob Geldof, Bono, although he and I met in Winnipeg back in 1997, along with Edge and Adam. I would really like to pick those brains on what we in the grassroots movement can do to make poverty history. WHY isn't a big name band with clout, so our ranting about this issue isn't as affective as, say, Bono, Brad Pitt and so on, but maybe one day we will be able to be a large pain in the ass of our PM here [Stephen Harper] in Canada or, for that matter, a global pain.

Why did you decide to write a song and name your album for "Red"?

That's the magic of music, at least for me, as I don't sit down with a plan, the music is constructed beyond us, it just pours through us. Red just seemed like a great color to touch on as it has so many different applications, for example, red can be a color for anger or passion or danger, sacrifice, heat, joy.

When it was done I was made aware of the (RED) campaign, so we offered it to (RED). No response as of yet, but they can use it for free. We plan on using it to promote (RED) and The Global Fund either way, they are getting the money no matter what. It really fits the campaign, though, doesn't it? We were surprised how well it works. I guess a little help from the Divine Mover.

What kind of reaction has the song "Red" gotten from fans?

Very positive, people have had a very strong reaction to "Red." People have been downloading for free from us and have been put it on their iPods and, as one woman in Australia said in an e-mail to us, "I can't stop listening to 'Red,' I listen to over and over." That is such a great thing to hear.

Have you gotten the song to people with (RED)? If you have, what reaction have you gotten from them?

We have been in contact with Sheila Roche at (RED) and she has it, but so far they haven't got back to us. They are busy trying to save lives, mind you, so we are I'm sure [we're] at the bottom of their to-do list. I really hope they like it and use it as we have told them we want to give it to them free of charge if they can to use it.

What are you hoping to accomplish with the song "Red"?

Move people, inspire them. Look, if they just dig the tune and enjoy driving and listening to it, great, but if it can get people thinking passionately about (RED) or MPH and what they can do to help, even better. That's all we can ask of a rock song, a single, as it were. Hey, it's only rock 'n' roll, or is it?

You also have a song called "Lazarus Effect" about the AIDS crisis. What inspired this song?

The actual medical term "Lazarus Effect," which is what happens when AIDS meds are given to a dying person at death's door due to HIV/AIDS—literally from death bed to up and walking around, working, feeding your family in a month. Back from the dead, a miracle like Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I found the two images too powerful not to write about them.

Your band gave out copies of the new album at U2's Canadian shows last year. Where did that idea come from? What kind of reaction did you got from U2 fans?

Well, first off, not our idea. It was a mad U2 fan from Ottawa who was a MPH volunteer who heard our songs on our website and, when "Lazarus Effect" came out, decided to order a bunch of CDs online and give them out. He also got us involved in a poverty symposium in Ottawa. He couldn't work out a way to get us out to play there, sadly, but had us do a video feed and we were off and running.

As for U2 fans response, mostly great, supportive, very kind. I think some were leery of us, and understandably so. They didn't know our history with the campaign, as far as they knew we could be using extreme poverty as a way to break the band. But actually we had lost money, not made money so far. We are lifers for this war on extreme stupid poverty. "Keep My Peace" is a song I wrote about this issue back 2000, it sums up our feelings on this front.

I have to say U2 fans are not like any other fans; they really are a community, a family, and if WHY can get people moved and united as U2 has, we will see that as our greatest success. I have met so many bands obsessed with "making it" or what they mean is, "When we're famous men, then we will blah, blah, blah," that's the top for them, the pinnacle, the goal. Fame isn't our goal. Yes, it's a platform to be heard, a springboard, but it's not the Promised Land. Our goal is to do music full time and use fame as a tool to continue to push the envelope in songwriting. It's a tool to use to swing the spotlight off of us and onto our family in Africa, Asia, and the developing world who are dying every three seconds for a lack of what we call pocket change, coffee money. And, yes, I call these people around the world "our family" because we are all connected. If a distant relative is ill or in need you still step up and help. Well, they are our sisters and our brothers as I sing in "Lazarus Effect."

Your band has a MySpace page. What kind of impact is that site having on your band and its mission?

Yes, we have recently taken over a WHY fan MySpace site and it has been almost frightening how fast the world has come to us. It is a wonderful thing. I know some have had issues with MySpace but it has been a great networking tool and MySpace is a big supporter of (RED).

As for "our mission," as you put it, our mission is to keep writing honest songs, no matter how uncomfortable or naked we feel. WHY is a band that has come from the grassroots of this issue (extreme poverty), we are like everyone else who saw the need and said, "I will not keep my peace, cannot keep my peace while this continues." This is a global mission; this is our fight.

Do you believe music can help change the world?

Music can inspire people to change the world. I hope that is the case with our songs. Let's be real here, people, everyday people, change the world, not movie stars or rock stars or world leaders, regular people have and will change our world.

For more information on WHY, visit the band's website or MySpace page. More information on (RED) can be found on its website or MySpace page. More information on The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria can be found on its website. More information on Make Poverty History can be found on its website. More information on World Vision can be found on its website. More information on 30 Hour Famine can be found on its website.

Many thanks to John McAuley and Brian Cook for their help with this article.

- Interference.com

"CD Review RED Dublin's Music Review"

WHY “RED” Review
WHY a four piece Canadian rock band causing a stir in the independent scene with the release of their album Red, creating some harmonic pop and rock melodies on this 12 track album with many critics finding their sound like U2 but I will have to agree to a certain point I think they have a great sound more progressive than most bands in this genre with some fantastic vocals and catchy radio tunes, the lyrics have a real deep poetic touch to them very close to Inxs and Simple minds this is one group with the potential of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the music scene …superb stuff
Review by T.

RANK: ****** 6 out of 6
- Dublin's Music Review.Com

"Arts & Culture Rocking Out For A Cause"

For some, a desire for celebrity and financial success are what drive their will to create. For others, success is a minor detail – a footnote in a much larger picture of artistic honesty and creativity.

Brian Cook, vocalist for Winnipeg rock band WHY, falls into this latter category. Over the course of the band’s 13-year career, Why has become increasingly vocal about global issues such as poverty, hunger and water quality.

On the subject of those issues, Cook has more than plenty to say. Over the course of his career as a radio personality, he has honed his conversational skills into a seamless suit of armor. Get him talking on a subject he’s passionate about and it can be almost impossible to get a word in.

“People write what they know or what they feel, and right now what I feel is outrage at the fact that there are children dying at an alarming rate just because of drinking water…things that we here take for granted,” he said recently by phone from his Winnipeg home.

"If you’re completely open and boldfaced and [if you] lay your heart on the table, it makes people uncomfortable because people aren’t used
to honesty.” –Brian Cook, musician and radio host

Rounded out by Derek James on drums, Greg Barre on bass and new recruit Paul Vieira on guitar, the band released its latest single, “We Started Out (Somebody’s Baby),” this past week. The track will be featured on the website for Watercan, a Canadian charity that is actively involved in helping impoverished communities gain access to clean water.

Andrea Helfer, public engagement co-ordinator at Watercan, said the organization believes that the involvement of artists in global causes can bring about actual change.

“We feel that bands and celebrities have an immense ability to bring social justice issues to the public’s attention and to inspire people, particularly youth, to take action to help bring about positive change in this world,” Helfer said by e-mail.

WHY also donated a portion of the sales from their 2005 record, The Lazarus Effect, to Make Poverty History, while a portion of the sales from 2007’s Red goes towards supporting Watercan’s efforts in West Africa. Indeed, WHY seem more concerned with raising awareness about global injustice than they do about becoming the latest fad.

Cook said he’s aware that his honesty and vocal stance on issues can alienate would-be fans and even band members.

“If you’re completely open and boldfaced and [if you] lay your heart on the table, it makes people uncomfortable because people aren’t used to honesty.”

And with honesty comes attention, which often attracts criticism. Cook said that he has seen WHY posters with ‘I think I’m Bono’ scrawled above his picture.

“Cynicism is a comfortable coat… you wanna make a difference, you’re going to get spit on, you’re going to get made fun of and people are going to toss rocks at you…so what? In the end, someone’s life is affected.

“We’re not the coolest band around, but hopefully we’ll always be honest.”

To hear “We Started Out (Somebody’s Baby),” visit www.myspace.com/whyy.
- UNITER Magazine

"Canadian Indie Band With ALOT Of Heart"

A Canadian indie rock band with a lot of heart
April 9, 3:25 PM · 3 comments
ShareThis Feed
As the Red River flooded in North Dakota last week, lead singer of Why, Brian Cook, couldn’t help but reflect on how his community in Winnipeg was contributing to relief across the border, “Ya know, even one more sandbag is still one more thing helping prevent further flooding… I’m a strong believer in the more you give, the more you get back.”

Yes, that could be the same old malarkey that any person could spout off to make themselves look better. However, Why actually follows through with their philanthropic stances as is evident by the fact that they donated 40% of the money they earned from their album Red to WaterCan, a Canadian charity building access to clean water resources for impoverished areas around the world. Additionally, Why has raised money for The Global Fund, a United Nations’ organization that works in the battle against AIDS.

Cook retells the story of a woman from Germany who contacted the band through Myspace. Her message to Why explained how she stopped cutting herself when she listened to their song, “The Surface”. He finishes his yarn with, “The people that the songs have touched are the real success.” It’s that mentality, that helping one person changes the world for that person, that sets Why apart. Cook says, “When you are a kid, you think you can change the world. As you get older, you start to think you can’t. I think we need to reconnect with that kid.” Cook and his band use their music to change the world through any means possible.

As an indie Canadian rock band, the USA and Europe are what Cook calls, “the promise land” where one can achieve the kind of success that Arcade Fire or Feist have experienced. Yet listening to Cook talk about getting into music so that he could “communicate with an audience,” and how he makes music because, “I don’t want anyone to feel left out when they listen to our or when they are at our shows,” makes the gold-flecked image of mainstream popularity seem unimportant. As Why works on “pushing the boundaries and reinventing” their music, their song “The Surface” was featured on EDUN Clothing’s Myspace page. Furthermore, Ray Zahab, a runner from the documentary Running the Sahara, has commissioned Why to compose some music for his upcoming documentary about running in the South Pole.

While the proceeds from Red might not have been astronomical when compared to some of the music industry’s highest earning albums, the money that Why gave to WaterCan helped one more child somewhere in this world drink a cold glass of water. A woman in Germany gets through her day a little easier and without hurting herself. “You aren’t famous, why are you wasting time on social justice instead of trying to be cool,” is a common question posed to Cook and Why, to which he responds, “I’m not interested in being a rock star. I’m not trying to be Bono. I know I have limitations but I’m really thankful because I get to wake up every morning and make music.” It might not seem like much, but afterall , it’s another sandbag holding back the floodwaters.

- Denver Examiner


*WHY recently finished a new single called" We Started Out"helping to raise donations for Watercan a Canadian agency that helps bring fresh water to East African Communities

"Lazarus Effect" - 2006
"ROCK FOR A REASON - Artists United For African AIDS Relief" - 2003 (feat: Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven, 54-40, and WHY)
"The Rise and Fall of the Question Mark" - 2002
"The Naked Soul" - 1995

Singles: Red, The Surface, Lazarus Effect, To Be Human, Rewind/Erase, Petrolhead,Big Thunder No Rain



WHY first took shape in 1995 in Winnipeg Manitoba, when Brian Cook (vocalist) chose to see his musical ideas take form. Quickly rounding up some of the best players the local scene had to offer, they recorded their first album THE NAKED SOUL, and followed it with 2002's THE RISE AND FALL OF THE QUESTION MARK, which drew fans and critics alike to their energy-fueled live shows.

As years passed and other commitments took hold, Brian continued to write and began to dedicate time to Make Poverty History. First introduced to the idea by heroes Bono (U2) and Bob Geldof (LIVE AID, LIVE 8, Boomtown Rats), Cook felt the need to use his music to raise awareness to the staggering true fact that a child dies due to extreme poverty every 3 seconds.

Now WHY finds themselves re-invented with a new, powerful lineup. To bring both fans and critics back to attention, WHY recorded "THE LAZARUS EFFECT" (a medical term for the turnaround that AIDS victims have when put on AIDS meds), which finds the band at their best, and also serves as a fitting allegory to the fate of the band. Rising from what once was and starting over again, Cook and company are poised to make an impressive and stirring comeback.

Copies of the LAZARUS EFFECT album, the title song having already received air play in major markets across Canada, were also given out before U2 concerts in Ottawa and Montreal and were made available at Make Poverty History and on-line at CDBABY.COM. A portion of the proceeds from the album went directly to the charity and the album's artwork featured heartbreaking photographs all supplied by Make Poverty History. The album itself featured newly remixed and/or re-recorded tracks, the new single, as well as a video recorded for the track, "Keep My Peace". The album also offers links to the Make Poverty History websites as well as an interview Cook did with Shaw TV.

With their new album RED coming, lineup and songwriting in hand, WHY continues to raise awareness for both themselves as well as Make Poverty History. The band are in post production for the new full-length CD, RED. The single (and title track) "RED" is now being serviced to radio worldwide. "RED" sat a #1 on the KICK FM Winnipeg Top 40 for 4 weeks in a row, and was named "Song of the Year". Now the B-side on the "RED" single, "The Surface", has started to chart, hitting #1 on KICK FM and #5 on THE Q FM in Victoria, BC.

Yes WHY is not signed to a major label,(yet) but the songs on WHY’s latest album “RED” can not be over looked
Visit WHY at MYSPACE www.myspace.com/whyy