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Detour’s road to Battle of the Bands 2017 McMaster band competition winners recall their high school roots and alt-rock aspirations

When Detour played their set at the Casbah for McMaster’s Battle of the Bands finals this year, they did not expect to win.

Although they had supporters in the crowd, they realized that the venue had hit maximum capacity due to the amount of people their competitors drew to the audience.

Despite their pessimism, Detour earned a surprise win.

Comprised of Emman Alavata, Victor Zhang, Marco Goldblatt and Jaden Raso, the fresh-faced power pop outfit is the quintessential edgy, gritty, practice-in-mom’s-garage boy band from the high school days of yesteryear.

Detour started in the hallways of Westdale Secondary School, where Alavata walked into the wrong classroom in Grade 9 and ended up discussing the Foo Fighters with Zhang for the duration of that class.

Detour has credited their success as a band to the supportive atmosphere of Hamilton’s music scene, where venues like the Casbah and This Ain’t Hollywood book artists of a wide variety of styles and at varying stages of their careers.

“Arkells, [Counterparts, Teenage Head, The Dirty Nil]… all of these bands have set the bar so high… but [the supportive community in Hamilton really helps]… I remember [Brodie Schwendiman] from the Casbah booking us to open for Dear Rouge when we just started out… we went up to them a year ago and they still remembered us,” said Alavata.

Since the band’s inception in 2014, Detour has released 19 songs in total through several EPs and their debut full-length album.

The group describes their music as happy/sad power pop, referencing their heavy power pop influences and how their music seems happy at first but is actually quite sad in nature.

Detour’s music derives from a mix of personal narratives and occasionally unconventional topics that reflect the stage of life they are at.

This combination and their relatable ethos has garnered them a supportive following.

“Arkells, [Counterparts, Teenage Head, The Dirty Nill]… all of these bands have set the bar so high… but [the supportive community in Hamilton really helps.]”
Emman Alvata
Detour

“I think the most memorable moment [in our career as a band] was sometime in April of last year when we were playing our song ‘By the Fire’… everybody in the audience started to sing along and none of us [on stage] expected that at all,” said Alavata.“It felt so good.”

“That was the first time I felt like everyone in the room — us on the stage and [the audience] in the crowd — was connected through song,” said Zhang.

Before Detour, their band name was Mexican Fajitas Squad.

All of their social media handles still contain the abbreviation, “MFS,” as an ode to their humble beginnings.

The band members are all fans of artists like Bon Iver and Gorillaz.

They practice and record in Zhang’s basement. Some of their members are still attending high school, but their love for making music together resonates.

This air of relatable humility that gives Detour such a refreshing quality: they take their craft seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously.

One day, they hope to sign with Dine Alone Records. But for now, they’re just kicking back and preparing to represent McMaster at the Battle of the Bands Provincials in a few short weeks.

“For me, [the hope is] just for more people to hear our songs… I’m really happy when we get even the smallest positive comment about our music because [music is such a big part of all of our lives]… our goal is to just have more people hear our stuff, for more people to truly enjoy it,” said Zhang.

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