By: Vanessa Polojac
The Bandicoots took their haunting bass-driven sounds and low vocals to another sold-out show at Baltimore House. The quartet, all native Hamiltonians, hope to focus their efforts on another year of local shows, and their upcoming EP.
Despite only forming in 2014, Justin Ross (guitar & vocals), Lorant Polya (bass), Andrew Parkinson (drums) and Nicolai Kozel (guitar) have made themselves a household name across Hamilton over the past three years at venues such as the Casbah, This Ain’t Hollywood and Baltimore House.
They group formed out of their shared love for early British alt-rock groups such as The Last Shadow Puppets.
They combined the nonchalant rocker attitude of Alex Turner, the lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys with popular genres in Hamilton.
“We have known each other loosely since Grade 6 or 7. We formally met many years later at a house party in downtown Hamilton,” Ross explained. “There was a drum set and a few guitars. That’s when [Parkinson] and I started jamming covers of songs from bands like The Strokes and the Arctic Monkeys. The other guys joined us shortly after.”
Their first EP, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things was mastered by Grammy-winning Brian Lucey, who has worked with bands such as The Black Keys and Arctic Monkeys. Lucey polished their songs and guided them towards the British alt-rock sound they had been strongly influenced bywhile helping them find their individuality as a band.
“The EP was produced by Michael Keire who knew [Lucey] and he got our EP mastered by him. It’s all about the connections,” said Polya.
The group also took their connections to the city when conceptualizing their sound and look, especially when it comes to creating their music videos.
Both singles “Mind Your Manors” and “Overnight Innovator” feature Jackson Square and Westdale Village respectively.
They also secured a key space at Threshold Studios when recording their album and have befriended many local Hamilton bands in the scene.
Ross, currently in his fourth year at McMaster studying English, writes all of his own melodies and lyrics while taking inspiration from McMaster classrooms. Sitting through countless hours in lectures he always finds a way to incorporate his studies to his music.
The Bandicoots’ most recent single “Overnight Innovator” is based around the character Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello and is one example of how literature impacts The Bandicoots’ music.
“In one of the first-year courses that I was taking at McMaster there was a comma usage lecture and the prof used the sentence ‘No turn off red,’ and he explained that where you put the comma was the key factor for what the sentence meant. When I heard that, I wrote the sentence down right away and put it in one of our songs,” explained Ross.
“I read a lot in and outside of school and it effects my writing a lot. I use my own personal experience when writing as well, but after reading all of these great novels I had to take inspiration from them. The English and musical world intertwine together.”
While their ability to bridge the classroom with the musical affected the band in many positive ways but there is also a negative side. In the past, they have not spent as much a time as they would like when conceptualizing the music, however the group hopes to change that for the new year.
“2017 should be a great year. We’re being given much more time in the studio and plan to focus on the band more than ever before,” said Poyla.
The Bandicoots’ new EP is tentatively set for release later in 2017, with a string of local shows to be announced in the future.