Four bands, one winner. On Mar. 26, McMaster’s newly born folk band He Flew The Coop rocked Last Band Standing and took the prize, a full recording package from Threshold Recording Studio in downown Hamilton.

The story of He Flew The Coop started in Hedden Hall, where Ben Rafuse (vocals/guitar) and Michael Podlovics (violin/guitar) first shared their love of music and started jamming. With Podlovics being from a more electronic side of music, and Rafuse coming from the folk genre, the pair had lots of potential for interesting collaborations.

Not too long after they started taking music more seriously, Podlovics’ fellow engineer friend Francesca Altobeli (backup/vocals) joined the pair with her crystal clear vocals. The band then found 16-year-old jazz playing Ben Duff (standup bass) through a friend. He Flew the Coop was then ready to leave the nest. Their first stop was McMaster’s Last Band Standing.

“The first thing I thought was, lets take a chance,” Rafuse said, as he remembered seeing the Last Band Standing posters start to go up around campus. The newly put together band took a leap into the McMaster and Hamilton music scene by signing up to compete.

“It was really a step out of our comfort zone,” the group said. “We don’t have a lot of experience under our belt.”

It helped, however, that Rafuse was songwriter, Podlovics and Duff had a classical background, and Altobeli was a member of the Hamilton Opera. “We whipped it up pretty quickly,” said Podlovics.

After making it through the first round, He Flew The Coop prepared for the finals at TwelvEighty. Given that this was the first time all four members would perform together live, they didn’t know exactly what to expect.

They shared the stage with well known Hamilton bands The Bandicoots, Billy Moon, and Day Drunk. “The other bands were really great. They were also very welcoming,” said Podlovics and Rafuse.

He Flew The Coop were the last to take the stage. Their set was full of spot-on harmonies, and the violinist even added some different levels by jumping on a chair. “Standing on chairs,” said Podlovics, “I don’t know where that came from.”

Then it was time for the judges to make their decision. “We ended up winning it,” said Podlovics, with some disbelief. The band is stoked to be recording at Threshold Recording Studio downtown in the near future.

So keep an eye out. He Flew The Coop is taking flight.

Photo c/o Véronique Giguère