For those of us who weren’t there, music scenes have a romantic, almost mythic quality. Anyone who loves Nirvana has almost certainly worn a plaid shirt and wondered if we’ll ever have another Seattle.
But the infinite power of the Internet has changed local music scenes, at least enough to inspire a 2010 article in the Guardian to ask, “Has the internet killed local music scenes?”
Well, no. Local scenes may not be based on a specific sound in the way they used to be (like the grunge explosion), but they will always be vital and important. At least according to New Hands, a young, upcoming Hamilton band.
“There may be different scenes, but no one is working against each other,” said Pat O’Brien, the guitarist. “It feels like a community, basically.”
Hamilton’s diverse music scenes are about supporting bands, whatever they sound like.
“Young Rival have been really good to us,” said O’Brien. “They’ve given good advice about what not to do.”
“I’ve heard from them to never play in Regina,” said Spence Newell, the singer. “They played with Hollerado in Regina, and there were thirty people.”
“And that was apparently a better Regina show,” said O’Brien. “Like thirty people was a more significant crowd in Regina. Keep in mind that’s for Hollerado, a big Canadian act. And Young Rival does well too.”
Before New Hands were learning from big Hamilton bands, they were a high school Christian rock band called The Social Workers. Except not really.
“We went to a Catholic high school, the three of us,” said Ben Munoz, who plays guitar and synthesizer and occasionally sings. “We invited Gordy Bond, our drummer, to jam, and he was kind of reluctant about it, but he came anyways. Someone said we were a Christian rock band as a joke, and he thought it was real. Obviously he realized really quick that we’re not a super religious band.”
The New Hands of today sound like the soundtrack to a late night in a city far in the future. They combine elements of the moody post-punk bass and drumming of New Order with the effortless cool of the Strokes (back when the Strokes were effortlessly cool). The addition of Bond as the drummer was an important part of New Hands developing their sound, and on September 16 they had another defining moment as a band. They sold their first song.
“This is hilarious,” said Newell. “On Bandcamp, we’ve always made our music free, and finally when we released ‘Whichever Way You’ll Have It,’ which is still free, the two songs we released beforehand, ‘This I’ve Heard’ and ‘Tulips,’ we made cost 99 cents. And then someone bought our music, for the first time.”
“We didn’t know the person,” said O’Brien. “He didn’t buy both of our songs, though. He just liked one.”
“So we got 15 cents out of it,” said Newell. “We each made 3 cents.”
“We got fifteen cents from it?” exclaimed Munoz. “Holy cow, they’re scamming us.”
“It was nice, at least,” said Newell. “It’s a good feeling.”
New Hands will soon have more songs to add to their Bandcamp page. Over the next few months they will slowly be recording their first album, which they hope will be finished by early 2013.