When Toronto’s famed North By Northeast (NXNE) festival takes place this June, McMaster will have a few alumni taking part in the musical proceedings.
Aside from being McMaster graduates, Mikey Hill (lead vocals), Kohji Nagata (electric/slide guitar, other instruments), and Emily Anderson are all bound together by the fact that they are part of The Maladies of Adam Stokes, a burgeoning folk-rock outfit that has been together for five years. The trio are joined by Brett Harris (bass), Josh Awerbuck (lead guitar), and Ted Turner (drums).
Since the band’s inception in 2009, The Maladies have made a niche for themselves in what can seem like an oversaturated scene of hipsters moaning about their feelings while clad in flannel.
Their first ever show took place in humble surroundings at Toronto’s The Central.
Reflecting on the memorable gig, Hill said the entire deal was “hilarious.” To some extent, his observation can be taken literally as The Central doubles as a comedy venue and The Maladies’ were preceded by several comedians on the night of their performance.
“Some people were there to see the comedians, while others were there for the musicians. Everyone hung out and got along really well. It was interesting because it’s such a small venue and there were six of us jammed up on the stage, which made it even more intense.”
Since that show, The Maladies have gotten a lot of mileage under their belt touring Canada. Nagata explained that this was an eye-opening experience for the group, most of whom had been in bands before but had never taken an album out on the road.
“When you first start playing music in a band, you think, ‘Oh, it’d be really cool to go out on tour someday’. So being able to go across the East coast of Canada and play basically every night was really fun and exciting. I think it has refined our live show, but that’s hard to say with any sort of confidence because it’s like watching yourself grow; you don’t notice that you’ve grow about a quarter of an inch when you see yourself in the mirror everyday. But if you listen to our original recordings versus the way that we play now, there’s a stark contrast.”
The record that The Maladies were touring behind was their 2012 debut, City of Trees. At 10 songs, the album is easily digestible especially when considering the sparse, intimate nature of the recordings.
Anderson, Nagata, and Hill and the rest of the band are currently at work on their sophomore record and hope to have a few new songs ready for their June 20 NXNE show at Tranzac Club.