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Sooke indie band taps into new popularity

Shale members surprised at how quickly their reputation and following have grown
Sooke alternative rock band Shale has a busy lineup heading into the fall with gigs planned for the South Island, including Edward Milne Community School in October. (Contributed - Serena Haley Photography)

Shale’s reputation for carving out cleverly crafted layers of alternative rock has led to a hectic end to August for the Sooke-based band.

The four songs on its debut EP titled Wither now total more than 40,000 streams on Spotify, with the single, To The Ground, growing to 10,000 streams from 4,000 since its release in January.

Adam Baines, the group’s guitarist, admits they’ve been surprised at how quickly their reputation and following have grown since they first got together in 2019.

“We didn’t expect this much success so quickly,” he said. “A lot of hard work and attention to social media has paid off.

“We’re not waiting for a big break; we’re going to make our own.”

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All of Shale’s members attended Edward Milne Community School, together or at different times. Keyboardist Rowan Hensley and drummer Michael Voytash worked as theatre technicians in musical productions at the school with bassist Breanna Montague. Baines and singer/lyricist Kiarra O’Connor hail from East Sooke and share a friendship that dates back to middle school.

Ironically, although Baines and Hensley grew up only three houses apart, neither knew about the other’s musical talents or aspirations until they joined Shale.

“Rowan’s background was more classical, and he’s entirely self-taught,” Baines said.

“Like many young players, listening to AC/DC and Metallica got me into guitar in the first place. “I got into blues as my tastes matured, people like B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan.”

Shale’s music encompasses different genres, and band members come from different musical backgrounds. It’s alt-rock with a vintage twist.

“We’re always looking to add new wrinkles and showcase each band member during our live shows. The performances can change from song to song; every set’s a little different,” Baines said.

Montague, the band’s newest member, was originally a guitar player but switched to bass when she joined Shale two years ago.

“The transition to bass was pretty easy,” she said, no doubt to the chagrin of bass players everywhere.

“I grew up very much into classic rock, and my dad’s music hugely influenced me. Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin were favourites for both of us.”

Although Montague’s been performing live since high school, adjusting to the band’s popularity and the surging number of followers has been a change.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking but pretty exciting,” she said.

O’Connor said the band has gone from being a hobby to being a business in a short period, based in part on the social media buzz their EP has created since its release in stages beginning in January.

“Local rock hero Jesse Roper was impressed by our music video for To The Ground,” she said. “He commented on social media that we are going in a cool direction and that our lead singer (O’Connor) has a vibe.”

Shale has circled Aug. 27 as an excellent opportunity to extend their reach when they headline a Victoria Event Centre concert that will include Vogue Villains and Faultline performances.

“Faultline’s another Sooke-based band people will talk about a lot in the future,” Montague said.

Shale has free concerts scheduled for Aug. 18 in Beacon Hill Park, Aug. 20 at Fisherman’s Wharf, and Aug. 28 on Broad Street in Victoria.

The band is also planning an October concert at Edward Milne Community School.

“We’re putting together some pretty exciting gigs shortly,” Baines added.

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About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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