The Town Heroes kept busy touring and recording
-by John Gillis
Mike Ryan of Inverness (left) and Bruce Gillis of Mabou are the Town Heroes. The band is based out of Halifax. (Contributed photo)
“We’ve been overseas three times in the past sixteen months,” said Mike Ryan, one-half of the Town Heroes, as he sipped on a cup of tea at Coal Miners Café in Inverness last week.
Ryan and his musical partner, Bruce Gillis, have just returned from a tour of Finland during November and December. Prior to that trip they also played dates in England and Germany.
The Finland tour is just one payoff from a series of musical showcases the band has had in recent years.
“We played a festival called The Great Escape in England and had a showcase there. We met a number of industry people who came out to see us play, and that led to making some Finnish contacts where we signed with a booking agent, a concert promoter and a music publisher. They’re going to be shopping our music around to radio, commercials and television shows,” said Ryan.
The Town Heroes left Nova Scotia November 19th for Finland and returned December 2nd. Ryan says Music Nova Scotia has been a great resource as well and has done a lot to help create opportunities for his band.
“We played nine shows in a variety of bar venues. It was intense being in a different city each day and taking the trains. Some nights we were on a bill with other bands, but other nights it was just ourselves. We had a great response. We sold a lot of CDs and merchandise, and the Finnish audiences really enjoyed our original music. It was a lot of fun meeting many like-minded people who are big music fans, and I’ve got a pretty good knowledge of Finnish geography now,” Ryan added with a smile.
The past year has really raised the profile of the Town Heroes as well, not only beyond Nova Scotia but in Halifax where the band is based.
The Town Heroes faired extremely well in The Coast Magazine’s annual poll, winning Best Band to Be Blown Away By, Best Male Songwriter and Most Likely to Make it Big. They were also nominated by Music Nova Scotia for Digital Artist of the Year and Video of the Year for 2012.
“Being on the cover of a publication with such a large circulation certainly doesn’t hurt. It gives us a profile with people who might not otherwise hear our music,” Ryan added.
The band has a show coming up at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax on February 2nd, and they will be showcasing again at the East Coast Music Awards in Halifax in mid-March and at the Canadian Music Week in Toronto in late March.
Ryan says the Town Heroes are also putting the finishing touches on a new CD called Sunday Movies which will feature a new batch of original material.
“We’ll be booking some more dates to promote the new album, and we hope to bring one of those release shows home to Inverness County,” said Ryan.
As for the title of the new recording, Ryan says he tries to always write daily and about things that are currently going on in his life, whether that be about events, friends, family relationships or other subjects that perk an interest.
“I’ve always sort of thought of Sundays as a day to reflect on the previous week, and I imagined many of these songs as particular stories, so the title comes from there. I have a backlog of written material so we try to find songs that will work well together thematically for an album,” he added.
Ryan also says the band is looking forward to doing another tour of Finland later in the year.
“They’ve invited us back to play some festivals this year, so that should be a lot more fun,” he added.
Ryan says playing music with Gillis now for some eight years or so has led them to explore their sound, and they tend to feel it’s best described as alternative rock.
To find out more about the Town Heroes visit their website at www.townheroes.com.
You’ll find tour dates and merchandise and a humourous blog that the guys produce to help keep their fans entertained.
Here’s a sampling of what you might find on their blog – i.e. pictures of Finnish fans, a ball hockey challenge to fellow musicians Blue Rodeo and more:
“He (one of our fans) said that he could see our passion and that he actually started to tear up during our set because he could see how much we loved what we were doing. We might not be the biggest band in the world, or even in our own province or city, but if we can have that kind of effect on someone 6000 km from home, then that makes it worth it. It makes everything you’ve ever done to be a musician justified,” writes Mike and Bruce.
The Town Heroes keep on rockin’.
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