The sun begins to set behind the blue haziness of Islington’s skyline as I exit Angel Underground Station. I am on my way to meet Canadian alternative rock band, Arkells for their London show at the Electrowerkz. I am eager to meet Canada’s band of choice for quality, well-thought, and authentic rock music: a rare talent in their own write. The Electrowerkz is tucked off of Islington’s major high street in a quiet, cobblestoned alleyway. Projected from the brick walls of the club is the sound of Arkells completing their sound check with the undeniably catchy hit, “Leather Jacket,” off of their latest LP, High Noon. The sound is undeniably electric and reveals the unique talents of each member of the group. I step inside.
Juno Award-winning band Arkells formed in Hamilton, Ontario during the member’s freshman year at McMaster University in 2006. The band consists of five members, including front man Max Kerman, lead guitarist Mike DeAngelis, bassist Nick Dika, percussionist Tim Oxford, and keyboardist Anthony Carone. Kerman, Dika, and DeAngelis met at McMaster Welcome Week, going on to discover their similar taste in music. “I went to school hoping to start a band, trying to profile people who looked like they may want to play music,” Kerman reflects. “I was really lucky. One of the hardest things about being a musician is finding other kindred spirits to connect with,” Kerman explains.
When asked about his musical influences, Kerman thinks long about his answer and finally responds with “a number of Beatles records, which was the music that my dad first showed me when I was about four.” Kerman, who finds inspiration in all genres and eras of music, is especially inspired by The Beatles, particularly George Harrison’s “Something” off of the iconic 1969 album, Abbey Road. Smiling, Kerman remembers watching The Beatles film, Help! “nearly a hundred times” as a child with his family. Apart from music, Kerman is consistently inspired by politics, people who have endured hardship, and smart, hardworking, honest people. “There is definitely a sensibility in our music that is down to earth,” Kerman says, “I appreciate human connection.”
Arkells recently wrapped up their European leg of the High Noon tour, which was promoting their LP, High Noon. The band will play more shows in North America in the New Year after a few weeks in the studio working on material for their next album. “Hopefully we have new music by next year,” Kerman says smiling,” and then we will start it all up again. We will have some surprises, we are always trying to keep the set list fresh for the audience and us.” Like most bands, Arkells have their own back-stage traditions, “we always do a hands in,” Kerman laughs “and every show it is different. Looking back I wish I had logged each of them, usually they have something to do with the day we had.”
Since everyone was a startup once, I ask Kerman for any advice he could provide for bands that are just starting out. “Number one,” Kerman begins, “don’t get discouraged.” Kerman explains how easy it is to quit in an industry where the word “no” is heard frequently. “I can tell you, to this day, Arkells gets turned down for all sorts of things,” Kerman laughs. He emphasizes the importance of a good attitude and the ability to move on from and not dwell on the letdowns, which are inevitable. “Also, try to surround yourself with people you like,” Kerman adds. “I personally think that is why Arkells has persisted as long as we have, we all like and respect each other,” Kerman says with positivity.
Arkells have an undeniably bright future ahead of themselves in the music industry, but where do they see themselves in five years? “Owning a successful chain of Wok to Walks,” Kerman jokes. “I would honestly love to just keep growing and making music and touring,” Kerman says. “I would also love the shows to look different visually,” Kerman says with vision. One evening with Arkells is all it takes to learn that its members are energetic performers, down to Earth, and talented to the core. Ladies and gentlemen, Arkells are certainly going places.