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Toronto: Critical

The Toronto-based band's goal is to forever keep their music polished, perfected, and rockin'.

Photo credits: Alysha LeDrew

Together for four years, Critical are a band of the 21st century- discovering one another through online networking.

"We met through my ad," said Justin Paul, Critical's guitarist. "I was basically looking for musicians who held the same caliber, or standards as me, musically. I met Paul first."

(Left to right: Justin Paul, Paul Risk.)

"It was about three paragraphs long, and I read the whole thing top to bottom," said drummer Paul Risk. "I was like, "This guy seems like he's serious." So I emailed him, gave him my phone number, and like two seconds later he calls me."

"I was like, "Can you jam today?" said Paul. "And he was like, "I can't today, but I can tomorrow." Then we jammed, and it was great. Then began the process of finding the other members."

"They also found me online, on Kijiji," said bassist Ben Yntema.

"We found Eddie at an open mic- I think there were like, three people there," said Paul.

Eddie Stone is the vocalist of the group. "They had been looking for a singer for a long time before they found me, about nine months," said Stone.

(Left to right: Eddie Stone, Paul Risk, Justin Paul, Ben Yntema.)

"We had started going to a bunch of different venues with open mics to find people singing, and we didn't find anybody," said Risk. "At the end of this one unsuccessful night, I pulled out my phone to look at some local restaurants to grab dinner, and the first thing that comes up was Spaghetti Factory. We walk in, and we see Justin's friend setting up to play. We went over and told him what we were doing, he calls up Eddie, and he drove over and played for us- I couldn't even eat my food because my jaw hit the floor."

"When I did join the band they had about 8 or 9 songs ready to go," said Stone. "So we just jumped right in. It took me a couple months to get the hang of it, but once we did, we basically went into the studio right away."

The rockers want to make sure their art always lives up to their personal standards, that's why they decided to call themselves "Critical".

"It just sounded right," said Risk. "Names are overrated to begin with, because it doesn't really mean anything at the end of the day. The idea is that we'd hold every aspect of this band to such a standard, that we'd be very "critical" of every lyrical and musical aspect. Besides that, it just sounded cool."

Photo credits: Codrina Ibanescu

The alt-rock band pulls from a diverse group of inspirations, such as blues, jazz, heavy metal, grunge, and classic rock.

"I think one inspiration that we can all agree on is basically anything Chris Cornell touched," said Stone. "From a singer's perspective, obviously I can't do what he did, but it's something to aspire to, including that humility."

Recording Critical's first studio album, "Beauty in Extremes", was a memorable experience for the band.

"It was interesting," said Stone. "We found a weird guy in Trenton, went down to his studio in his house-"

"-in the middle of nowhere, by the way," said Yntema. "Like one house in the middle of nothing, just surrounded by trees."

"It was an interesting process," said Stone. "The guy was interesting, but we got it done, begrudgingly. We finished it in about a month. I think we each had a different experience, I know for me it was really special to have something physically created that I can be proud of. It's nice to know that if I pass away tomorrow, you can play my album. I also got to dedicate it to two very special people in my life, my grandparents."

The guys are working on their second album, and aren't about to spill any details.

"For our upcoming album, we're going for a red and white theme," said Stone. "Beyond that, you'll have to stay tuned and wait until we release it- it's hard to describe the concept in just a few words."

Looking into the future, Critical are focusing on playing more gigs in the GTA.

"The home-base for us is mainly the Toronto area," said Yntema. "Sneaky Dee's, Horseshoe Tavern, stuff like that."

"We all have full-time jobs to pay the bills," said Risk. "But ultimately, we'd like to keep playing for the rest of our lives, and go international."

You can find any and all updates on Critical by visiting .

Upcoming gigs:

July 20th 2019 @ Sneaky Dee's, 431 College St. Toronto, ON


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