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Hamilton: Shade

This grungy five-piece are itching to get back on the road.

Photo credits: Oh Sierra (Left to right: Senecal-Tremblay, Cozens, Royle, Lamothe. Middle: Rashid)

Vocalist Stephane Senecal-Tremblay, guitarists Sam Rashid and Zakk Cozens, bassist Sean Royle, and drummer Zander Lamothe make up Shade- a five-piece rock band from Hamilton. Listening to their recent album release Combat Rave, you're transported back to the alternative sound of the 90s, echoing the styles of heavy hitters like The Smashing Pumpkins and Oasis.

Guitarist Cozens was interested in music at an early age, as his father was a musician.

Photo credits: Scott Waring

"I was always trying to keep the beat to my parent's favourite music, leading to them gifting me my first little Ludwig junior-sized drum kit at the age of five," said Cozens. "From then on I was spending a lot of my playtime taking lessons or playing the kit. Around 11 or so is when I picked up the guitar. My father taught me all the basics- chords, Pentatonic scale, and what-not. After I got all that down is when I really opened up to music. At the age of 13 I remember convincing friends who never played music to start learning, because all I wanted to do was cover songs from my favourite artists; Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, T. Rex, Iggy Pop, and so on, but in a full band setting."

Lamothe had a similar music oriented childhood. He says he couldn't see music not being a part of his life.

Photo credits: Scott Waring

"My father is a musician, so I was raised around stages and recording studios most of my life," said Lamothe. "I believe I was around 13 or 14 years-old when I seriously began to pursue music as a career. I love playing music, so no matter what I do in my life, I couldn't see music not being a part of it."

The bandmates met through one another, as most of them had been buddies for years.

"It’s kind of funny, we’ve all known one another for a very long time, but didn’t start playing together as Shade until much more recently," said Rashid. "Zander and I have known each other since we were super young, and we played in a band together when we were 13 or so. I’ve also known Zakk since we were young punks. Sean and Zander have been friends and in bands for years, and Stephane and I have been friends since the ninth grade. We’ve been writing music together, skating, and pretty much everything else under the sun since."

Thankfully, the bandmates all had a similar style.

"Before we started Shade, we all got along really well and had similar interests to begin with," said Rashid. "So when it came to doing Shade and writing songs and bringing the project to life, it was a natural progression and unified vision. We’ve never talked about a vision for the band though or set a trajectory, but there are unspoken things we just kind of do. Like, we wear all black at shows, we listen to rocking music to get pumped up, we listen to funny podcasts in the car on tour, we all stand for the same things. It’s just Shade. Our vision is Shade."

Becoming Shade was a relaxed process, according to Senecal-Tremblay.

"It was a pretty chill process to get the band together," said Senecal-Tremblay. "Sam and I had been playing in bands together on and off since high school. Our old band had an existing recording contract and we had lots of new songs to record but nobody to play them. So it didn’t take much time for us to talk with friends and figure out who was down to join. Zander has been a good friend since high school, and we bumped into him one night and started talking about him joining on drums. We had also been talking to Zakk for some time about him joining on guitar. For a while our friend Mackenzie was on bass but he had to travel super far to jam, so eventually our friend Sean joined. Sean is a champ!"

The title "Shade" comes from one of Senecal-Tremblay's major musical influences.

"The band name comes from a Vines song, "Autumn Shade II"," said Senecal-Tremblay. "Kind of a dark, dreamy ballad that’s been very close to my heart since I was a kid."

"Controller" was the first Shade single.

"That came out in June of 2018 I believe," said Senecal-Tremblay. "At the time it was our least favourite song on the album, but somehow seemed to be the perfect first single. Nice riff and a big chorus so it gets the point across!"

Shade met their current label, Sleepless Records, when the brand approached them during a gig.

"Stephane and I played in a band before Shade and were signed to their subsidiary label, The Hand Recordings," said Rashid. "We had met them after playing a show at the Horseshoe Tavern one night, and I guess we’d been making some noise in the scene. They just kind of came up to us after the show and said they wanted to work with us. We put out quite a bit of material with them over a few years. Then when that project ended near the beginning of 2017, me and Stephane continued writing together and brought our new music to the team. They liked it and decided to put it out on Sleepless. The rest is history and still unfolding."

Photo credits: Scott Waring

When asked about the classic "made it" moment, Rashid says he's still waiting for it.

"I'm still waiting for the moment when I look out into a stadium and everyone is cheering for us, and I’m seeing it unfold in slow motion," said Rashid. "But throughout our short careers, there have been some pretty cool experiences that have felt like little “made it” moments to me. Like hearing our songs on legit radio stations in rotation, seeing our faces on the home page of Apple Music, playing a sold out show in Brighton, UK. Or just holding the record we made, on vinyl, and reading the lyrics on the back sleeve and looking at the all the photos on the inner sleeve- that’s some cool shit."

Royle found it hard to pick his favourite gig.

Photo credits: Natalie Wesselius

"I mean, any time in Montreal is the best time," said Royle. "We've got a good group of friends there and the parties are always great. New York City was a trip too! But fuck, I’d say my favourite show has got to be the first one. I joined the band and a week later I was playing Supercrawl. People were crowd surfing and moshing, all that stuff- I was into it. A few days after that we flew to the UK."

Shade released their first full-length album Combat Rave earlier this year.

"I’m just super proud of what we were able to create," said Rashid. "It’s something I can’t describe. When you have a demo, and then work on it, and build it up, and then record it. When you hear that back and you can literally hear the journey of that song and of those emotions, that’s what Combat Rave is for me. It’s truly a life’s worth of music up to this point in my life, and our lives, and I’m still awestruck by its physical and sonic form."

The band received nothing but support from their listeners.

Photo credits: Nate Belgrave

"The feedback has been great from it," said Rashid. "Lots of new fans are messaging us and are excited about the music we’re making, which is just wild. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to tour and play it for people because of the pandemic, so we’ve had to pivot our plans and figure out new ways to get it out there and to the people. But from people who’ve heard it, reception has been great."

The boys recorded as a team.

"The recording process of the album was a lot of fun," said Senecal-Tremblay. "We’d have the songs in demo stages and take them into the studio to show the producers. Depending on everyone’s vibe, we’d work a bit more on the songs as a team. Mostly just trying out new keys, different pedals and sounds. Sometimes we’d workshop a layout. Once we got that locked in we’d lay down bass and drums, scratch guitar and vocals, then start piling on the tracks from there."

"We just want to be able to tour soon," said Rashid. "Long term, it would be great to hit the road, all of us together again and just play rock n' roll, and have fun every day and night. Before we hit the road, which will be who knows when, we’ll probably record another album and do a proper two album tour. So, world domination in a sense. Shade is coming. Oh, and that sold out stadium show."

Shade is working on releasing new music videos.

"We’ve still got videos we need to finish for some album singles," said Senecal-Tremblay. "Hopefully we can get those finished soon and start working toward new music. We’ve got some b-sides as well we want to release, but who knows when that’ll be."

The Coronavirus shutdowns hit artists harder than most.

Photo credits: Nate Belgrave

"COVID-19 is affecting us as a band pretty much the same as it's affecting everyone else in the world, a lot of things are on hold until a further date," said Cozens. "Our debut album happened to release right in the middle of quarantine. Which of course held us back from the regular release show you would expect, and we cancelled our UK tour in May until sometime in the future."

Until venues re-open, the band is focusing on releasing new content and preparing to perform live again.

"We've had to refocus our efforts," said Lamothe. "We released the record in May, which we are extremely excited to have out and into our fans' hands, and it's been received incredibly well. We've already started working on songs for our next album, so we're excited to continue working and preparing for when we can perform live shows again."

The boys miss one another, but are excited to get back in the game.

"I miss the band!" said Senecal-Tremblay. "I’ve hardly seen any of them since this all began. Things could be worse, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bummer. Hopefully we all wind up with some new songs to record once studios reopen!"

Upcoming gigs:

(Postponed due to COVID-19.)


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