The young band has infected The Doors with their energetic blend of punk, grunge and rock. On their 17th gig at the pub, Rat Parade are quickly becoming The Doors’ house band.
The Doors Pub sits on Hess Street, overlooking Hess village, in the basement of a three-story historical building. Known as a metal and punk pub, patrons should come prepared with earplugs – and if you forget, you can buy a pair at the bar.
Caleb Collins has worked as a bartender at The Doors for more than seven years.
“It’s family owned, so it’s a very small staff,” Collins said. “Everyone knows each other very well, it’s a comfortable work environment.”
Collins said the venue stands out from others in the downtown Hamilton area. “I think we’re unique due to the fact that it’s been around for so long, it was actually built in the 1850s by the second mayor of Hamilton,” Collins said. “The building gives it a lot of character. Also, we let our artists sort of run their own shows. It’s created this really vibrant community that has a lot of different voices.”
Newcomer Nicky Heinrichs was impressed by the venue.
“I promote shows and I’m also in one of the opening bands, Among Monsters,” said Heinrichs. “I throw shows all over Ontario as well as Quebec, but this is actually our first show at The Doors and it’s been absolutely amazing. We’re loving it. The people are great, and the building itself is awesome. It’s got great character.”
Although well-known in the area, The Doors aren’t big promoters.
“All of the events are artist organized, they’re not organized through us,” said Collins. “There’s probably a list of like 40 or 50 promoters in the city or in the surrounding area that regularly do shows. The room is available, we kind of just book through word of mouth, we don’t do much advertising, they just sort of approach us.”
This is a criticism I have about the venue. Promotion is important, and if you decide to leave that part up to the artists, at least make sure that they are spreading the important details. Rat Parade had posted about their gig a month early, but I didn’t know what time to show up until that day. Only when I got to the pub did I find out that Rat Parade were playing last in the lineup.
Hamilton born and raised, the Theriault brothers and Luke Grohl are close friends, and have labelled themselves as The Doors’ house band. Mitch Theriault is the vocalist and bassist, his younger brother Ryan is the guitarist and Grohl plays the drums.
“We’ve all known each other for a long time. Ryan is my brother, so we’ve obviously known each other for a little while,” Mitch said. “Then Luke and I met in grade nine, so we have this great chemistry as a band.”
Rat Parade is Grohl’s first band. “We just passed our one year mark in August, so we’re about a year and a-half old! Mitch and I are both new to the music scene,” Grohl said.
The Theriault brothers grew up listening to a lot of ‘90s punk and grunge, including Nirvana, Green Day and Weezer.
“We’ve only released two EPs and a single,” Ryan said. “We haven’t done a full-length album yet, because we think doing frequent, smaller releases that make an impact is more beneficial for a band just starting out. Rather than spending time and money on a large project that only lasts for a little while.”
So far, Rat Parade have released a self-titled EP, a second EP called Our Plague and two singles called “Beer” and “333am”.
“We’re about to go on a mini-tour with Among Monsters,” Grohl said. “We’re stopping in Barrie, Montreal, Oshawa, Sudbury and Toronto. We’ll be back for our 18th gig at The Doors on March 1.”
For booze prices, The Doors are cheaper than the usual $6-$7 pint.
“We have a rotating draft special every night, which usually runs for $5.75 for a half-litre, and we have canned specials now and then as well.”
Unfortunately, the cover is about average. Spending $10 to see a band won’t break the bank, but something a little lighter would encourage the student community to come back more often.
The Doors Pub is also a taco joint.
“The prices are pretty much set. We have flour tortillas that are pretty large,” said Collins. “They’re $6.25 to $6.75, we also have vegetarian and vegan options.”
If I had any complaints about the pub, it would be the environment. Because the bar is in the basement, ordering beer or tacos can be intimidating in the crowded room. That could be due to the popularity of that night’s gig, but even ordering a pint took a bit of courage to push through the guests.
Rating: I’d give Rat Parade at The Doors Pub three out of five. The communication between the venue and the community is pretty low quality, but their friendly service and talented artists still kept the night fun.