Numbers are always an interesting factor in bands, from duos that sound like bands many times their size, to massive orchestras where each instrument can represent a character within a narrative. Nestled somewhere in the middle is Niagara’s My Son The Hurricane, whose brass-hop ensemble has expanded to 14 members strong in recent years. On their third album, Is This What You Want?, the band captures their most expansive ensemble yet, with a new singer and even more for bandleader Danno O’Shea to focus into a tight record.
“I’m a natural organizer, I like putting pegs in their appropriate holes,” says O’Shea “It’s not without challenges but I’m getting the hang of it.”
O’Shea often acts as the band’s manager setting up gigs and recording time, covering legal duties, distributing pay to the band, designing art, and acting as mediator to the group. Luckily since new singer Sylvie Kindree joined, she’s taken some of the booking load of O’Shea.
This organization has gotten O’Shea crowned the Dad of the group, which he laughs at, “Even when you have a band of three people you have to understand personalities and how to work with them.”
O’Shea claims that when it comes to writing, however, the numbers have been nothing but a blessing, “We write everything in sheet music form and since everyone in the band is a trained musician it’s efficient.” O’Shea says with their numbers jamming is just not an option, but he gets help writing because “Alex and Euan give a lot more input now.”
There are some challenges admits O’Shea “All 14 members have ideas and you have the trick job of choosing which work best, we also don’t have the luxury of touring as easily as many smaller bands.” Despite this, O’Shea says achieving goals is rarely a struggle, “It helps when you have a whole group this big, all focused on the same prize.”
Their size has also affected how they perform live, even down to setlists, “For a year we opened with our non-dance songs because people stared slack-jawed at the band’s size and it usually took a few songs for them to get into the music.” After the shock wears off however, their numbers are nothing but a blessing “It becomes a dance party, people go wild, it’s total insanity, people are even riding the crowd.”
Looking to how the band got to where they are today it’s not too far from O’Shea’s original vision “Over lunch one day we had a wish-list of band members, we even considered the name “O’Shea’s 11,” but people just kept coming on.”
MC Jacob Bergsma’s energy was essential to the band though as O’Shea explains “We wanted a vocalist who wouldn’t get lost behind all the bodies.” Bergsma’s frantic performance is both powerful and draining “He gets the crowd and band going and we feed off each other, but he’s crippled by the end of the show, he always needs some recovery time.”
Adding Kindree’s vocals to the mix happened quite naturally too “Sylvie came out to a show once and came on stage, it went so well we invited her to more and now she’s a member.” “Smile,” a single on their latest album, was brought to the band from Sylvie and her husband as well.
The eight month process to get their third album Is This What You Want? was well worth it according to O’Shea “These songs are more indicative of our live show, we want people to attach themselves to the songs.”
Looking to the album’s interesting artwork by Ken Dubois, O’Shea sees himself as the struggling monkey on its cover “Building a spaceship is like starting a huge band, and touring it is such an impossible task of building with what you have.”
The band is pretty limited in their ability to do charity work because of their sheer size, and how difficult it is to even get themselves on the road, but the band finds other ways to give back. “We do clinics to get kids jacked on music, we’ll even invite them to see our sound check and when we do hometown shows we hand-deliver tickets to say thank you.”
O’Shea also played for kids in a gig with children’s singer Will Stroet, “you go from obscenity yelling to songs about eating your vegetables, the kid crowds are still nuts though, my daughter listens to him more than me.”
With their latest album under their belts, a summer tour closing Sept 9 in Ridgeway, ON, and a US tour later this year the band certainly has managed to build their spaceship.