According to White Rock-raised singer Allie Sheldan (still well known to locals who remember Rio Bent, the band that she and her brother Kurtis started with some like-minded talents in high school) the aim of her new three-piece band Little Destroyer is to create music that is “super-alternative, but still fairly accessible.”
Local audiences will be able to judge the results first-hand when the band headlines the free TD Concerts at the Pier series at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug 10 at the customary stage (adjacent to White Rock Museum and Archives on Marine Drive).
For the last two years, Sheldan has teamed with brothers Chris and Michael Weiss (Chris plays synth, various electronic instruments and guitar, Michael plays drums, electric drums and percussion) to build a powerful, synth-heavy alt pop band fueled by a refreshingly raw and gritty underground punk vibe.
Splitting their time between Vancouver and L.A., the trio have been working to perfect their new sound with producer Jarrett Holmes (Walk The Moon, Neon Trees) and Dave ‘Rave’ Ogilvie (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, David Bowie), who mixed their latest tracks.
Sparked by the creative instrumental expertise of the brothers and the lyrical and melodic writing of Sheldan – and her undeniably charismatic presence as front person – the highly collaborative trio are winning positive critical reaction, and have played well-received shows in Vancouver, in Alberta and during Canadian Music Week in Toronto that bode well for an increased touring schedule in the fall.
“We spent a year writing and developing the band and we’ve just been playing shows over the past year,” Sheldan said.
“I met Chris and Michael about seven or eight years ago. We were playing in multiple bands – I was in an evolved version of Rio Bent and also a two-piece – and then we started playing together in a band for several years.
“It was almost like desert rock, dark and moody, alternative but almost experimental, ambient. It was art music; very self-indulgent.
“We wanted to expand that sound and go in a different direction. We wanted to push ourselves as artists and challenge ourselves to use different instruments, but we also wanted to retain that element of energy and rawness that comes from a background of playing in punk rock bands.”
It’s clear that the group doesn’t shy away from edgy social/political commentary. Their single Bad Cell, for example – and it’s aggressively in-your-face video – pulls no punches in its scathing, take-no-prisoners indictment of a dysfunctional society.
Finding that edge was important in carving a distinctive identity for Little Destroyer in the current music scene, Sheldan said.
“What I see largely in the family we would be grouped in – alternative electronic music – is a lot of lyrical content that is a little bit dumbed-down and homogenized; it doesn’t feel like a real person speaking. It’s music I might appreciate from a production or sound value, I’m not connecting as an audience member.
“I think if it can be specific to a person and an experience then that will connect me to an audience on a human level. I have to be true to the person I am and the people in the band have to be true to what they are, and we can connect on a universal level by being vulnerable.”
Everything indicates that the market is more than ready for it, Sheldan added.
“We have to not underestimate our audience,” she said.
“They’re experiencing life, they’re smart people, they can process information, they’re concerned with what’s going on around them – why can’t we have that weight in terms of content?”
Now that they have established a sound and grown comfortable with collaboration, Little Destroyer is concentrating more on performance, Sheldan added.
“This year has been a huge transition for us into how to play that live,” she said. “It’s such a shift for us from what we were used to doing.
“We’re not shock-rockers, but our show is really intense and high energy – full throttle.”
Is her hometown ready for it?
“I guess we’ll find that out,” she chuckled. “But many times I’ve gone into shows wondering if the audience is ready, only to be pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of people who come up to us and talk to us after shows; they seem to get it and connect with it.
“We’re up there trying to be as honest and vulnerable and as giving of ourselves as we can.”
There will be two opening acts for Thursday’s show: Peninsula favourite Ava Carich will highlight her bluesy style at 7 p.m., followed by a set at 7:45 p.m. from The Velveteins, Spencer Morphy and Addison Hiller’s up and coming Edmonton-based indie group updating the “surfer band” concept for a new generation.
TD Concerts at the Pier series, now in its third year, is presented by the White Rock BIA – in partnership with TD Canada Trust, the City of White Rock and Remax.
For more information on Little Destroyer visit littledestroyer.com or https://www.facebook.com/littledestroyermusic/