The band Sentimental Gentlemen was on the other side of the country Canada, part way through an epic tour to Newfoundland and back, when the members heard about the fire devastating their home in Fort McMurray. Rather than turn around and go back home, they decided to press on with the tour and use it as a way to support their community by raising money at each show.
Founded in 2013, the band has developed a straight forward rock and roll sound, drawing on influences like Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Stevie Ray Vaughn and ZZ Top. They released their debut album, The Devil’s in the Details, last fall and hit the road at the start of April to promote the release. They were in Newfoundland when news broke that Fort McMurray was being evacuated.
This Saturday, June 11, they’re playing the Last Drop for a show on the final leg of their tour through B.C., before they head back to Alberta to find out what’s left for them at home.
We sent a few questions by e-mail to find out more about the band, their tour and how they were impacted by the fires. Singer Mackenzie Walas responded.
Revelstoke Review (RR): Was it a hard decision to keep touring after hearing about the fires?
Mackenzie Walas (MW): It was definitely hard hearing what our friends and families were going through but we’ve realized that this tour has given us the unique opportunity to give back to the community that has given us so much. Shows have become a way for us to play a roll in getting people to rally behind the cause and help out those in need.
RR: What have the shows been like since?
MW: The turnout at shows has been great! We’ve seen a real outpour of love and support from everyone. A lot of people have reached out to us wondering how they can help the Fort Mac cause which is a pretty awesome feeling.
RR: How have the fires impacted you as a band?
MW: I don’t think there’s a single person in Fort McMurray that wasn’t affected in some shape or form. We lost a handful of guitars and music equipment as far as material things go but we’re definitely relieved knowing everyone got out safely. It was just hard being on the other side of the country and knowing our friends and families were going through that ordeal.
RR: Tell me about your music – how do you like to describe the band?
MW: We often describe the band’s sound as high energy rock n roll. Drawing inspiration from many different genres as well as life experiences. The biggest ego in the room should always be the song and we try to do that justice when we write.
RR: What’s the music scene like in Fort McMurray?
MW: The music scene in Fort McMurray is actually a beautiful thing. In a town where seemingly everyone has come from somewhere else there are a lot of stories to be told. We’ve definitely had the pleasure of sharing the stage with some brilliant musicians during our time there. The community is really supportive of music and art in general.
RR: You’re touring in support of your debut album — what’s the reception been like across the country?
MW: I guess that’s the scary part really, jumping out of the nest. People really seem to be digging our sound, and passion for keeping rock n roll authentic. Touring Canada has been an amazing experience and we’ve been invited back to every city/town we’ve played.
RR: Other than the fires, are there any standout moments from the tour?
MW: I think every town has its own moments. We’ve kissed codfish on George Street in St. John’s, slept in a 100-year-old courthouse in Saskatchewan, met each other’s parents and childhood friends, and met beautiful people all over the country.
RR: You have a few more weeks left on your tour — what’s the plan for the band after you’re done?
MW: I suppose we’ll all take some much deserved time off. Of course we’ll need to figure out the situation in Fort McMurray but ideally it would be nice to record some new material later into the summer. The road has given us plenty of inspiration to write, so I’m sure once the tour is over and we’ve had time to digest it all we’ll all be itching to get back in the studio.
RR: What can Revelstoke expect from a Sentimental Gentlemen show?
MW: Revelstoke can expect a loud and sweaty good time. We love having fun and invite everyone and anyone to come out and let loose.