The journey of the Vancouver-based band who released a killer first album
Over 10 years ago, at a skatepark in Vancouver, Daniel Botch and Garrett Ward decided to form a band. Now, after years of hard work, they look at each other on stage at Montreal’s Piranha Bar on Aug. 28 and think to themselves, “We’ve made it.”
At just 14 years old, Botch and Ward started The Faceplants. Botch used to live in Winnipeg, but moved to Vancouver when he was young. There, he met Ward—they lived close by, went to the same high school, and have been close friends ever since.
Botch, the lead singer, and Ward, the guitarist, reminisce on what inspired the name of their band, but both have very different stories. Ward’s take on the name is that, while skateboarding, he would quite literally faceplant off his board—and it stuck. He thought it was the obvious choice for the band name. Botch’s version of the story is that they were very inspired by ska music. Ska pulls inspiration from reggae and rock. Many ska bands have outrageous names, and “The Faceplants” fit the bill.
Over the years, the band has evolved. Eight years ago, 23-year-old pianist Graham MacKinnon joined The Faceplants. He knew Botch and Ward from high school, and said that being younger than them has made him grow up sooner than he thought he would have otherwise. Almost four years ago—a year before the band went on a hiatus to rework their image and sound—28-year-old drummer Paddy Spencer and 22-year-old bassist Chris Wong joined the band, and The Faceplants as we know them have been together ever since.
The self-managed band says that they were lucky enough to be able to take those three years off to really work on their music the way that they wanted to. They wanted to be proud of what they were putting out, rather than just following music trends like they did before their hiatus. After years of hard work and dedication to their craft, The Faceplants came out with their first LP, which was released on July 27.
Animalistic has nine songs and runs for 38 minutes. The same day as Animalistic’s long-awaited release, the band left for a cross-country tour. They hauled themselves and their equipment in a 12-passenger van, hitting 16 cities in just over a month, Montreal being the third-to-last stop.
Spencer describes The Faceplants’s musical style as a “modern twist on classic rock,” which you get a taste of when they start their set with “Animal.” The song has a tribal drum beat throughout most of it, high energy vocals, an almost in-the-jungle feel, very true to its name. The next song they play is “Unholy,” which is undoubtedly their most well-known song. The first 90 seconds is vocals and piano, then you get hit with drums, bass and guitar, all seamlessly melded together to give you the perfect rock experience.
The band closes off their high-energy, crowd-interactive set with the last song on their album, “Sweet Living Sickness /// The Journey,” which is a collective favourite for the bandmates. The song expresses the journey that The Faceplants have gone on over the past few years. Every song on the LP makes a reappearance on this final track, with part of each melody bleeding into the background.
The Faceplants ended their tour on Sept. 1 and headed home to relish in the accomplishment of their first national ride. The hard work may seem to be over, but they will continue working on music videos for the rest of their album. They’re already planning on creating new music, which is sure to attract more fans. If you grow to love them, you have the possibility of seeing them live one day, as they hope to return to Montreal in the next year.