By Joshua Erickson
VANCOUVER — Unbeknownst to many, the Fraser Valley has become a creative hub, producing a large number of fantastic bands over the past two decades. This passion and creativity in the scene has laid the groundwork for a band like Blessed to exist. Based out of Abbotsford, Blessed are a four-piece post-punk band that have big things in mind for their future and the talent and songwriting to back it up. Consisting of Drew Riekman, Reuben Houweling, Mitchell Trainor and Jake Holmes, the band’s collective resume of projects include, but is not limited to, GSTS!, Open Letters, Oh No! Yoko, Relentless Ben, and Little Wild. For principle songwriter and guitarist/ vocalist Drew Riekman though, Blessed is a fresh start and a departure from his days as the frontman of a wild hardcore band.
“This band has been a culmination of a long time of wanting to walk away from music based around ‘how fast can I play, how energetic can we be, how crazy can we be live.’ Blessed [comes from] an angle where we stopped writing towards ‘how good is this going to be live,’ and more towards ‘how great of a record can we make?’ and worry about how it will translate live later, as opposed to ‘how crazy can we make this live,’ expresses Riekman. “I wrote so many songs early in my life with GSTS! and other hardcore bands that all we cared about was ‘is this going to be crazy? When we play this live, is it gonna be loud? Is it gonna be fast?’”
Blessed are getting ready to release their debut self-titled EP on May 20th and it has been a long time in the making. With the band’s first single, “Waving Hand,” premiering on Noisey on April 8th and second single “Feel” premiering on Stereogum on April 25th, the momentum behind the band is growing. Recorded at the Barn with Curtis Buckoll from Rain City Studios, the EP is as tense and loud, as it is sparse and beautiful. All this is the result of a song they recorded a week after forming the band. A decision that has haunted the band to this day.
“[Swim] is kind of one of those songs that has really cursed us. In a way that it doesn’t represent who we are as a band at all anymore… The first day we ever jammed together, we wrote [“Swim”] and a week later we recorded it,” elaborates Riekman. “And, because it has taken us a year and a half to write and record this EP, the only song we were showing people was “Swim” and then we have people coming out to our shows being like “I listened to your song and it doesn’t sound anything like you live,” and we have to say ‘Oh, sorry,’” say Riekman with a laugh.
Blessed’s plans don’t end with their EP though. That is just the beginning. The band have ambitious touring plans, a goal to play 100 shows by the end of year, 60 of them being in the United States. While the band’s U.S tour itinerary is still in the works, in May they will be heading off on a 27-date tour that will see them cross Canada covering everywhere from Victoria, B.C. to St. Johns, Newfoundland.
Touring can take a lot out the band, and according the Riekman, the band don’t share much in common when it comes to taste in music and snacks, and the band’s favourite tour game is, apparently, “sleep.” This is when Riekman has a realization.
“The more we talk right now, the more I am realizing how boring we are as a band. Maybe if it is a really short drive and I don’t feel like driving, Jake and I will get drunk in the back [editors note: Houweling and Trainor are straight edge] and listen to something like Weird Al really loud. I think that counts as a tour game.”
While the name may seem to allude to being religious in a sort of sense, that is not the case. In fact, the band simply chose the name because they all liked the sound of it and it wasn’t already taken. I guess you could say the band are #blessed.
“Coming up with a band name is such a hard thing for a band to do, and when we found that [Blessed] wasn’t taken by anyone… we set out with it” says Riekman. On the plus side, the band hopes this may make crossing the boarder into the States easier for them, a spot where many Vancouver bands before have been held up or denied.
“We can just tell them we are a Christian band. It might help. It’s worth a shot.”
Blessed perform at 333 on April 29.333, BC, Blessed, British Columbia