By Foster Modesette
CALGARY — If you closed your eyes and heard The Static Shift play, you probably wouldn’t imagine you were in the year 2016. Guitar riffs, harmonica solos, pounding bass lines, and drum fills that rival some of the great Southern blues acts of the 1950s. The three-piece is a not only a rebirth, but a fresh take on rock and roll’s bluesy roots.
Citing influences such as Lead Belly, Lightning Hopkins, and Blind Lemon Jefferson, these young artists know more about rock history that your parents probably do.
“I read the Keith Richards book, Life,” recalls band bassist Keone Friesen. “[Richards] talked a lot about Muddy Waters, Elmore James and those guys. I think that was really the time I started looking into it, writing all the names down and listening to them.”
The Static Shift consists of Friesen on the bass, Isaiah Stonehouse on drums, and Mitchell Brady, lyricist and guitar. Friesen and Brady first met each other at “rock band camp” when the two were 13 and 12 years old. “You had a week to write two original songs, two covers and then at the end there was a show,” Friesen recounts.
“Five months later, [Keone] messaged me and said, ‘hey man, do you want to start a band?’” adds Brady.
The duo quickly began recording tracks under the name Stone of Nowhere, which was their beginning as rock and roll artists.
“It was so random,” says Stonehouse of his eventual entry into the band. “I moved here from B.C. and me and my dad, the very first week we were here, went to Long and McQuade, which was closed. So we decided to check out this random place, Axe Music, and on the side of the door was ‘Teen band, 13-year-olds, looking for drummer.’” So came the metamorphosis into their current lineup.
Three years later, the band has released a full album (Windsor Street, 2014), an EP (At Odds, 2015), won a YYC Music Award for Rock Recording of the Year for their track, “Oh Captain! My Captain!” and is now releasing their second full-length album, Common Bliss.
The new album was recorded at OCL Studios and mixed by veteran Russell Broom (Jann Arden, The Dudes, The Sam Roberts Band).
“We didn’t do a single edit on the album,” said Friesen. “They were all [first] takes, 12 songs in two days.” This live-off-the-floor style captures the band’s easy fluidity.
“It was obvious they were talented from the get-go,” says Darren Ollinger, Entertainment Manager at The Ship & Anchor has been booking shows for the pub for five years now, and booked The Static Shift for their first-ever show three years ago.
“I’ve been with those kids for the birth and growth of the band, (so) I got dibs on their 18th birthday party show,” Ollinger adds.
“Every time they play there is more confidence in their stage presence and their banter. Their songs get crisper.”
The “birthday” show Ollinger is speaking of will be the band’s first 18+ show on December 28th. When bassist Friesen turns 18 on Christmas day, The Static Shift can finally capitalize on a world of adult ventures that is opening up.
A band talented far beyond their years already, The Static Shift are an impressive group of young rockers with plenty to show already. With new doors opening up, they are set to continue this flourishing evolution.
Catch The Static Shift’s 18th birthday party show at The Ship & Anchor on December 28th, and at their Common Bliss release party on January 13th at the Ironwood.AB, Alberta, Ironwood, Ironwood Stage & Grill, Ship & Anchor, Static Shift, The Static Shift