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Stellar Radio Choir bring back real rock and roll

By ALEX COOPER
March 16, 2012 · Updated 12:11 PM
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Stellar Radio Choir, from left: singer and guitarist Eric Larocque, bassist Todd Menzies and drummer Ben Caldwell. / Courtesy Stellar Radio Choir

Stellar Radio Choir describes its music as sounding “like your dad’s record collection that has been struck by a high energy pulsar beam.”

That naturally led me to ask the bands bass player Todd Menzies the obvious question: What’s in your dad’s music collection?

“My dad was into a lot of good old rock and roll – The Stones, Chuck Berry, “ he said. “We’re really a blues band, just electrified.”

Stellar Radio Choir are no strangers to Revelstoke. The Golden-based trio has played several shows at the Big Eddy Pub and last winter they played a fundraiser for StokeFM.

“The place was packed - it was shoulder to shoulder people and they rocked out,” said Menzies.

I caught them once and they delivered a high-energy set of straight up rock and roll.

The band formed out of a merger between Menzies, who was performing solo, and Eric Larocque and Ben Caldwell, who play together as the roots duo Broken Down Suitcase. They played shows together and eventually decided to get together on a new project – something electric and more rocking.

Thus was born Stellar Radio Choir. The name came partly from Larocque’s fascination with space and partly from the fact their original singer had a choir background, said Menzies.

“As soon as we said it, it kind of stuck.”

When I asked Menzies his influences, he cited early Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground and late-70s glam rock bands like T-Rex. When I saw them, they closed the show with a cover of sixties psych-rockers The 13th Floor Elevators. The band also cites the Black Keys, Fleetwood Mac and Black Mountain as influences.

I asked Menzies what draws them to that rawer style of music. “It’s the realness of it,” he replied. “I like the old analogue, dirty sound of it.”

Larocque, who sings and plays guitar in the band, is the main songwriter for the group, said Menzies, but they also collaborate on songs together. “We all collaborate musically,” he added.

Stellar Radio Choir has begun to garner some accolades. It was the featured artist of the month on Vancouver radio station CFOX in November and it was recently nominated for a Kootenay Music Award for best rock/punk/metal band.

Last summer the band toured across Canada with their friends Mobina Galore, playing 48 shows in 50 days. They didn’t come back with any wild and crazy stories, said Menzies, but some highlights included a show at Grand Beach near Winnipeg, where they played on the patio of a pizza joint; and a small festival on a farm near Peterborough, Ont., where they had a hand in building the stage the day before the show.

Menzies said the tour helped the band build a following across the country; they noticed their Facebook fans increase as they travelled east.

The band has released one EP and just released a new single that they hope to put out on vinyl this summer when they hit the festival circuit. They also have an album in the works.

Stellar Radio Choir plays at the Big Eddy Pub on Wednesday, Mar. 21. Devon Coyote opens.