How does one describe the recently-formed Whitehorse band, Off the Menu?
You might call them artists, creators or innovators… You might describe them as bohemian-rocking lovers of life, or wearers of ponchos, vests, aviators and unusual hats. All at once.
But drummer and filmmaker Dustin Wentzell (known as Phinigan) probably has the most concise answer.
“We’re not four guys with instruments,” he says. “We’re a band with a plan. We try to entertain and encourage laughter… it’s a full show. We’ve got a multimedia, multifaceted performance.”
Off the Menu formed through a series of summer jams at Ear Lake and features the talents of Dr. Weatherman (Clancy McInnis), Major Mouth (Lane Currie), Jojo Lloyd (Jordan Schmidt) and of course, Phinigan.
Most of them contribute to writing the band’s songs, using a group dynamic to keep their sound fresh and ever-changing, and end up incorporating elements of just about every kind of music in their work.
Phinigan describes the result as “a little nostalgic”, while citing everyone from Adam Sandler to Jim Henson to local Whitehorse musicians as artistic influences.
With a live album and plenty of gigs under their belts already, the members of Off the Menu have high hopes for their upcoming competition in the annual FrostBYTE Battle of the Bands, hosted by Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE).
They plan on bringing a good attitude and lots of fun to the stage, not to mention costumes.
“We want to make security dance!” says guitarist Jojo Lloyd.
“We want to be invited back, to play the [Frostbite] main stage,” adds Phinigan, “But really for us it’s not about the money, it’s about getting original music out there.”
Nevertheless, Off the Menu knows exactly what they’d do if awarded the first place prize.
Off the Menu in rehearsal (l.to r.): Phinigan, Jojo Lloyd, Dr. Weatherman and Major Mouth, as band “manager” Lady Cochichka provides the moves
“We’d take the two hours of recording time and record an album straight,” says Dr. Weatherman. “Just do six tracks off the demo.”
Experienced musicians all, the band members are no strangers to the stage, even before their gig-laden first year. Most have played either solo or with other groups already. However, each one gives a different reason for joining this particular group, and for why they like it so much.
“It’s a good excuse to get out,” says Dr. Weatherman, who also plays with the band Common Knowledge. “I get to take clothes off onstage and no-one can say anything (much). And our lawyer needs something to dance to.”
“We get off work at four,” says Jojo Lloyd. “What else are we going to do?”
“We’re all friends first, and we’re not fearful,” Phinigan summarizes, “That’s what’s good about it. I think music is one of the most joyful things you can do.”
In closing, this band is an enthusiastic, open-minded group of people who know who they are, what they want and plan on eventually getting there, while having as much fun as possible along the way.
For live footage and tracks from their album, visit Off the Menu’s Facebook page, where you can view an introductory video.
Copies of the live album can be obtained through the band at any show or open mic.
Off the Menu will compete against Psychic Weatherman, Dead Simple and Zipline in the alternative/rock category at this year’s FrostBYTE Battle of the Bands.
The hard rock/metal category will feature Dead End Drive, Kyruel, Examination and Cervexecution.
The event takes place Friday, February 17 in the Woodshed at Yukon College, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Winners will perform on the Yukon Arts Centre mainstage the following evening as part of the Frostbite Music Festival concert lineup.
More information is available at www.frostbitefest.ca/