It isn’t easy to pull off the two-man band. How can two people possibly fill the stage with all the sound, life and rhythm of the conventional larger group?
Yet two relatively new Whitehorse residents have somehow managed exactly that. Originally hailing from Calgary, Marcus Steiner and Rich Jaeger moved north last year, bringing with them their two-year musical project, The PPL.
With a full-length album of originals under their belts, Steiner and Jaeger started playing shows locally last December, and were soon taking their danceable brand of acoustic rock to two stages a week, playing for a time as the house band at the Rock Pub on Saturdays and Foxy’s on Thursdays.
While both musicians have had plenty of experience playing with other bands in Calgary, they decided to move to Whitehorse when Steiner got a job in construction, and to focus on their acoustic project.
“We played on and off in some Calgary metal bands, but after I took a job up here… we had a bunch of acoustic songs to record, and then the project just took on a life of its own,” says Steiner.
“It’s been the most positive out of any projects we’ve done. We want to keep gigging no matter what.”
So far, both musicians have been extremely gratified by the reception they’ve received, and look forward to playing more Whitehorse gigs. In March, they took a break to follow their work up to Dawson City.
The PPL’s next public appearance takes place next week at the 7th annual Sunstroke Music Festival. The fundraising event for the Humane Society Dawson runs June 22-23 in Shipyards Park.
On top of that, Jaeger adds that the duo is working on a second album, not to mention filming a music video. They have already toured through Manitoba and Vancouver Island with their self-titled debut album, available locally throughUnitech and Triple J’s, and downloadable on iTunes.
Entirely self-produced and playing gigs galore… how do they do it? Both guys say it’s all in the attitude. “[Playing music] is an escape from reality for a bit,” says Jaeger. “It’s definitely a journey.”
“It’s the one thing that nobody else can control,” adds Steiner. “If you have something like that, it’s sacred.”
But it’s not all about spirituality. Channelling some good hard rock vibes definitely comes into play, and these vibes are easily apparent in both The PPL’s recorded music and their live shows.
Heavy and groovy, Steiner’s electric-acoustic guitar riffs are complex and energetic, filling out the sound as Jaeger backs him up with equally infectious and dynamic drum rhythms.
Jaeger also takes care of the harmonic backing vocals as Steiner’s appealing, mid-range voice cajoles the audience with catchy, singable choruses.
They both cite influences ranging from Neil Young to Led Zeppelin to Lamb of God, and it certainly shows in their original music, which features everything from a contagious hard-rock groove and bluesy slide-guitar to folk with a touch of southern twang.
Combine that with tight, energetic performance, and you have a combination that will have the whole room up and dancing, or singing along, at the very least.
Steiner and Jaeger hope to have their new album released by the end of the year. With most of the material already written, they will cheerfully take on the task of self-producing and promoting their work.
While it is clear that these do-it-yourself enthusiasts play for themselves and not for prestige or praise, they still have just the right amount of ambition and are willing to get their work out there and share it with the world.
For their Sunstroke performance on Friday, June 22, Steiner and Jaeger will be joined by bass player Kiel Edge, a former bandmate of Steiner’s.
For more information, music clips, or merchandise, visit The PPL’s website at www.thepplmusic.com.