They got together in February, and now The Midnight Sons are heading out of the territory to spread their style of minimalist, rootsy folk-rock across western Canada.
Consisting of vocalist and guitarist Alex Johnston, drummer Patrick Docherty and bassist Ian MacIntyre, the trio have been performing steadily around the Yukon since forming The Midnight Sons.
Johnston started playing his own songs while going to school in Kelowna, then he dropped out to pursue a career in music. He auditioned for a Pearl Jam tribute band there, but didn’t make the cut.
“I had no idea how to sing and this band was looking for a singer,” he says. “I drove three hours out of town to go to this audition. And it was a cool room and I started singing and they said, ‘You’re trying way too hard to sound like Eddie Vedder.‘“
Returning to the Yukon, he joined Docherty, who has played in Common Knowledge, among other Whitehorse bands.
“I saw him playing drums when he was in two other bands,” Johnston says. “And he put something up on YouTube. I clicked on it, and immediately thought, ‘You guys are good. You’ve got good music.’
“Pat and I tried to do something before. We weren’t even ready to be in a band. We shouldn’t have been allowed to even play music.”
After playing a few sets at the Whitewater Wednesday Jam Night at Epic Pizza over the winter, the duo met MacIntyre in February.
“I heard them play a couple of times,” MacIntyre says. “We got talking after a few beers and I said, ‘You guys sound great, but you could use a bass player.’“
The band has since taken off, with gigs at Epic, Bailey’s Pub, Paddy’s Place and the Jarvis Saloon. Outside Whitehorse, they’ve played Haines Junction, Juneau and Haines. They now host an open mic on Wednesday night in a cramped space at the back of The Dirty Northern.
“Some nights we have people crash and fall over my drum kit, they’re dancing so hard,” says Docherty.
While the Sons have yet to produce their first album, they have recorded some demo tracks with Marcus Steiner and Rich Jaeger of The PPL. While the sound is rough and un-produced, the tracks reveal the spirit of their performances and Johnston’s songwriting.
Johnston claims his songs are influenced by Kings of Leon, but they actually have a strong roots-rock feel, like Creedence Clearwater Revival mixed with The Sheepdogs and The Black Keys.
On songs like “Traction” and “Rather Love,” Docherty is fun to watch, beating out playfully intense jazz rhythms on his drum kit to Johnston’s wild, distorted strumming and his deep, hoarse voice, straining against the high notes and the emotion of his lyrics.
In October, The Midnight Sons are touring Western Canada with The PPL, who just released their second album. MacIntyre will be taking on the bass duty of both bands.
“It should be a really tiring tour,” he says. “But it’s going to be fun. I’m excited for it.”
On Oct. 3 and 9, their tour will intersect with Speed Control‘s, providing a Yukon music showcase for the people of Cranbrook and Golden. Those towns may never be the same.
To hear The Midnight Sons, check out SoundCloud.com/TheMidnightSons.