Recently at Whitewater Wednesday Jam Night at Foxy’s Cabaret, there was an extra excitement in the air.
People crowded inside in eager anticipation, all of them asking, “When is Uncle Touchy getting here?”
That particular Wednesday was the first ever public performance by Uncle Touchy, Whitehorse’s latest rock sensation.
Fronted by lead electric guitarist and vocalist Miriam Cook, with bassist Cindy Klippenstein and drummer Gen Grant, the band did not disappoint. Three-song set had the dance floor packed.
Uncle Touchy got started when Grant introduced herself to Klippenstein, who had recently moved to Whitehorse from Winnipeg.
“I don’t remember the day I called Cindy,” Grant explains, “but I was feeling completely depressed.”
“We didn’t know each other,” Klippenstein adds. “She just showed up out of the blue because she needed a girlfriend, and I had just moved here. We sat at the table and got drunk and created a band.”
There was a small problem though.
“We’d never played our instruments before that moment,” says Klippenstein. “So when we got together, we were talking about who was going to play what and we both said, ‘Drums!'”
Laughing, Grant asks Klippenstein, “How did we decide in the end?”
“I think I gave it to you because you have dreads. Essentially I thought you would look cooler. That’s all we had to go on, because we were equally unskilled. Drummers with dreads are always really cool.”
“We realized we’re also a really great hair band. All of us have great hair,” Grant says, referring to Klippenstein’s fiery red dye-job and Cook’s unbrushed mane.
When word got out that Grant and Klippenstein had formed a band, Cook, a veteran of indie-folk Fire Escape and The Wooly Toques, got excited.
“I said any band that Gen’s in, I’m going to be in.”
Following a punk tradition, the trio learned to be musicians as they rehearsed as a band, quickly taking to their unfamiliar instruments.
Grant explains, “I didn’t even have a beat,” Grant explains. “I really had to learn, but now that I have the main like rock beat, the standard beat, I don’t think I’m going to deviate too much for a long time.”
Cook took to electric guitar, playing until it’s splattered with blood, and Klippenstein, laughing, announces she’s going to marry her bass.
Bringing her experience to the band, Cook is leading the others through the songwriting process.
“When you’re playing a lot, it starts to come easy-peasy. I started writing one last night called I Want to Come Too. I learned a lot from Fire Escape, seeing in our jams how music would come together.”
Excited at the prospect of becoming rock stars, the members of Uncle Touchy are already dreaming big. Their next gigs are booked, including one in Winnipeg in April.
“We’re very much in demand there,” Klippenstein says. “We’re huge, huge in Winnipeg.”
After that, they’re planning to take on the world.
“We sit around at night and drink too much and talk, and things get out of hand,” Grant says.
Klippenstein agrees. “We were super-stressed one night thinking about who we were going to get for a manny for Miriam’s son Xavier when we’re on the road in Europe. How we’re going to be able to afford a manny and a merch guy.”
Grant laughs, “We need a merch guy for all the merch we have.”
Klippenstein reminds the band that Uncle Touchy merchandise was in demand at their debut at Foxy’s.
“People asked me for t-shirts all night that night. People want to wear Uncle Touchy on their chests so badly.”
As a tight trio of hard-rocking musicians, this band certainly will take Whitehorse by storm. And with their big dreams matched only by their drive to make it, their band will be an Uncle Touchy everyone can all be proud of.