The North Bay alt-folk trio was named Engineer of the Year at the Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards recently, and are well on their way to making a go of careers in the industry.
“We want to put out some more music, and bring it live to some places we haven't been yet,” Andrew Sowka, who plays bass, does backup vocals and various percussion, said. “That means more shows, more festivals, more house concerts and seeing every bit of Canada we can.
“Ideally, this will turn into something we could do full time to make a living - it will still take a lot of work, but I think we're all on the same page.”
The trio, comprised of Sowka, along with lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Cucullo and drummer and backup vocalist Vince Aquilina have been playing together for seven years, although only began writing and performing originals three years ago.
“We each contribute to the songs and the performances — no one part is bigger than the rest — so if we’re successful, it’s because we’ve worked hard to refine the music down to something we’re all satisfied with,” they said.
Working in northern Ontario has presented its own array of challenges and opportunities for the trio — at this point, however, the pros outweigh the cons.
“The two major Ontario centres (GTA and Ottawa) are under four hours away from us, and we're still close to home and other northern cities like Sudbury,” they said. “Also, it’s nice working in a scene where most of the musicians, venues and promoters know and look after each other.
“It's advantageous to grow in a market where you stand out a little from the 'competition' as compared to Toronto, for instance. A place where alternative folk, and other independent and experimental bands are more common.
Furthermore, on any night in Toronto, you're playing a show at the same time as someone a lot bigger than you — or at least a name people would rather spend money to see as opposed to taking a chance on a performance they don't know and trust. And it's not at all to say Toronto is a bad place to be — we love playing down there; We just prefer living up here.”
Earning recognition at the Music and Film in Motion awards was “icing on the cake” for their efforts on their winning album, Carry On, Man.
Sowka, Cucullo and Aquilina agree that it added a certain amount of “legitimacy” to what they do.
“We worked very hard on the album for a solid five or six months, all on different schedules, and with different ideas in mind,” the trio stated.
“When it all came together finally, we were excited about the finished product and how it looked and sounded. Since its release, we've been able to tour, focus on new material, and expand our knowledge and creativity. Quite the ride. We're so happy with the opportunities that have come with it.”
On May 9, Faraway Neighbours is taking the short drive from North Bay to Sudbury to play the Towne House alongside fellow NOMFA winner Kalle Mattson. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the show gets underway at 10. Tickets can be picked up at the door for $5.
For more information, visit farawayneighbours.com. Copies of their award-winning album Carry On, Man can be picked up for $5 as a digital download, or $10 to have a physical copy mailed.
Posted by Arron Pickard