Step up to the microphone: The members of They Say hang out with one very content feline. – Supplied
While They Say hails from Winnipeg, the band actually started to form across the border at Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee.
Vocalist Jonathan Broeska and guitarist Jay Smith had met a few times through a roommate, but they traveled separately and didn’t consider forming a band until after the festival was over.
“We had just seen John Fogerty and were walking back to our campsite,” says Broeska. “It took 45 minutes, it was a horrible walk and we just started talking.”
Back in Winnipeg, the two kept in touch and started writing music while looking to recruit other members, such as Jesse Ives on guitar, Kevin Kornelsen on drums and Kurtis Wittmier on bass.
Broeska sang in The Nods for seven years, Kornelsen was in JAW, Wittmier was in Hot Live Guys and Smith was in a death metal band for a while, but everyone viewed They Say as a fresh start.
Citing alternative rock titans such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Queens of the Stone Age as influences, the band also admits there is more that went into the songs that has been penned so far.
“We’ve got shredding guitar solos - Ozzy Osborne style - and at the same time we take a lot of elements from the pop music you’d hear on Hot 103,” Smith says.
The band played its first show at the Cavern in February, which set the ball rolling for the debut EP recorded with Tony Katsabanis at Empire Recording.
The result is a batch of songs the band is proud of, but the lineup has shifted since recording.
Josh Ayers, who used to play in local bands such as Red Riot, is officially They Say’s drummer.
The title Disguises comes from a lyric found on the EP’s third track, Jettison.
“I think that’s the lyrical theme for a lot of the songs,” Broeska says. “Calling out people trying to be something that they’re not.”
Still continues to be Smith’s personal favourite track. It clocks in at almost nine minutes and showcases some of the previously mentioned pop.
“I’m a laid back kind of guy, I love long jams,” he says. “It’s kind of dreamy and I just get lost in it, which is what I really like about music. It’s like a sober drug trip.”
Even though the music sends you on a big trip, the local music veterans are realistic about the band and its aspirations.
“It’ll be a slow ride for the next couple of years,” Broeska says. “I’m going to school, so we just hope to write songs and get better. You’re nothing without the material you write. It’s not about the name, it’s not about the clothes and it’s not about the haircuts.”