Hope Atlantic: Mercy Street choirboys

Selkirk represent! TJ Stevenson (from left), Jeremy Penner, Jordy Heppner and Matty Hallick are Hope Atlantic. Hope Atlantic

The members of Hope Atlantic are representing their hometown of Selkirk, Man.

“We feel that we’re the voice of the kids and the people who are like us from the
place we’re from,” 23-year-old bassist TJ Stevenson says.

Stevenson, singer-guitarist Jordy Heppner, 22, and drummer Matty Hallick, 21, grew up together in the city 20 km. northeast of Winnipeg. They went to school on Mercy Street, close to where Stevenson lived and where they wrote their first songs.

In September, the band – which also includes 27-year-old keyboard player Jeremy Penner – will release its first EP, Mercy Street Choir.

“Nothing really comes out of Selkirk, so it’s fitting,” Heppner says. “Choirs give voice to things, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The five-track EP is a varied collection. Oklahoma is an acoustic guitar-based track about a long distance relationship; Purple City and Cheap Summer are catchy, upbeat pop songs; and Lost at Sea and Bad Crash are U2- and Coldplay-inspired rockers.

“We want to be a big band, we want to play to as many people as possible – same as every other band – but we might as well hone our craft and sit on it for a while and get our songs legitimate before we … jump into anything,” Heppner says of the band’s decision to debut with an EP and not a full-length.

“There’s no rush.”

In August, the band will release a cassette featuring two older songs that won’t be on Mercy Street Choir.

Hope Atlantic’s attention to melody is striking, and considering the ages of its members, the band is already quite accomplished – particularly Heppner, who has no prior experience fronting a band.

They toured Ontario and Quebec earlier this year and have been approached by a few labels and management firms who are interested in working with them.

As they weigh their options, the one thing the band does know is that it wants to stand for something good.

“We want to push rock ‘n’ roll, we want to push real music,” Stevenson says. “I don’t think the big pop artists in our society should be pushing things like bling and cars and stuff like that. I really think that we should be talking about the problems (that are out there), or at least letting people know about them.”

-Hope Atlantic will put their cassette out in August
-They will release Mercy Street Choir on Saturday, Sept. 18 at the West End Cultural Centre
Visit http://www.myspace.com/hopeatlantic

Published in Volume 64, Number 27 of The Uniter (June 30, 2010)

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