Alex Danyliuk, drummer for Winnipeg band The Revival, passed away unexpectedly on April 12 at the age of 22.
A week earlier, the young musician had spent five days in a studio on Ross Street with Montreal producer Mike Nash, recording The Revival’s debut LP, the follow up to last year’s Brady Bird EP.
Born February 28, 1991, Alex started playing music - first the trombone, then the drums - while attending Henry G. Izatt Middle School.
Described by his father Boris as “a gem” and “the smartest, kindest and most talented” of the Danyliuk clan, Alex was a natural when it came to music.
“I remember we went to a parent-teacher at HGI and talked to Mr. Tsuchi, the band teacher,” Danyliuk says.
“Alex wanted a set of drums and we asked Mr. Tsuchi ‘Is the kid any good?’ He said ‘Alex is the only one that can read the music and play it the first time out.’ He worked hard and was really talented.”
From Grade 8 on, Alex was completely committed to the drums. In addition to the school band and obligatory jams with friends in his parent’s basement, Alex played with his uncle’s group at First Mennonite Church and took weekly private lessons with professional percussionist Kevin Radomsky, a mentorship that continued until Alex’s passing.
After high school, Alex was accepted into the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Music, completing one year of the Jazz Studies program before deciding to focus full-time on The Revival.
Jay Jensen, The Revival’s 22-year-old bassist and Alex’s best friend, says Alex was a musical sponge.
“He studied everything he could. Everything,” Jensen says, Alex’s friend since the age of four.
“I even caught him one day watching a Justin Bieber concert. Alex didn’t like Bieber, he just wanted to see what he does. I took a picture and he turned off the concert after that.”
No Bieliebers, Danyliuk and Jensen grew up on punk rock. Jensen says Blink 182 and its drummer Travis Barker was the pair’s biggest early influence. Together, the two friends formed 4th Floor, a punk project that would eventually evolve into The Revival.
Formed in August 2008, The Revival, which also includes vocalist/guitarist Kevin Hogg and guitarist Eric Clefstad, mixed those early punk influences with electronic music and classic rock riffs, plus smatterings of funk, Latin and reggae music.
Whatever sounds were omitting from the Danyliuk basement, Boris says he and his wife Kirsten always welcomed and supported their son’s musical endeavours. Well, most of the time.
“In ‘09 my wife and I went to Vegas to see U2 and as we were waiting to leave the stadium I got a text from the neighbours saying ‘There’s a shaker going on over at your house,’” Danyliuk says. “It turns out the boys had sent my youngest son out to a friend’s place and threw a big party at my house, complete with an opening band.
“When we came back from Vegas we weren’t too impressed because there was some damage. Also, I had booby trapped the bedrooms and said ‘No one goes into the bedrooms” and they went into the bedrooms, so we booted the band out for a month. They came groveling back, paid some damages and agreed to give us a token amount of rent to play, like $85 a month.”
“That pretty much just paid for the food they fed us,” Jensen adds.
“I don’t know if it even paid for the food because you guys had a habit of showing up on Sundays to jam, just when we were having our big family dinner,” Danyliuk says.
The basement jams and home cooking eventually paid off. In the spring of 2012, the single from The Brady Bird EP, Shake This was released, with its corresponding music video receiving almost 20,000 views on YouTube.
The band eventually caught the attention of Tim Jones of artist management/record label Pipe & Hat, who signed the band to its roster. In March, The Revival played the Pipe & Hat showcase at Bovine Sex Club in Toronto as part of Canadian Music Week.
Jensen says The Revival will continue, fittingly completing its debut full-length with Radomsky. The album will be released at the end of July.
While forging on without Alex will surely be difficult, The Revival recently proved it can hold its own during hard times. At Alex’s funeral service, Jensen, Hogg and Clefstad played three teary-eyed songs in tribute to their late friend, including covers of Dave Matthews’ Gravedigger, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here and an impromptu performance of Stuck in My Head, an original tune.
“We were sitting up there listening to the songs the Christian house band was playing and we thought ‘OK we need to play our own thing’,” Jensen says. “There’s this point in Stuck in My Head where it’s just vocals and clapping and everyone in the church was clapping along. It was just this uplifting moment. Everyone shared the rhythm.”
Alex had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a disorder of the conduction system of the heart. A usually asymptomatic condition, Alex was cleared by his doctor for physical activity. On April 12, he collapsed while jogging through Vimy Ridge Memorial Park.
“Alex was a warrior of peace and his chosen weapons were kindness and music,” Danyliuk says, noting the park’s military significance.
The Danyliuk family has set up an Alex Danyliuk memorial fund at the Royal Bank of Canada’s 1610 Kenaston Boulevard location. Also, a memorial concert is in the works.
Keep up to date with The Revival at www.facebook.com/therevivalstyle. While there, check out the band’s emotional performance at Alex’s funeral service.
Published in Volume 67, Number 26 of The Uniter (May 29, 2013)