Rockers just wanna have fun

Local band aims to take something old and make it new

Local rockers Haunter, caught live in beautiful black and white. Craig Dueck

For Haunter, fun is the most important thing.

“I don’t think we’ve ever taken ourselves too seriously,” Jory Hasselmann, guitarist for the quartet, said over beer at Carlos and Murphy’s.

Consider vocalist-guitarist Matt Williams, who previously had a “solo thing” that brought a ludicrous new name to every show – Jacob Grace and the God-Shaped Hole, or Johnny Phantom and the Deviant Souls.

Or check out the humour on the band’s website,

“Sarcasm is our big thing,” Williams explained.

But after a moment’s thought, he noted: “We won’t want to give the impression we’re sarcastic all the time.”

Mostly just at their shows, offered bassist Marie-France Hollier, otherwise known as Mef. Sarcasm really makes it into the band’s live performances, she said, which are characterized by “odd humour.”

Odd humour certainly found its way into the conversation at Carlos and Murphy’s, which drifted easily to subjects like whether it was a cow skull or bull skull hanging above the table.

We just want to write the hit song of summer ‘09.

Jory Hasselmann, guitarist, Haunter

Williams said the band tries to balance creative expression and simply having a good time.

“We’re all friends,” said Mef.

It was at a jam session with their former drummer that most of the band first played together, and everything immediately clicked. New drummer Ryan Coates joined the festivities in October.

Friendship has been integral to the evolution of the band’s sound. According to Mef, there’s been a lot more experimentation lately. Coates added that familiarity and connection with other band members naturally leads in that direction, through the process of learning how to play together.

The circumstances of recording their upcoming 7” also helped - it was cut in a friend’s basement studio.

“It’s got more energy – you can get more dynamic between people in that kind of confined space,” Coates said. “I’ve noticed an evolution in sound – it’s progressed.” That is, there’s now more layers, more intricacies. For that matter, the existing EP – recorded with the band’s former line-up – is no longer representative of its evolved sound.

“We like those songs, we still play them, they’re just…more up-tempo now,” Hasselmann explained.

That’s why the group is excited about both their upcoming 7” release and Jan. 16 gig at The Royal Albert, where they’ll be unveiling their “tighter” sound and a completely remodeled set list, complete with “b-sides.”

Live shows are the band’s laboratory for new songs.

While Haunter describes their sound to be “in the spirit” of ‘90s indie rock, there is a certain reluctance to clearly state a definitive list of influences from A to Z. The likes of Pavement and the Pixies came up, though, and the band said that audiences “seem to get” what they’re driving at.

That being said, according to Hasselmann, “I don’t think we’ve ever pushed anything.” The evolution of the band has happened naturally, and the band has tried to let it happen so.

“We’ve shifted from rock to….medium rock,” Hasselmann said.

“No, no – ANTHEM rock,” Mef corrected, grinning.

“Yeah,” laughed Hasselmann. “We just want to write the hit song of summer ’09.”

But seriously, Williams added, “We want to take something and make it new.”

And have a good time doing it.

See Haunter Friday, Jan. 16 at The Royal Albert Arms. Visit

Published in Volume 63, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 15, 2009)

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