Breaking into the music industry is always tough, but a band from Delta has a chance.
Tough Lovers, formed two years ago, is one of 20 bands in The Peak Performance Project, a competition in which music acts vie for $100,500 in funding to launch their music careers.
Lead singer Jamie Smail, 24, and guitarist Graham Madden, 25, who both went to Delta Secondary, decided to form a band after playing a gig together in November 2009. They brought Dane Stevens on board, another Ladner boy in the Delta connection.
“Dane was a guitar player and we figured he could probably play bass,” says Jamie. “He picked up the guitar and he loved it.”
Next, they had to find a drummer, so the band went looking in an unusual place: Craigslist. That’s where they found Ryan Stephenson.
“We were a little nervous going to check him out,” says Jamie, laughing. Little did he know that Ryan’s mother was equally nervous about her then 19-year-old son joining a rock band. But once they met, the whole group bonded quickly.
The band is an Indie-pop rock group with “surfing textures” explains Jamie.
Tough Lovers applied for the contest two years ago when they were just starting out, but didn’t make it in. They decided to wait and develop their sound and improve. The hard work has paid off.
Part of making it into the competition included a “music boot camp” in Princeton, B.C. at the end of August. The camp featured six hours of music classes a day, which included learning about the business side of the industry.
“We made a lot of new friends,” says Graham. “There’s sort of a community that’s been formed from the experience. It’s kind of weird, you’re friends with people even though you’re in competition with one another.”
But Jamie doesn’t see it so much of a competition as he does a learning and networking experience.
“It’s really more about the development of the artists, because in the end, everybody really wins,” he says.
Tough Lovers participated in a benefit concert for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) last Friday (Oct. 19) which raised more than $5,000. Dane and Jamie both lost family members to ALS, adding a personal motivation.
During the competition, each band gets played five times a day over 20 days on The Peak radio station (102.7), but they can get extra air time through requests.
The band is hoping people will like their music enough to vote them into first place (voting closes today, Friday Oct. 26 at 5 p.m.). But whatever happens, they’re grateful for the experience.
“It’s easy to write a song, it’s harder to write a good song,” says Jamie.
You can listen to their music on toughlovers.com or iTunes.