(*Note: This is an issue featuring a S.C.E.N.E artist.)
One of the bands that contacted me earliest to be interviewed for S.C.E.N.E was Theatre Crisp.
Nicer still, the band was first to respond about getting a later interview when I couldn’t make it to S.C.E.N.E.
Theatre Crisp is very unique, in that they combine Hip-Hop with a live, traditional bass/drums/guitar band.
Recently, the band held their 3rd annual Petestock and raised over $1800 for charity. They’re a great band, and they do some great work.
It was nice to talk with the guys, and I hope I get to see a live show soon.
How did the group get it’s start?
PETER:The whole thing started in December 2008 with Kyle who at the time had already been writting hip-hop tracks for 10 years. He worked with our original guitarist (also named Kyle) and myself and was already friends with Trevor from highschool. He always wanted a live band to back him up on stage instead of the typical mp3. beat playing in the background while he raps. So knowing that we all played different instruments he got us together to jam on friday nights just for fun and after a few months we decided that we could actually give it a real shot and thus Theatre Crisp was born. A few months after that Dave (DC) showed up with a mutual friend and his tap shoes. He liked dancing with us so much he kept coming out and eventually jsut became the 5th member of Theatre Crisp.
Kyle: Theatre Crisp got its start when our lead vocalist Kyle aka humbleHAB wanted to work on producing his hip hop music with a full band. Computer beats and production were just not cutting it anymore and instrumental song writing with a band was just the next step that had to be taken to do something different. You can create such a better live feel when you have a band backing you up both on stage and in the studio. Every member kind of just fell into place, bringing their own influences and originality to the sound of the band.
DC: It all began with Kyle Petch, AKA Habbilus, wanting to bring a band behind some of the tunes that he had written as an MC. I was a hip hop and Habbilus fan since high school so when we met and started jamming it wasn’t long before he considered me a member of Theatre Crisp and viola, you have taps.
You guys are very unique, in that you perform hip-hop and have a standard guitar/ drums/ bass band at the same time. What made you decide to perform that way?
PETER: Again this all goes back to Kyle not wanting to perform hip-hop in the typical way of an mp3 track playing in the background, and once we started jamming for fun and realized that we all worked together real well it really started to take off from there.
Kyle: I kind of just answered the 2nd question in my answer to the 1st. Having a band creates so much more for this style of music. Its not just one guy jumping around on stage with a DJ spinning his beats for him (not theres anything wrong with that, its just been done so many times). Its a rapper feeding off the vibe of everyone else in the band, creating music together rather than just for one’s self. The live sound of real instruments being played, and the groove that everyone gets into, creates a more organic sound to this particular kind of hip hop style.
DC: Well like how the band got started, it was hip hop beats as Habbilus, and with the band we still want/have that feel, but were all about making fresh new funky sounds, still experimenting with other sounds and grooves too. To top the sound right off Habbilus’ lyrics are like crispy wafers that deliciously crunch as you digest them. Its all positive music.
Alot of your lyrics are very positive, but not in such a way that things feel sugar-coated. Can you tell me a little bit about the writing process? PETER: The lyrics are all Kyle, but for the overall song Kyle will bring a simple chord progression to the band where we in turn “crispify” it by adding all out our own parts and work out the structure together.
Kyle: Kyle has been writing raps for almost 15 years, and he has always maintained a postive vibe in his writing. Generally, most of the songs start with him putting together a chord progression acoustically, with lyrics aswell, in which the band uses as a blueprint to construct a full sound out of. With everyone coming from different musical backgrounds, it allows each band member to put there own touch on each song. We are a lyric drivin band though, and thats due to the thought provoking poetry that Kyle writes. He just likes being real with people, he wants them to relate to what he talks about in the songs. With lots of negativity in the world today, some postive vibes in this style of music can go along way.
DC: Thats all Petch. Like i said I was a fan back in high school when he was makin’ Habbilus mixtapes. All I can say is, I can relate to it, and I think the vast majority can too. He deals with real life in his raps, some call it storytelling music. Whatever it is and how he comes up with it, it has weight behind it and for those who really ‘listen’ to the music understand that.
How would you describe your sound, yourselves?
Peter: We’re pretty unique so it’s hard to label us as any one specific genre so we’ve been calling it “Funk-Hop”. We’re a pretty cross-genre band so people have comparred us to everything from Sublime, Rage Against The Machine, Beastie Boys and Atmosphere to name a few. I think our diverse sound caters to so many people so depending on their own personal taste they tend to pick out whatever genre they relate to most in our music.
Kyle: We are a mixture of hip hop, funk and rock with a sprinkle of regga and blues almost. But we lean more towards the hip hop and funk side of things I’d say. We’ve been describing ourselves as funk-hop for the past while, so we’ll go with that.
DC:Well I think Pete’s coining “Funk-Hop” and I like it. but it’s just really be yourself, have a good time, live your life to the fullest music.
You all played S.C.E.N.E music festival recently. What was that experience like?
Peter: SCENE’s always an awesome festival to play. Especially for Southern Ontario and Niagara it really is the only venue that features so many indie artists at one time. Having the oppertunity to represent our hometown in a festival like this is real real honor and great oppertunity to reach out to people who otherwise wouldn’t necesarilly have the gotten the chance to hear our music.
Kyle: SCENE is a great event for all music lovers, from any genre. Its a a full day party with 160+ bands and close to 6 or 7000 fans. You couldn’t ask for a better time. Its a chance to gain some exposure and gain new fans. This was our 2nd year playing it and really, we hope to come back every year. Playing a festival like this in your hometown is awesome! Having the merch area in Market Place Square is great for all the bands to sell clothing and CDs, and talk to fans close hand. Its a well orginized event.
DC: We all Love S.C.E.N.E it’s a crazy day that any music lover waits for! I have been going for years just different now we’re playing. Great time, great way to reach a new audience, great entertainment, great fans!
I know one event you all have coming up is Petestock. Can you tell me about that event?
Peter: Petestock’s really my “baby” and the rest of Theatre Crisp all contributes to help make it work.
In 2010 I wanted a way for Theatre Crisp to say thanks to its fans, so with the help of my band mates we hosted the 1st Annual PETESTOCK Music Festival consisting of 6 local bands and 120 fans. In 2011 after building the festivals reputation and gaining more connections in the music industry PETESTOCK had 9 performing artists, 200 fans and 100% of its profit donated to the Niagara Peninsula Children’s Center. For 2012 PETESTOCK is now recognized in the Niagara Indie music scene as Niagara On The Lake’s premier music event. We have a total of 13 of the Niagara regions biggest and best bands. Local media outlets will be on site covering the event. There is an estimated 350+ fans coming out to this year’s festival and again 100% of its profit is being donated to charity. This year we are proud to announce that we are working in cooperation with Niagara On The Lake’s Red Roof Retreat (http://www.redroofretreat.com/) to help raise funds for them.
The whole concept of this event is “Local artists giving back to the community”. PETESTOCK is unique in the way that it is run 100% by volunteers with every band also volunteering their time to rally together to give back to Niagara. This really is the only event around which caters to young Indie bands from all genres be it folk, funk or punk along with Niagara’s young adults to give them the opportunity to do something tangible with no strings attached, and no middle man; just the pure love of music and love for Niagara.