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Rococode cracks Vancouver’s indie-rock empire
You could call it a trial by fire.
When indie rockers Rococode took the stage at last fall’s BreakOut West music festival in Kelowna, they had a reputation to uphold.
True, it was their first time playing live together as a band. But with connections to thriving Canadian acts such as Tegan and Sara, Hannah Georgas, and Mother Mother, the four bandmates knew the bar would be set high right from the start.
“Having those connections is great, because it opens doors, but it also means you have to live up to the hype,” laughs bassist Shaun Huberts over morning coffee in Deep Cove.
Less than 24 hours after that pivotal gig, the verdict was in. A story in a major daily newspaper dubbed Rococode “Vancouver’s new buzz band.”
Talk about making a good first impression.
Since that time, Rococode has continued to barrel forward with the momentum of a runaway indie-rock freight train. In nine months they’ve played a dozen concerts. Four of those shows were opening for Vancouver’s Mother Mother, including a gig at the sold-out Commodore Ballroom.
Just last week, the band received another boost when it was announced they cracked the top 20 in this summer’s Peak Performance Project — a contest for Vancouver’s hottest up-and-coming bands, hosted by 100.5 The Peak FM.
“I’m really excited about that,” says vocalist and keyboardist Laura Smith. “I tried to visualize it happening... it’s amazing we were chosen.”
The members of Rococode playfully refer to themselves as “an unfamiliar band made up of familiar faces.”
At the band’s core are Smith and fellow vocalist/guitarist Andrew Braun, two North Shore residents and graduates of the jazz studies program at Capilano University.
Rounding out the roster are Huberts and Johnny Andrews, a pair of established musicians perhaps best known for their work backing Tegan and Sara.
Braun says the fact that all members have formal training means working together has been a “smooth operation” from the start.
“It’s really nice to be in a band where everyone has a very high level of execution on their instruments,” he says. “We can all play. We all make our living playing with other people, and having that level of technical proficiency means you’re not held back.”
And although their music strays from the jazz mould, that common background gives the musicians flexibility and opens up creative avenues.
“More than anything, it broadens your mind in general. Then you’re able to focus it down into one style,” says Huberts.
“It’s a sense of freedom,” Braun adds. “And when we perform live, we know we don’t have to make every song sound exactly as it did when we recorded it.”
Later this year the band will release its debut album “Guns, Sex and Glory,” which is produced by Braun and Mother Mother frontman Ryan Guldemond.
According to the band’s website, the album promises to be “equal parts arty, accessible, sexy, sweet, badass, bent, and beautiful.”
In the immediate future, Rococode will continue to work on its live shows, with a spate of performances scheduled in Calgary, Edmonton and the Vancouver area in the coming month (including a free show this Friday at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver.)
On Canada Day, the band kicks off its involvement in the Peak Performance Project with a major show in Surrey. The following month, it’s off to the Peak’s “boot camp” for a week of seminars on everything from songwriting to image consulting, marketing, and performing live.
“It’s nice to have a goal to really zone in on. Plus, the prizes are so big that it can really change what you do afterward,” says Braun. “We want to focus on getting better, getting the most we can out of the experience without any other distractions.”
“We’ve all played in other bands, but this is our project, it’s our thing,” adds Huberts. “I think we’re excited to get out there on our own, and we have a new energy.”
For more info or to hear samples of Rococode’s singles “Empire” and “Weapon” visit www.rococode.com. The band will be playing a free show this Friday, June 17, at the Lonsdale Quay Green Market in North Van. Music starts at 5 p.m., with Rococode taking the stage at 9 p.m.