After recently winning Vancouver’s first-ever Peak Performance Project, a contest created by radio station 100.5 The PEAK and Music BC to encourage up-and-coming artists based in British Columbia, We Are The City is humbly starting to realize that what lies ahead for them is going to be a huge departure from their beginnings.
“We [Cayne McKenzie and David Menzel] were friends and started jamming in grade eight and it was the most awful jams you could ever imagine,” says vocalist and keyboardist McKenzie. “He started on bass and I was on guitar, an awful purple one, and our main influence was P.O.D.”
The boys from Kelowna have progressed a lot since these early days. McKenzie invited drummer Andrew Huculiak to join the band in high school after Huculiak’s screamo band fizzled out. Although the band fit together perfectly, they had no idea that the band’s future would be as promising as it’s become.
With Menzel on the guitar and Huculiak on drums, the three youthful composers were shocked to even be accepted into the Peak Performance Project alongside 490 other applicants.
“All the bands in the top 20 were amazing and then [to get into the] top three was just crazy,” McKenzie says. Inspired by artists like Mew, Radiohead, and Coldplay (they quickly realized P.O.D wasn’t their thing), We Are The City was one of only two indie bands to advance in the contest.
But McKenzie barely mentions that they won the entire competition, along with a whole lot of cash. This could be because, for them, it was never about winning but rather about making music together.
“It’s crazy that I’m getting paid for this, but I don’t think any of us are looking at it like that,” says McKenzie. “We’re not concerned with making money, we want to do this.”
The fact that they are now $150,000 richer hasn’t fazed We Are The City. “I feel like this is our test to see if we can really stay true even with tons of money … I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job because for us it’s kind of like the band is a friendship before anything,” says McKenzie.
Their tight-knit friendship is exactly what has helped the band propel themselves onto the Canadian indie music scene. “The three of us are best compared to a marriage, I don’t see anyone else more than I see them,” says McKenzie. “We all share a bed on our manager’s floor, work together all day, and then play together, so I sometimes spend more time with them than with myself.”
Despite its name, We Are The City’s debut album, In A Quiet World, is not very quiet at all. With a refreshing sound, heavy on the keys while staying in the realm of pop-rock, the album – and the band – are full of potential.
“The fact that we love playing and writing music with each other and having that be able to come out of us … as long as we keep [that] intact then I think we’ll be okay with not becoming too hot-headed. We’re not really guys like that anyways.”
On their Reckless Bravery Tour, We Are The City plays at The Green Room on March 6 at 9 p.m.