- The Left, part of SummerFest at Lonsdale Quay Market, in partnership with 100.5 The Peak, Sunday, July 22, from 1 to 3 p.m. Free. Info: www.lonsdalequay.com.
KEVIN Gau is ecstatic.
His wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Monday night and he couldn't be happier.
"We named her Penny Louise so I can call her Penny Lou," the proud papa shares via phone Tuesday afternoon.
The life-changing experience has resulted in the frontman of The Left, a Vancouver-based band celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, finding increased meaning in their latest album. Cycles, the band's fifth, ponders the human journey, taking into account love, death and growing up.
"We started this band when we were kids and so it's just like the cycles of life and growing and changing, And now I'm excited about teaching my daughter how to play guitar and teach her how to sing some harmonies. Maybe she'll be on the next record," Gau laughs.
The Left are set to play a free show in North Vancouver Sunday, July 22, as part of SummerFest at Lonsdale Quay Market, an annual festival on now until Sept. 2.
SummerFest features a variety of programming including Dance Saturdays, dance demonstrations and lessons, from 2 to 4 p.m., alternating between salsa and swing each week. Tomorrow, swing is the focus.
The festival also boasts a weekly concert series, with performances held Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. and on holiday Mondays. Concert Sundays is being offered in partnership with Vancouver radio station 100.5 The Peak, and features a host of B.C.-bred Peak Performance Project alumni. The Peak and Music B.C. launched the Peak Performance Project to give local artists increased recognition and support. Through the professional development program, each year, 20 bands are given radio airplay, industry training, high-profile showcases, and funds to help further their careers.
Gau is incredibly grateful for the support The Left received through the inaugural edition of the project in 2009. They were named second place winners and were awarded $75,000. "Without the Peak we had no shot, it was our chance," he says.
The support made a tremendous difference in their career, helping them record, mix and master Cycles, buy a 15passenger van, tour the United States and hire a radio tracker, which resulted in their getting picked up by 20 United States stations.
"We wouldn't have been able to do that without that money," says Gau.
From humble beginnings in their native Langley, where all band members still reside, with the exception of Gau who calls Vancouver home, The Left - Gau (guitar and lead vocals), Carl Davis (guitar and vocals), Eric Davis (drums and vocals), Josh Wyper (keys and vocals) and Jeremiah Dyck (bass) - are continuing their rise to the top.
Coincidentally, they all studied music in high school under the tutelage of Carl and Eric's father.
"Their dad taught us all music, all five of us," says Gau. "We were all in different grades so we weren't friends in high school but we all went to the same college and we met there and started the band."
The band's name is a reference to euchre, a card game they were big fans of in college.
"In it there's a right bower and a left bower and the left bower is the one that can change suits so it's almost a better card than the card that's higher than it because you can trick your opponent with it," explains Gau.
The Left are currently managed by the same manager as 54-40, Allen Moy, and have had the opportunity to tour with the famed Canadian recording artists, as well as Blind Melon, Hedley and The Trews.
"It's been crazy," says Gau. "You always hear people say, 'It's surreal and it's great,' but it really is and you never think you'd meet the band that you grew up idolizing or let alone share the manager. I remember having 54-40 posters on my wall."
"You're developing relationships too with them, which is the whole next level of your dreams coming true right before your eyes. But you're always worried about being good enough. It's always in an artist's mind, the pressure to be original," he adds.
An important key to The Left's success is their democratic approach. While Gau is often the lead songwriter, the band shares writing credits equally.
"Everybody just brings everything they have to the band," he says. "Like, if our bus breaks down on tour, Jeremiah's under it fixing it. We're all sitting there passing him tools."
"Everyone brings their own thing to the table so we just thought, 'Why should we split the SOCAN credits for one guy when everyone's doing everything. It's made it work really well because everyone feels like they own the project and the team," he adds.
The band members also have diverse tastes in music, which, in terms of writing, takes them in different directions due to the collaborative system that unfolds as they pen melodic tunes, with a strong focus on harmony and with respect to the pop tradition.
Cycles was released in January and was produced by Garth Richardson (Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Ben Kaplan (Shakira).
"They are just industry pros, they've been in it forever," says Gau.
The Left endeavoured to learn all they could from the recording giants, especially Carl who bought an old soundboard from Richardson and is continuing to hone his skills and is beginning to work with bands himself. Having just wrapped a West Coast tour, The Left have currently taken a break from touring, with the exception of this weekend's North Vancouver show and a performance Aug. 5 at the Tsawwassen Sun Festival, and are helping Carl build a home recording studio.
"From here on in we'll probably just do all of our recordings in house," says Gau.
The Left have recorded six songs that may find their way onto their next record and plan to feature a few with Wyper as lead vocalist.
"He's got this really raspy voice and mine's smooth, so it's a good mix," says Gau.
The Left is very self-reliant, utilizing the skills of those in its extended family and friend network, from Eric's wife who's a photographer to videographer friends.
"I think that's what it takes in this day and age to make it as a band," says Gau.
While close-knit, the members of The Left also undertake a variety of side projects. For example, Gau is currently working on a children's album and is most proud of the original song, "I Don't Need To Sleep To Dream." He hopes to release the work in six months or so.
The other band members also pursue their own projects, from playing in other bands, to playing in church on Sundays.
"We just keep busy, just keep yourself excited about music and then when you get together with your buds that you haven't seen, it's fresh and exciting," says Gau.
While 2012 is a milestone year for the band, they plan to celebrate it quietly, focusing on their craft, potentially getting away to Carl's father-in-law's cabin to do some writing.
No matter where their career takes them, they plan to remain dedicated to the journey.
"We all just really like making music and we're not good at anything else," says Gau. "My mother-in-law asked me one of the first times I met her, 'Oh you're a musician? What's your Plan B?' And I said, 'I don't have a plan b and I don't have a Plan B about your daughter either.' It's kept me a musician."
Other bands featured as part of SummerFest's Concert Sundays include Redgy Blackout on July 29, Kyprios and The Chaperones Aug. 5, Acres of Lions, Aug. 6, Dominique Fricot, Aug. 12, Rococode Aug. 19, Steph Macpherson Aug. 26 and Wassabi Collective Sept. 2.
Children's activities are also offered throughout SummerFest, including face painting, balloon twisting and henna tattoos. The Salmon Shop and Sharky's Chophouse hosts a charity barbecue on Saturdays and Sundays, respectively. Festival proceeds will support the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation.
For more information SummerFest, visit www.lonsdalequay. com.
For more information on the Peak Performance Project, visit peakperformanceproject.com.