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We Are The City level the playing field

Indie band look to build on Peak Performance win

- We Are The City, Harmony Arts Festival, Sunset Concert Series, John Lawson Park, Monday, Aug. 1 at 7: 30 p.m.

KELOWNA'S selfprofessed "indefinable progressive rock" band We Are The City will be bringing their brand of unique music to West Vancouver's Harmony Arts Festival.

"We have been pegged as a progressive rock group, but I would like to think that we're the kind of group that if I have an idea, or whatever idea we have as a band, we just do it," says drummer Andy Huculiak, 21. "We don't worry about whether or not the radio will play it because we sincerely love the music that we write and we put everything into it."

Huculiak is joined in the band by two other 21year olds, lead singer and keyboardist Cayne McKenzie and guitarist Blake Enemark. The band formed in 2009 while Huculiak and McKenzie were in high school. Originally the band's guitarist was fellow classmate David Menzel.

After a year of playing in garages - or wherever else they could find space - We Are The City became one of the more recognized local bands in B.C.

In 2010 they not only released their well-received first LP In A Quiet World, but they also managed to win the first instalment of the Peak Performance Project music competition. That garnered them a $150,000 cheque.

"Man it was totally crazy. It was kind of a surreal experience and it is still completely with us until this day," says Huculiak. "It is one of the reasons why we can still go on tours and why we can still be on an indie label and not have to worry about the pressure of recording our next album."

After the success of 2010 We Are The City had to deal with Menzel leaving the band for personal reasons. Huculiak said that with Menzel's departure, he and McKenzie had a lot of time but no confidence to write songs for We Are The City.

Instead they returned to a side project they had conceived in high school. They put T-shirts over their faces and started playing a few shows. They were called High School.

"It was an experiment in anonymity to see if anyone noticed that it was us," says Huculiak.

The music is haunting, and intimately connected with the pain and struggle of selfunderstanding that teenagers grope with. It is analogous to real high school, as if to say this is where our music originated from, this is our foundation, and from here we move forward.

For Huculiak the masks helped assert this theme and helped represent the unpredictable and "indefinable" nature of the band.

"I kind of like the idea that we were able to level the playing field for ourselves.

There was no longer the expectation to write the next big album, the much anticipated next full length," he said. "It was a way for us to say it's not about our faces, and it's not about what we have created in the past, it's more about the music and how it is prepping us for the next release we are working on."

When Enemark joined the band they realized that they were able to incorporate him into High School, and in turn, incorporate High School into We Are The City. The result was a six-song EP. It was naturally titled High School.

With Enemark in the band, We Are The City has toured across Canada, and has slowly begun to play at larger, and larger venues. Recently they performed at the outdoor concerts at Stanley Park for Vancouver's 125th birthday.

"The last show was the biggest for us. There was about 1,500 people and it was exciting and nerve-racking," says Huculiak. "I can't really put into words what it's like to have a completely ordinary day, be a completely ordinary person, then go play a show like that, see so many people, meet so many people, make so many friends and then go back home and do very ordinary things. It's crazy."

The Harmony Arts Festival will mark the first time that We Are The City has played on the North Shore.

"Totally excited for it," says Huculiak. "If the (Stanley Park show) is any indicator of how nice Vancouver is to us, then I am really excited for this show."

The band will be going on tour across Canada until the fall, and then they will be returning to the studio to begin recording their sophomore LP.

They will be playing Monday, Aug. 1 at 7: 30 p.m. To get a preview of their music before the Harmony Arts Festival visit www.wearethecity. ca.