Though the alternative music scene in Edmonton has been in a steady decline over the last decade (and more heavily with the semi-recent loss of several iconic venues), it still maintains a dedicated following with those who chose to spend their hard-earned money by supporting their favourite local bands and show spots.
This is touched upon in interview with Barrett Klesko – lead singer of the local metal band All Else Fails, concerning the recent release of their fourth album The Forever Lie. Having recently returned from touring in India, Klesko shared his feelings toward the presence of alternative music within the local setting and abroad.
“We did a lot of touring across Canada, but as the music scene crashed in Canada – it didn’t become feasible to do anymore,” said Klesko.
“This year we wanted to continue touring, so overseas stuff is the name of the game.”
With the lack of a strong metal community in Canada, many bands find artistic refuge across Europe, South America, and the southern United States. That’s not to say, however, that the scene in Canada is completely dead.
“The smaller indie-based scene here is really great,” said Klesko. “We’ve got several world-class metal and punk bands in Edmonton, especially punk bands. The thing is, there’s no market for it here.”
While the market for alternative music has heavily shifted outside of Canada, the independent scene mentioned by Klesko is vital in maintaining the artistic output of these bands.
“The album was going really poorly and the community rallied behind us a little bit, we funded it in like two days,” he said.
As with many metal bands, the financial aspects of touring and pushing out new material proved to be challenging. However, the tenacity of the band members and the support received from the community aided greatly in their new album’s release.
“If we didn’t have the support of our fanbase, and not just that, but the rest of the music scene (like the other bands) – there’s no way the album would have come out,” Klesko said.
The strength of this fanbase was quite evident throughout the album’s release party, which was held at The Forge on Feb. 18. While community has always been a crucial aspect in metal music, this release party felt more personal – likely due to the fact that much of the crowd had been following the band over their 10-year lifespan.
Midway through the show, Klesko announced that he and the band’s original lineup would be performing a few of their older tracks for the audience. The crowd erupted with cheers and applause as the original members geared up and rocked out. While I didn’t experience the nostalgic sensations felt by the other audience members, it was interesting to see how the band had grown and how their sound had developed over the years.
In experiencing the full range of what All Else Fails chooses to express with their music and the amount of commitment that has been a necessity in its creation, it quickly becomes apparent that the band is extremely dedicated.
“You don’t tour because you get paid for it,” said Klesko, “you tour because you have a project that you’re passionate about and you want to get it out.”
Although most of the band’s membership are unable to justify working as full-time musicians, they still make a concerted effort to push out as much material and tour as frequently as possible. It’s this type of commitment on which local music scenes thrive, and is a driving force for the expansion and appreciation of music internationally. The symbiotic relationship between artist and community is becoming an ever more crucial aspect in the creation of unique music and All Else Fails has thoroughly demonstrated the value of this.
Cover photo by Grace Papineau-Couture.