What started as four high school kids playing their favourite songs from the Beatles became a polished, high-energy indie pop band touring cities all over North America.
Lead singer Drew Shalka and drummer Derek Chalut met in junior high. The two shared passionate rambles about Paul McCartney and other musical trailblazers from the 50s and 60s. As they entered high school, two band members became four with the arrival of rhythm guitarist Alex Fedorouk and lead guitarist Travis Topylki. Formed in 2009, the band set forward with a vision of being a few kids who played classic songs from Elvis to the Beach Boys.
But, before really taking off, every band needs a name, right? What’s the significance of the name “FKB”? “The name FKB doesn’t stand for anything,” Shalka explains, “It was the name of a bar where we all lived near growing up. We needed a name, so we thought it would be a funny way to remember the band when we were kids.”
The four began playing all over their hometown, Bonnyville, Alberta. “We would wear white dress shirts with suspenders like Paul McCartney was wearing at his shows at the time,” Shalka recalls.
The band’s first show was a cancer awareness fundraiser they put on themselves in the small Albertan hamlet, Admore. Sabulka recalls the entire experience being nerve-racking. “We spent months putting together the setlist,” he says, “I think we spent three days in the hall itself just getting the sound the best we could… we even thought we should change instruments every song.”
“We want people to feel good. Regardless of the mood they’re in when they listen to our music or come to our show, we want them to leave feeling better than they did when they came in.”
Drew Shalka, lead vocalist of FKB
Since then, the band has performed over 300 shows across North America. This past September, they played several shows in Banff and Edmonton.
Surrounded by a community of seasoned professionals, FKB has had the opportunity to learn from other artists and musicians. Clayton Bellamy from the Road Runners and Dave Davidson from country music’s Tupelo Honey helped shape the band into what they are today. Shalka says the band learned much about the music business through the two musicians.
Being relatively fresh to the industry, the band of four wants to ensure they get it right. “There are so many little details that are so important, and if you get them wrong, you’re signalling to people that you’re not ready yet,” says Shalka. “It’s great to have people who can make sure you don’t get those things wrong when you’re making first impressions.”
This past spring, FKB won the Jim Beam National Talent search in Toronto. While grateful for the significant milestones, Shalka says the little accomplishments stick with him the most. “When a seasoned professional just says, ‘Hey, that was really good,’ it’s those niche compliments [that matter]. When we worked on something and someone noticed, those are my proudest moments.”
The band made their official debut music release in 2014. Their first EP, called 123 FKB, gives off a nostalgic classic rock feel with guitar solos that make me feel like I’m on a road trip in 1960s southern California.
“We both loved that 50s and 60s music. We wanted to form this band of high school kids who would play Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys.”
Drew Shalka, lead vocalist of FKB
The release of their 2020 single, Glow, catalyzed a change in the band’s sound which bounced from 50s and 60s classic rock to indie pop music that makes you want to dance.
“The moment there was a demo of that song, I couldn’t stop listening to it,” Shalka recalls, “With our first EP, we started more as a garage rock band. We got a bit more into the 70s and 80s with Glow.”
Through their music, the band hopes to brighten up days and get people excited and moving. “We want people to feel good,” says Shalka, “Regardless of the mood they’re in when they listen to our music or come to our show, we want them to leave feeling better than they did when they came in.”
FKB’s new single, “Colourblind“, releases on October 20 accompanied by a music video. You can listen to their music on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and other music streaming platforms.
Photos by Emily Welz