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Home » Rock n Rolla

Ten Second Epic prove Better Off a blue collar band

Submitted by on September 22, 2011 – 5:18 pmNo Comment

“The one thing we’ve measured our band on is the size of the crowd when we come through,” says Andrew Usenik, frontman for Edmonton punk pop outfit Ten Second Epic.

“And for the past nine years, every step of the way, every record, every time we’ve done a tour, the crowds have gotten bigger.”

The band’s latest offering, Better Off, is the first of three Ten Second Epic albums to not be produced by Garth Richardson (Atreyu, Chevelle, Mudvayne). This time around, the band hired 54-40 guitarist Dave Genn to man the boards, a decision Usenik says strengthened both the songs on the record and the band’s play.

“I would laugh because there would be days when Craig (Spelliscy) and Dan (Carriere) would come home from the studio and they’d feel like they were just learning guitar for the first time they got beat up so bad by Dave.

“I can’t say enough good things about Garth Richardson but a big difference between Dave and Garth is that Garth can’t play any instruments – he is strictly a by-ear producer – whereas Dave Genn can play every instrument,” says Usenik. “And he can play certain instruments, like the piano and guitar, exceptionally well, so that [was] a really strong contribution to the record.”

Encouraging the band to capture the energy of its live set, Usenik says Genn pushed the five-man band to rock the studio as if it were performing on stage.

“We’ve always just written songs that would be fun to play live and I think for whatever reason this cycle, we had a lot of fun playing songs that were a little faster, a little heavier and little more rock and that’s why they flushed out like they did.

“It’s almost as if we’ve been able to take all the lessons we learned as songwriters from Hometown and bring that over to Better Off, but then also incorporate all the enthusiasm and energy and rawness from Count Yourself In into those songs,” he says, adding: “I feel like we’re finally making the music that we’ve been meant to make.”

The video for “Young Classics,” the first single off the album, is a nod to the band’s dusty Alberta roots.

Helmed by prolific Canadian director Michael Maxxis (City and Colour, Billy Talent, Bedouin Soundclash), the video was shot in venues around Edmonton  – from the 100-year-old Transit Hotel to Castrol Raceway and Barry’s Ultra Motorsports Park.

The band wears its hometown pride on its proverbial sleeve.

At tensecondepic.com, the guys even have a link to the Edmonton Oilers’ official website. The reason, says Usenik, is simple: “If you want to be a successful band, you need to associate yourself with greatness.

“We’re unique, in the sense that you hear so many bands coming from Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and we’re all very proud of our hometown. For us it’s a point of pride in saying it’s not about where you’re from, it’s about the music you play and how well you play.”

But, he admits, there are cons to being a band from a place some have dubbed “Deadmonton.” Media coverage can at times be hard to come by, says Usenik, because most of the major stations and publications are centred in the east and far west of the country.

“It’s tough sometimes to catch the eye of a lot of press outlets but that’s a challenge that we face and we wear it as a badge of pride, because we like being an ambassador to the bands who don’t live in those major markets.

“You just got to work your tail off, tour the country as much as you can, and your music will do all the heavy lifting.”

In part because of its Central Alberta roots, but also because of an inherent DIY ethos, Ten Second Epic has earned a reputation as a “blue collar band.” Rather than eschew the tag, Usenik says the band embraces it.

“I’m definitely not insulted by that and I think when people say it, it’s as a compliment. I think that when you take that hard working, slow approach, it’s more rewarding because you come from humble beginnings and you really appreciate every step up the ladder you take.

“It’s not an easy process and you have to be pretty resilient to get through a lot of the shitty times, but I think it’s built us to the band we are today. For us it’s easy motivation because we know where we came from, we know where we are now, and we know that there’s still a long way to go.”

Story by Rémi L. Roy

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