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Being in a successful band means touring, so musicians are typically well-travelled people. Which is why we asked them to tell us about the standout Canadian spots they’ve visited—places that stuck with them for a long time after they’d played the closing show and headed back home.
Sandy Miranda, Fucked Up
When her band goes on tour, bass player Sandy Miranda brings her camera. Her travels, both with Fucked Up and on her own, have taken her across the world and she records it all on 35mm film (you can see more of her excellent photos here). One of her most-loved places in Canada are the islands off the coast of Vancouver.
“I’d say one of the most memorable parts of Canada that we had played is the region of Vancouver to Victoria, BC. In late 2012, we played a festival in Victoria called Rifflandia, followed by a club show in Vancouver to close off the tour. The urban centres of those two cities aren’t particularly remarkable, but the islands that you pass on the ferry ride between the two are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Whenever I’m there traversing the strait on a ferry, I look out at the horizon and daydream about what it would be like to live the rest of my days in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, surrounded by highly textured blues of the water and greens of the islands, with grey mountains poking up and out in the background. Being in the sea calms me down; I would never refuse an opportunity to be by a body of water.”
Patrick Pentland, Sloan
Sloan is on tour right now marking the 20th anniversary of their album “One Chord To Another”. With that many years together as a band, you know they’ve spent an exponential number of hours on the road touring across Canada. Sloan’s lead guitarist and vocalist Patrick Pentland shares three spots that stuck with him.
“Newfoundland is unique in that there is still a sense of an independent history and identity not found elsewhere on the touring circuit. Since they waited until 1949 to join the rest of Canada, you can’t help but feel like a visitor in your own country when you’re playing there. Signal Hill overlooks St. John’s and its harbour, and served as a strategic military fort from the 17th Century until 1960. From atop you can look out over the ocean, where whales can be spotted, and during WW2, German U Boats.
During a tour stop one year a taxi driver took me and a few bandmates on an impromptu tour of the city, ending up on the hill, where he told us about how German mariners would come to shore up the coast and buy bread from the locals. While we were at war with Germany. Of course, Newfoundland wasn’t part of Canada at the time, so some people must have figured ‘It’s not my war, why not make a few Deutsche Marks on the side?’”
“While I’m from Halifax, I rarely go back. When I do, I invariably end up at Pizza Corner–named so for the fact that historically four corners came together, with competing pizza places on at least three of said corners. It may only be two pizza places now, the third corner boasting a frozen yogurt joint. So if you have a late night craving for delicious Donair, but your significant other would prefer late night frozen yogurt, and you’re in Halifax, you’re in luck!”
“Big Bad John’s is a bar attached to the Strathcona Hotel in Victoria. The hotel doubles as a live venue, where Sloan has played several times. Next door is a saloon complete with peanut shells on the floor, and random bras hanging from the ceiling. It’s the perfect place to almost get the crap kicked out of you if your glasses broke earlier in the day, and you are forced to wear prescription sunglasses at night. Apparently regulars don’t take kindly to inappropriate eyewear—depending on the time of day—as I found out several years ago. Luckily a quick thinking crew member stepped in, and I avoided having a second pair of glasses broken that day.”
Nick Sewell, Biblical
“It may not have the reputation of other Alberta tourist spots like Banff or Lake Louise, but the first mountain town to steal my heart was Canmore. About an hour west of Calgary and just before the BC border, Canmore left me gobsmacked at the time. We arrived just before dusk and the Three Sisters—a trio of soaring peaks—were set against a sky that was straight out of a Tolkien fantasy. I was struck by how something so massive could still be so silent. As we started to unload our gear for the show, I turned to our drummer Jim, who scanned the scenery in keen appraisal: ‘I don’t know… Kind of smacks of effort, doesn’t it?’”