By Yasmine Shemesh
Sometimes, a group comes along that is equal parts talent, passion and sincerity. This is one of those times. Vancouver, meet Goodwood Atoms.
Two summers ago, musicians Francis Hooper and Joe Pooley were on the hunt for a jam space to fuse their artistic energies. After stumbling across the perfect sound house, their process began organically—a couple of beers, a good conversation and letting the music flow.
“We would just hang out and jam together,” bassist Pooley said. “Working on the seeds of songs and developing them, growing them over time.” Creativity came spontaneously as a result of being in caught in a moment, with nothing forced nor preconceived.
“Sometimes you get into these deep conversations,” guitarist and lead vocalist Hooper continued. “And it just naturally ends and then you pick up the guitar. It’s cool, because it’s a reflection of the talk.”
A couple of recruited friends here, a Craigslist ad there and the band was complete. The Vancouver-based line-up now includes Jay Goto on guitar, Dawson Verboven on fiddle and special effects, and Justin Banmann on drums. All talented in their own right, each member brings something unique to the table. Hooper has a wild howl that is otherworldly; melodic and beautifully raw, his voice is a soulful accompaniment to his acoustic guitar and the band’s predominately string-driven sound. Verboven adds an element of whimsy with his fiddle and spacey electronics while Pooley is a master on his bass, providing a solid backbone to Goto’s blistering guitar riffs. Carrying the rhythm of it all is Banmann, with his skilled and precise drumming. Diverse in their dynamics, Goodwood Atoms come together in harmony, taking listeners on a magical, musical journey into their atmospheric world.
More so focused on tone poems and evoking a feeling rather than a narrative, the band uses words and sounds to conjure different images and ideas, creating a mood in a marriage of the past and the future, grassroots and electronic. They cite Amon Tobin, Radiohead and The Beatles as inspiration, but their influences have a varied range from rock to punk to even classical music. Right now, the boys are smitten with British indie rockers alt-J, particularly with their inaugural record, An Awesome Wave. “The way it’s crafted,” Hooper gushed. “It’s just…” He trailed off and Pooley finished the thought, adding “A masterpiece.”
The five-piece has just released their own debut, a five-track EP called Together, To Get Her that showcases their well-rounded musical chops. ”Red Wine, Old News” is a sophisticated knee-slapper laden with earthy undertones, energy-driven acoustic strums and cosmic highlights. Slowing things down is “I Know, She Knows,” a haunting number laced with tribal breakdowns that brim with emotion. Listen to it once and it’ll be in your head for days. August will also see a compilation of cuts recorded live at Mushroom Studios—the iconic space where the likes of Heart, 54-40, and, rumour has it, Led Zeppelin once called their temporary home.
Goodwood Atoms is currently waist-deep in this year’s BC PEAK Performance Project, a program put on by radio station 102.7 The PEAK and designed to educate, promote, develop and launch the careers of some of British Columbia’s most talented musicians. The top three artists will perform at the PEAK Performance Project Finale Concert in November, where first place takes home $102,700. “Its really created a community,” Hooper said of the experience. “Being a part of this project has been really, really inspiring.”
And the best part? These guys are 100 per cent genuine. “I think that’s what special about the band,” Pooley said. “We are all just really passionate about music and making music. That’s the only real driving force behind what we do.”
Download Together, To Get Her for free on Goodwood Atoms’ website.
Published online at www.vancitybuzz.com, August 2014