There is a superstition surrounding SHiNDiG about a “curse” that befalls its winners whereby they are banished to obscurity after some indeterminate amount of time following their triumph. You could suppose that a person’s opinions about this curse would depend on the height of the respective winners’ podium, so it goes without saying that the boys in the power-pop, punk-and-roll ensemble Greenback High, dodged it.
Mulling about in their East Van jam space, the members—who go by the stage-names of Joshy Atomic, Rob Beardo, FloorTom Jones, and latest addition JJ Heathen—joke about their meteoric rise to runner-updom as they set up for a day of demoing. Joking aside, the band is legitimately grateful for getting as far as they did, explaining that they never thought they would make it past the first round, let alone into the finals.
“We were just glad we got to play and people liked it,” says Beardo.
The group formed around a Hallowe’en show in 2010 playing covers, but despite deciding to continue on as a band, the band’s other musical commitments kept them fairly busy. Atomic and former-guitarist Matt Snakes played for the Jolts, Beardo with Vicious Cycles, and former D.O.A. drummer Jones played with Beardo in the James T. Kirks, amongst others. All this put Greenback High on the bench for most of 2011, but with the boys gearing up this past year, the SHiNDiG competition ended up being a somewhat grand finish. It did, however, present other challenges.
“Well, after the first round Matt had to leave the band. He just had personal stuff and other band stuff going on,” says Atomic, with Beardo adding, “So we thought, [Jones] sings anyways and knows the material, so it just made sense for him to move to guitar. We were recording stuff at JJ’s house and he’s our friend, so we thought we’d get him to take the drums. It all just fit together very naturally.”
“And he has a van,” chimed in Atomic.
Despite the lineup changes — and much to the bands surprise — they won the second round as well. “Then you actually start to think you could win this thing,” laughs Atomic; which brings us to the final.
“I injured myself falling off a ladder at work,” Heathen admits with a smile and a shrug.
“So I moved back to drums and we were down to a three piece,” said FloorTom, making Greenback High possibly the only band in SHiNDIG history to perform all three rounds with a different lineup for each show.
Whether or not the odds were with or against them at that point seemed irrelevant. Simply making it to the finals was enough for the band.
“It’s all free studio time,” said Beardo. “The only real difference between first and second is driving to record in Port Coquitlam instead of Burnaby, and we would have been just as happy with getting third and going to Fader cause it’s a great studio too.” The second prize studio time at Vogville in PoCo will, by the sounds of things, be broken up into smaller sessions for what would become a series of shorter releases. As for the present, the Bombs Away digital single that they released last November will have a physical seven-inch release in March. They are also contributing to a few forthcoming compilations including a Shake! Records compilation and a benefit for the Devon R.B. Clifford Memorial Foundation called The Party Lives On, the latter of which will have an album release show on February 21 at the Rickshaw.
The jam they were preparing for during our interview was to complete a demo before Jones joined D.O.A. for their farewell tour, with the goal of having a handful of songs ready for the studio by the tour’s end. Despite this brief outing—and even though Atomic still plays with the Jolts and Beardo with Vicious Cylces — one thing is certain: Greenback High isn’t simply a side-project anymore.
Missed SHiNDiG? No problem. Catch Greenback High at the Electric Owl on February 6, alongside Dead Ghosts.