The Sunpilots rise to McCloskey stage for one final evening

The Sunpilots, on stage at McCloskey's during their first show last night, June 8. The Aussie and European foursome play again this evening, June 9. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Aussie/European rockers start Friday, June 9, show at 9 p.m.

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

CHESTERVILLE — Call it the uber-ization of travelling the world as an independent rock band.

On tour for five years and counting, The Sunpilots have built and ridden a wave of online fan support that finally landed them in Canada earlier this spring — including a two-show gig in Chesterville this week.

Based in Berlin, Germany, but founded in Sydney, Australia, the nomadic indie- and grunge-rockers boast a Facebook following of over 25,000 people.

Their website includes a crowd-funding section where pledges range from $5 for a mere good vibe to larger sums for downloadable albums and other merchandise. It goes all the way up to a potential $10,000 to help the group buy a van for a planned North American tour after they complete their third album. The Sunpilots promise to pen and record a special song for the contributor and take them on the road for a weekend.

But fan support is more than virtually interfaced through the Internet and social media: Vocalist Raj Siva-Rajah, guitarist Bob Spencer, drummer Kay Ketting, and bassist Stefan Bielik literally rely on their public for a place to crash after every show.

“We wouldn’t even be able to tour without our fans, not just from a financial support point of view: We stay with them on tour. We do a lot of couch surfing with fans,” says the band’s frontman. Case in point was a couple of Canadian tourists who recently caught The Sunpilots’ show in Berlin, then hosted the band here in Ontario as Siva-Rajah celebrated his birthday earlier this week. “It’s just awesome having fans that are so supportive, it really makes a difference,” he says.

For their Chesterville stop, the group is naturally resting up at the McCloskey Hotel, venue for their June 8 and June 9 performances.

General manager Daniel Riitano’s hospitality even coaxed them onto the stage a night earlier than expected, when they previewed their sound during the regular open-mic Wednesday at McCloskey’s.

“I would say it’s going to be a pretty grungy rock show,” says Siva-Rajah of their Thursday and Friday night appearances at the 22 Victoria Street venue. “It’s high energy.”

After Chesterville, their journey continues aboard a rented white van — splashed with The Sunpilots logo — for a Saturday night appearance at Avante-Garde Bar & Gift Shop in Ottawa. Then it’s off to Montreal, Moncton and Halifax — and in a few weeks’ time, back to Berlin to complete album number three.

“It’s going to be called Battlecry,” reveals Spencer after his bandmates give the all-clear to debut the name of the first Sunpilots’ CD in almost five years.

“The new stuff is very different to the first two albums,” explains Siva-Rajah, who co-founded the band with Spencer and two other individuals in Australia. “This album is inspired by experiences as a real band, full-time touring on the road, and the stories of people we’ve stayed with. Our music has changed a lot. It’s heavier and grungier because it’s what we like doing on stage, and it’s translating to the music.”

“The new songs are about standing up for equality and fighting hate — something we’ve been getting more active with over the last few years. They’re inspired by the things we’ve seen and experienced since we started living on the road.”

Although the band started in Australia and achieved some success Down Under, recording artists from that huge and sparsely populated country — much like Canada — often need to leave in pursuit of greater recognition. Unlike Canada, they don’t have a United States on their doorstep. Both Spencer and Siva-Rajah were already dual nationals with the UK, making Europe a logical choice for their larger milieu. After the relocation to Berlin, the other Aussie band members dropped out — and Bielik of Austria and Ketting of The Netherlands settled in as replacements.

The international foursome say they’ve received a great response in Canada. They’ve enjoyed such quintessential Canadian experiences as fresh maple syrup, chipping a thick coating of freezing rain off their vehicle in April, and nearly hitting a moose on a provincial highway.

The Sunpilots’ show tonight (June 9) starts 9 p.m. at McCloskey’s.


Two of The Sunpilots’ members with the rented van they’ve been using to travel the country: guitarist Bob Spencer (left) and drummer Kay Ketting. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News


Check out the band’s official channels:

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