Mike Bernard was looking for a fresh start in the fall of 2012 when he signed up for an IT course in his community of Tobique First Nation. It was there that he met fellow residents Jake Perley and Sean Nicholas, also looking for a new life path.
But what originally brought the three men together quickly morphed into something else altogether. It was in that IT class that Kickin’ Krotch – the Capital region’s top all-aboriginal rock/metal band – was born.
Just under a year and a half later, the group is seeing the fruits of their labour in a big way. They have a full album, a handful of music videos and a slate of shows booked for high-profile venues like the Fredericton Playhouse and even the East Coast Music Awards [ECMAs] in the coming months. The band has also recently been nominated for Aboriginal Recording of the Year at the EMCAs.
Bernard took a few minutes out of his busy songwriting schedule to talk to the Brunswickan about the band’s humble beginnings, its burgeoning success and their big plans for the future.
“I was looking into getting into IT . . . It didn’t work out how I planned, but everything happens for a reason,” said Bernard, adding that despite the group’s various musical influences, their collective sound is one that is entirely their own.
“[The other guys’] music is a little different from mine, but that’s what makes our sound – just the different styles and genres that we contribute to our band. There’s metal, hard rock, a little pop . . . a little bit of everything.”
Thirty-seven-year-old Bernard writes all the band’s music himself, drawing inspiration from the hardships in his own life.
“I struggled with addictions most of my life . . . growing up [in Tobique First Nation] and being around alcohol and drugs and all that, and feeling sort of stuck, like you can’t get out. That’s what inspired all my writing – on this album anyway,” he said, adding that he wished he’d gotten into music sooner but “you’re never too old – just look at me.”
“Everything’s just seemed so much clearer [since forming the band]. I’m hungry: hungry for success, hungry to be heard, hungry to be recognized . . . as a voice for all First Nations people who are too afraid to speak out.”
Since adding two new members – Frank Simon and Kevin Connor Ward, both from Tobique First Nation – the group has released their first self-titled, eight-track album with Fredericton’s 2Dogs Productions.
Bernard looks back fondly on its production. After all, it is what helped them snag a coveted spot at the ECMAs this April.
“I submitted our band to the membership and all that, and I was like ‘okay, we have an album, let’s see if we can get something.’ I guess they liked our stuff and they want us to showcase,” said Bernard.
“I was in shock. It was very, very exciting.”
Frederictonians will have a chance to hear Kickin’ Krotch’s unique repertoire at several upcoming events before their performance at the ECMAs, first at the Capital Complex on Feb. 27 and then at the Fredericton Playhouse on March 14.
Bernard promises a “high-intensity” show.
“We want to get your blood pumping and get you moving and into the music,” he said.
“We want everyone to have a good time, and that’s what we try to do.”
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