On a steamy summer night in a cramped shed in rural Flamborough, a group of four teenage boys are making music. Drums, keyboards, and a pair of guitars compete, raising the decibel level to ear crunching. The quartet — Ryan Gaynor, 19; Nik Hirst, 18; Luke Krznaric, 19; and Max Boyko, 19 — are www.facebook.com/The Lost Angelosthe Lost AngelosEND, one of dozens of “garage bands” honing their craft across the city.
These bands share a passion for music and the need to share it. With hard work, hours of practice, some inherent talent, and a bit of luck, they might succeed. You’ll find them on stage some weeknight in a local bar, or stumble across their Facebook page. Often, they play, and fade, and are replaced by the next group. Sometimes, that first gig is an on-ramp to a long and winding road to stardom.
In tech class at Waterdown High School, while discussing what they had done over the summer, Ryan mentioned he had gone to see Levon Helm. Fellow grade niner Nik Hirst was the only other person in the room who knew who Levon Helm was, and their friendship took off from there. Luke and Max were friends from St. Marys High School. But it was a chance meeting between Ryan and Luke, at a St. Mary’s drum line practice, that got things rolling. “We were able to play cohesively,’ said Gaynor, “but we knew we could do this better on our own.”
Their ‘band’ grew slowly — playing some songs they knew: hanging together and realizing they could play. As Gaynor explains, “for the first 4 or 5 months, we were just sort of figuring out that we could make sounds together. We’d play covers, but not the whole cover, just the riff. We’d play it like 4 or 5 times and say, ‘OK, we got it’.”
But the seed had been planted, and it grew. The boys began to write their own songs, and found an identity in their shared love of ’60s and ’70s rock. “For us it’s mostly drawing influences from our favourite musicians,” says Gaynor. “I think you can hear some blues progressions in there, some funk, some soul, some classic roots rock.”
Although, as Boyko adds, “we prefer to just call it rock and roll for simplicity, ’cause anything else it too pretentious.”
The shed, which began as a skating hut, is barely big enough to swing a guitar without hitting a wall. Freezing in winter, with acoustics that, according to the boys, vary from ‘not bad’ to ‘terrible’ it’s still a haven for practices that run until the wee hours, every weekend.
They started out as Traffic Jam, then went through a couple dozen name options before Gaynor blurted out The Lost Angelos. It stuck.
They’ve recorded a few songs, although, like most garage bands, they lack any proper recording tools. “Someday I’d love to get in the studio and really cut ’em, because I know they are good songs, we just don’t have the means of making them sound their full potential,” says Gaynor.
There are no dreams of stardom here. Soon, school will pull them in different directions. The hope is to get their name out there, through social media, and find a fan base that likes what they do.
To that end, they played their first bar gig at The Casbah in downtown Hamilton this summer. They took the stage in front of a handful of friends and family. Spotlights, applause, recognition.
The stuff rock dreams are made of.
Photos and story by Barry Gray