Monday, February 11, 2019

Defunct Local Band Profile Series: The Small Town Rivals

After a slight delay, it's now time for this month's Defunct Local Band Profile, as part of our ongoing monthly feature series spotlighting inactive local bands (linked on the SMS) who may not be a functioning project anymore, but deserve a spotlight with current readers. This month's completely random selection features a few familiar faces for fans of modern punk rock locally, so here's what you should know on them!
The Small Town Rivals

Genre: Pop Punk/Alternative

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario/Whistler, British Columbia (the band later listed Toronto, Ontario in lieu of Whistler as a "current location")

Members: (Members not in their last full lineups in italics. Note that the band featured different live lineups depending on where the band was playing, a'la iT in the late 2000s, with Wayne and/or Jesse joined by bandmates local to their respective hometowns. Bassists and drummers who performed exclusively with the local version of The Small Town Rivals are appropriately credited.)

Wayne Watkins (Northwest, Nebraska Arms), vocals/guitar
Jesse Nelson, guitar
Mike Smykacz (Northwest), local bass
Scott Phillips, bass
Clint Wilson (Bankshot, Northwest, Late Shift), local drums
Liam Murray, drums

Dave Prendergast (Nebraska Arms, Gilmour), local bass
Marc Santos (Northwest, A Fall From Innocence), local drums

Audio/Video: The Small Town Rivals' non-local lineup released one EP to their Bandcamp page on November 9th, 2012, entitled "East vs. West", which is available on a "name your price" model. Video-wise, there's not a lot from this band (there's honestly more of two otherwise unrelated bands of the same name), but at least two videos exist publically, including a solo unplugged "late night stir fry edition" of their unreleased original "Algoma Steel", and as featured here, this studio preview clip from the EP sessions, as set to their song "Heartbreaks & Fairytales"!

Info/Analysis: Formed as a studio project between long-time friends Wayne Watkins and Jesse Nelson in 2010, The Small Town Rivals evolved into a formal live band by the following year after Jesse moved out east, debuting with shows locally (at the original Coch's Corner) and in North Bay in June 2011. Updates were minimal until the band's new lineup began writing for their "East vs. West" EP in 2012. After it's release, the band entered the CBC Searchlight contest in 2013, and returned for a few live concerts that May, opening for The Brains & The Penske File locally & playing at the annual Pouzza Fest in Montreal, while Wayne previously played an S.T.R.-branded acoustic show at Coch's Corner that March. After entering a Hockey Night In Canada song contest that fall, The Small Town Rivals quietly fell inactive and were effectively succeeded by Wayne's new fully local indie/punk band Northwest, which has since featured all but one of the local Rivals in their past or present lineups.

If you're familiar with Wayne, Mike, and Clint/Marc's work with Northwest, you'll be right at home with The Small Town Rivals, whose upbeat punk rock sound, Perry Farrell-esque vocals, and indie sensibility all translated to the later band. The guitar attack isn't as full, and the genre variations aren't as noticeable in studio material, but The Rivals had a strong chemistry and nice recording quality on songs like "Old Hollywood" & "Grave Digger", and they are definitely worth a listen for fans of Northwest and members' related projects! Hopefully Wayne & Jesse pick things up again!
I hope you guys liked this month's Defunct Local Band Profile! Next month in this series, we'll head back to Sault Michigan to close another 2-1-3-1-2-1 cycle between the Twin Saults, and our latest random selection has given us 2001-2008 Cedarville hard rock quartet Oddfellow! Look for that on or around March 10th, and stay tuned for more this week! Thanks everyone!

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