Victoria’s music scene has a plethora of punk bands, most of whom would agree that the music community they play in and for is the most important thing to prop up within the scene.
Two of these bands have formed a special bond over their music and found kindred spirits in one another. They have been using their friendship to help each other elevate each other’s music and to play more diverse and unique shows.
JoyBoy and ex-cowboy have now played numerous shows together, many with the now defunct Saltwater Cowboy on the bill as well. Along with another local outfit, Hillsboro, the four bands recently played Capital Ballroom to a nearly sold out crowd of supporters who have since been avid supporters — a difficult thing to do for an all-local bands show.
The Capital Ballroom show was Saltwater Cowboy’s last and it acted as their album release show as well. At the same show, ex-cowboy and JoyBoy released a four-song split EP on cassette called ‘Friendship Split’.
The three surviving bands of the April 20th Capital Ballroom show are now playing together once again on June 2nd at a vintage clothing store owned by a mutual friend called Second Degree Vintage.
The room is small and capacity has been set at 80 for this show, a number that both bands are confident will sell out prior to Friday night.
JoyBoy is a project which was started by frontman Alex Tremblay just before the onset of the pandemic in Montreal and was largely a solo project in its genesis. Only recently did he add band members and start playing shows with a full band when he moved here to Victoria.
“It’s been a project I’ve just been doing myself for the last four years and solidified it here a year and a half ago,” Tremblay told Victoria Buzz.
“Maybe just the last year it has been like, an actual band as opposed to just jams.”
Tremblay spent the pandemic writing and doing home recordings by himself with the odd show here and there with a one-off band when restrictions were light. Then he met ex-cowboy’s Colin McParland playing a solo show at the same vintage shop the two bands are going to be playing at once more this Friday.
“My friend was selling clothes on Facebook Marketplace and built up enough speed that him and his friend started renting out a store and built up that space to what it is now,” Tremblay said. “It’s essentially just a pal who is letting us be creative in his space.”
This is the second show that JoyBoy and ex-cowboy have played at the Johnson Street vintage store, the first being the time McParland and Tremblay met, so the JoyBoy singer calls this show a “full circle moment.”
Tremblay met the guys in Hillsboro at the Capital Ballroom show for Saltwater Cowboy’s finale performance and he says it opened lots of doors for himself and the other bands billed that evening.
“I can’t believe that happened,” Tremblay exclaimed. “[Saltwater Cowboy is] the best band in Victoria, write that down.”
Since that Capital Ballroom show, Tremblay has joined forces as drummer and singer of a new project with former members of Saltwater Cowboy called Bong Witch.
ex-cowboy has been playing shows in Victoria for just over a year now and have made themselves well-known in that time as champions of the DIY punk scene as well as accomplished performers.
McParland and his bandmates came together after playing with each other in a handful of other projects, but eventually the timing was right and they were all able to band together to pour themselves into this new project.
“I kinda had these three guys on my radar that I knew from different places, and I thought, ‘wow, this is going to be the dream team,’” McParland told Victoria Buzz.
Some of McParland’s band mates were out of town when he was approached by Tremblay to play the first show at Second Degree Vintage, so he played the show solo and gained an ally in the DIY punk scene in JoyBoy. From that point on the two bands would gladly put on shows together and share several stages across town.
Now with this Friday’s show approaching fast and selling out just as quickly, McParland is just as happy to celebrate the two bands’ full circle moment as Tremblay is.
In addition to playing the show at Second Degree Vintage this Friday and releasing the Friendship Split with JoyBoy, ex-cowboy will be releasing a full length album in August on Easy Freaker Records based out of Vancouver.
The Friendship Split
Together, JoyBoy and ex-cowboy recorded their Friendship Split in just one day at a studio space in the Ska and Reggae Society Headquarters in Rock Bay with the company of a pillar of the music scene and radio host of Hot Local Singles in Your Playlist on CFUV, Koby Andrews.
McParland and Tremblay got to talking one day and decided they wanted to collaborate on a split EP to solidify their friendship and to have a chance for both bands to put some new music out.
“Basically we loaded all our gear there and [Dan Froese of ex-cowboy] is really, really good at recording, I’m, like, okay and we just recorded it all ourselves,” Tremblay said.
“It was super DIY, I made all the tapes for it at my apartment.”
For the album artwork, a mutual friend designed the cassette cover with four pictures, each of which is meant to represent a song on the EP.
The first two songs, Drone it over and Loud start are JoyBoy songs and the latter two, Caught Dead and Dirty old man are ex-cowboy’s. Dirty old man is a cover of Neil Young’s classic by the same name.
“On the way to the studio that day, we were like, we need a second song,” McParland said. “I had been listening to the year 2000’s Junos soundtrack, I don’t know why, probably as a meme” he laughed.
“Neil Young did the theme for a category and it was just a dinky little jam in [the key of] A, it was just a short little throwaway, late Neil Young song. I was listening to that as a joke and I just said, ‘we should cover this, it’s so funny and short,’ and we said, yeah let’s do it.”
Friendship EP is available on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music and the bands will be selling physical copies in the form of cassettes at their June 2nd show at Second Degree Vintage.
Anyone who misses the boat on getting a ticket to the small Second Degree Vintage show will have another chance to see Hillsboro, ex-cowboy and Tremblay’s new stoner-rock project, Bong Witch on June 10th that will be a fundraiser for Ukrainian refugee relief.
- Where: Second Degree Vintage, 651 Johnson Street
- When: Friday, June 2nd, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.