Listen Up Kid guitarist and lead singer Dennis Clark is visibly excited to be making music again. After taking a year off, the local alternative rock band has been hitting the Kingston club circuit again as they build up to a feature set at September’s Sandbanks Music Festival, where they’ll be opening for Wintersleep.
It was an injury that kept Clark away from music for so long. He can’t quite say that the injury was from playing music, but it was close.
“It was a rock n roll lifestyle injury,” he says coyly. “It didn’t happen on stage. I had a herniated disc. I was on a waiting list for a year, and I finally had the surgery last January”
Listen Up Kid, in its original five-piece lineup, had been playing around Kingston and touring Ontario quite heavily for a couple of years leading up to Clark’s injury. During that time, three original members left town or moved on, all quite amicably, to other ventures.
New to the band this year, in addition to original lead guitarist Charles Thomas, is bassist Justin Kennedy and drummer Thomas Littler. Kennedy was recruited by Thomas after they met at a job site where Thomas was working as a plumber. Being the new guy in an established band came with some trepidation.
“It was a little bit daunting at first,” says Kennedy. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in a band. Den (Clark) has been really accommodating, but in our first practices there was a lot of repeating short sections of songs over and over again until we got it right.”
The two new members weren’t brought in initially as friends, but rather has hired musicians expected to fit in.
“I’m relieved to hear that,” says Clark in reaction to Kennedy’s endorsement. “I feel like I was pretty hard on them at first. I was really stressed out about changing the band around again. After being off for a year, I had a lot of self-doubt and a lack of confidence.”
Now, the four-piece is gelling well as a band and as friends.
“I don’t drink as much around Thomas (Littler),” says (Charles) Thomas with a laugh. “He’s a little more straightedge than us. He’s quite the player, too.”
Part of the rebuilding process is a series of smaller shows leading up to sharing the stage with Wintersleep and Julie Doiron in Prince Edward County this September. They’ve recently played The Mansion and The Ale House, and tonight they headline at The Toucan.
“The Toucan is a place where you can really develop your chops,” says Clark. “It’s got a built-in crowd. There’s a lot of history there.”
Tonight’s show starts at 10 p.m., and there’s no cover.
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