Music is the end in and of itself...
How often do you hear this concept today? Chances are, rarely. The fact is, the truly iconic, the truly special bands are those select few who are not afraid to make sonics, melodies, and unique sounds their utmost priority. And it is no small coincidence that the bands we remember are the ones who do not fear swimming upstream in the process.
If you ask Kelowna, British Columbiaâ€™s Secret and Whisper, they will not tell you they are icons. They will not tell you they are in their own elite category either. But what they will tell you is what motivates them: not hair, jeans, girls, belts, lifestyle, or sales. But making unique music that they love, for no other reason than the music itself.
A rare quality in an industry swarming with regurgitation.
â€œWhen we started this band we did not have any notions as to how we wanted it to sound,â€ states drummer Ryan Loerke. â€œWe just had good friendships, and a fire to write music that satisfied us. The band just wrote the songs that sounded right to us, as if we were music listeners. We didnâ€™t write 30 or 40 songs for our first record, then pick the best ones. The 12 songs that were written, made the record because we never finish a song until we are satisfied with it; we didnâ€™t want any second guessing involved later. You always here stories of bands saying that they felt like their album didnâ€™t turn out quite as they had planned, or that itâ€™s missing something they intended to be there, but we are happy to say everything came together in the end. And being our own worst critics, itâ€™s a good feeling.â€
And you can hear this mentality in the first notes of their debut LP Great White Whale. Individualistic, yet somehow familiar. A sound that is painstakingly accurate in its defiance of classification. Haunting, Epic, and fast-paced with consistent, larger-than-life melody. It is as hungry as it is heavy, but it is definitely not screamo, metalcore, or active rock in the least. Each track is intricate in composition, yet not distractingly so. The result sounds as if it was made by seasoned artists who have not lost their hearts throughout their many seasons.
â€œWe nearly gave up on playing just before we got together as the band we are today,â€ comments Loerke. â€œThough we were all a part of moderately successful major label bands, we somehow felt empty throughout that process. There were so many hoops to jump through and so few genuine relationships with those around us. And it was all just to try to sell millions of records. There is more to life than that. I think the biggest lesson we learned is that if we donâ€™t love our music, one another, the people we work with, our fans...if there isnâ€™t a sincerity and depth to all of it, than itâ€™s all meaningless.â€
The songs themselves will attach themselves to you quickly, and this immediacy is something you will not easily find in a band that also preaches (lives by) depth. Consider â€œXOXOXO,â€ the first â€œsingle.â€ It is contemporary and accessible, but those are not the songâ€™s defining traits. A waxing, waning, wailing melody from vocalist Charles Furney carries the metallic riffage beyond passion to connection. Itâ€™s not screaming, and yet not just singing. It is crying out with notes. Focal tracks such as â€œThe Actressâ€ and â€œYou Are Familiarâ€ follow suit, and will undoubtedly cut and carve space in the post-screamo soundscape redefining (rather than adhering to) the formula for commercial brutality.
Imagery is the vehicle of Furneyâ€™s lyrical relationship with the listener. While many simply communicate an idea or an emotion with attempts at clever anecdotes, he has realized that a picture is truly worth a thousand words. On the aforementioned first single (XOXOXO), he muses, Sheâ€™s drawing xâ€™s and oâ€™s into her pantyhose. On â€œVanishingsâ€ he comments on his previous major label existence, versus his new motivations: I say never again to friends, and fads, and fitting in; a phantom walks to the sea, fades and secretly drowns until his heartâ€™s appeased. And finally, on â€œThe Actressâ€ he draws a powerful connection between an idol on a movie screen and our imaginations: We see the actress defy the dangerous. Our stomach in knots, the edge of our seats as we watch. The regular showing has just begun; please tend to your seating as everyone is slowly quieting. When itâ€™s all over we will talk and return to our cars. Just for one night, you are my only. You can expect faithful, insightful, honest words white Great White Whale, which will undoubtedly appeal to those in isolated scenarios, needing a word or a note or a picture conveying that all is not lost.
â€œGreat White Whale is very personal to me. Similar to the idea of Moby Dick, the theme is loneliness. I tried to relate my personal situation of what I was going through to a story of metaphor and imagery. People already think itâ€™s a concept album intentionally, but it was not meant to be so. I was just writing what I knew and what I was going through. Conceptually speaking, this is an album grieving and coming to a new, better place through the desperation and loneliness of it.â€
As a second chance can breathe life into cold hearts, so has the second journey into pop culture breathed motivation into Secret and Whisper. They recently completed their first U.S. tour with Tooth and Nail stalwarts Far-Less, and many more tours are to follow, according to the band. Rather than sold-out stadiums, the goal is to build an ongoing, evolving fellowship with the audience. Genuine connections, a genuine following, and longevity. And if success follows, it will come on their own terms--not a contrived success, but an earned one. Wise philosophies from a band with all the pieces in place to do something powerful in the lives of those in their path.
â€œThe strange irony of finding peace in the music industry is that you have to do the opposite of the formula, even though everyone is telling you to fit into it. Only by simultaneously defying the safe advice, the advice of the industry to do what is expected, can you really become successful in music. We have decided that if we arenâ€™t satisfied in the music alone we wonâ€™t be satisfied with anything else. Plus, the memorable bands are the ones who chart their own course...these are the ones that are the few, the special.â€