project34 – The Story So Far…

project34 - Isabelle, Carlo, Chris, and Kamal
Clockwise from top left: Isabelle Longtin (vocals), Carlo Stonebanks (bass), Chris Nissen (guitar), Kamal Panesar (drums).

Once upon a time there were three friends — Chris, Carlo, and Kamal — who worked together for an industrial distribution company. One day, those three friends discovered that each other played instruments. Fortune would have it that the drummer (Kamal) needed a place to put his drum kit and so that, and the idea of playing music together, inspired the three friends to move said drum kit into their office (yes, they really did that).

The three friends started off playing simple music for fun…trying to figure out how to play together, while also looking for tunes that were interesting and challenging.

The first song they chose was a pretty straight-forward song by the Stone Temple Pilots, called Sex Type Thing.

After playing around with that song for a few sessions they added Suck My Kiss, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. As the got more and more used to playing together, they added a whole bunch of songs and bands ranging from Rush, and Tool, to Faith No More, and Alice in Chains.

One day, the guys moved all of their equipment from the office to the massive, and at that point, empty warehouse out back. This inspired them to toy with the idea of actually playing live one day. The guys played together, on and off, for close to five years before Kamal had kids, and basically had to fuck off for a year or so.

In the interim, Carlo and Chris continued to pursue the goal of playing live, recruiting a lead guitarist and a drummer. They came close to, but ultimately fell short of, their mark. And, for myriad reasons that tend to pop up when trying to keep a band together — family, kids, work, availability, commitment levels, skill levels, the ability to get along…need I go on? — they all went their separate ways.

It was around that time that Kamal resurfaced, after having “helped a friend out” by playing drums in a live show for his 50th birthday party. It was music that was not exactly up Kamal’s alley but, the experience of playing live again lit a fire under him.

Chris, Carlo, and Kamal reconvened in December of 2015 to discuss Kamal’s live performance experience and, more importantly, a mutual desire to play together again and, moreover, to put together a project that would actual see them playing live on a semi-regular basis.

It was at this meeting that the guys discussed what theme they wanted…and it was agreed that, given time constraints, covering music would be more realistic than strictly writing originals. And the guys saw a hole in a market for a band playing “modern” classic rock.

What’s modern classic rock? Well, in short, it’s 90s alternative rock. It’s 2000s alternative rock. It’s modern alt-rock.  Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Tool…etc.

Being older dudes with careers, families, kids, wives, etc, none of the three had delusions of being rock stars and touring around the world…but the passion and joy of “playing live again” was something that united them. And so they went to work in January 2016, playing weekly, brushing up on their setlist, relearning songs they had been playing together for 7-plus years…all the while posting ads for a lead guitarist, and a singer.

project34_art_01_largeAt the outset, the guys had said whimsically something to the effect of “wouldn’t it be amazing if we could play this heavy music and have a female singer singing?”

This wasn’t necessarily something they thought they’d achieve.  And months of posting ads and having terrible auditions seemed to show that, indeed, they would not be able to  find that singer.

Through many extremely disappointing auditions of both guitarists and singers — and I’ll let Chris post about some of the insane experiences we had on that level — the guys finally, and despite all apparent odds, found Isabelle…

…Isabelle who at 18, had never sung with musicians. Ever. Anywhere. Oh, and she had also never taken a singing lesson.

The guys were hopeful but cautious with gusts up to extremely skeptical. But when Isabelle showed up for the audition, she not only knew the songs, but she could sing the shit out of them.

Chris, Carlo, and Kamal were blown away at her natural talent, and were unanimous in asking her to join the band…which she did.

That was about two and a half months ago…around August 2016. Since then, Isabelle has worked her ass off to get up to speed with the band’s setlist, all while learning how to perform with other musicians, sing songs she had never heard in her life, and start to develop her presence as a front person for the band.

Oh, and she’s also a full time communications student.

Sounds easy enough, eh?

Well, she did it. They did. We all did. And, approximately three months later, armed with the name ‘project34’ — another blog post for another day to explain how THAT happened — the four bandmates hit the stage for an open jam night at The Pioneer, in Pointe Claire, on November 9, 2016.

And we had a blast!  A short set that let us just get on stage and try out what we’ve been practicing for months.

Below are the four songs we played live at the Pioneer…which really is the culmination of the last year.

This is the first of hopefully many shows for the band, who have now started networking and talking to venue owners about playing more shows — if you have any ideas or referrals let us know! — and hopefully, with sets closer to 45 minutes.

The quality of the video isn’t the greatest — our first experience going Live on Facebook — but the sound quality is pretty good. Check it out, enjoy, like our Facebook page, tell people about us, and make sure to come see us live!

Sex Type Thing – Stone Temple Pilots
Man in the Box – Alice in Chains
Suck My Kiss – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sober – Tool

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