‘What does your band play?’

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Rye n’ the Vats stumbles together after meeting at jam nights

Jonathan Petrychyn
A&C Editor

Rye n’ the Vats
O’Hanlon’s
March 17

Like any great band, Rye n’ the Vats got their start drunk at a jam night.

“Judd and I and Riley all used to go to the same jam night on Tuesday night at Bocado’s. I went up to Riley one night and poked him on the back and said, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ and he told me, and I said ‘Good, we’re starting a band. Meet at my house tomorrow and bring a bass player,’” said Greg “Junior” Osmond, the band’s percussionist and one of their vocalists.

“I had some drinks,” he added.

And true to form, the seven-piece Rye n’ the Vats – comprised of Judd Stachoski, Greg “Junior” Osmond, Alex Wilson, Holly Grewald, Charity Putman, Riley “Rye” Noble, and Graeme McLoed – stumbled into the interview Sunday afternoon hungover from the night previous, extra large coffees in hand, surprised they managed to get the entire band together for an interview.

This was, after all, the first time they had all been together since their show in Gravelbourg at the end of February.

But these are the difficulties of getting a band together that met almost solely at Regina jam nights, coming together slowly since their origins as a three-piece blues band in 2010.

“We were originally kind of geared towards a blues project, just a three-piece blues project and it quickly became more roots and country and folk,” Osmond said. “And then all these other fabulous people started showing up.”

And “showing up” isn’t too far from the truth. Most of the band’s members came to the band by being told at Regina jam nights that they were joining the band.

“Sometimes you just wake up on the couch with an instrument and [it’s like] ‘I guess I’m in a band,’” Osmond joked.

It’s difficult for a band of seven people to all get together to play a show and so, as a result, they’ve either had to adopt their shows – if a band member can’t make it to a show, they just don’t play the songs they need their instrument on – or they pick someone out of the audience and get them to play along.

This is how banjo and accordian player Judd Stachoski joined the band. He said he “hopped on stage” at a performance at McNally’s when bass player Graeme McLeod wasn’t able to come to the show.

“My first show I didn’t know any of the songs. I just asked Riley the key and I just plucked the banjo to it,” Stachoski said.

“The poking on the back method [Junior] got Riley with was pretty much the same method he got all of us with,” added Charity Putman, the band’s tuba player.

As a result, you have seven people with seven very different musical backgrounds, which makes for a band with a sound that’s difficult, if not impossible to pinpoint.

“That’s the thing I hate being asked,” said lead guitarist Alex Wilson. “What does your band play?”

And while band members would put forward their own take on what their music is, whether it be blues-jazz, bluegrass, or reggae, Wilson feels this isn’t totally accurate.

“Every time one word is mentioned, I feel like it leaves out a whole section of our sound,” he said.

“I think that’s one of our strengths, though, is that people don’t know how to peg us to one particular sound. So it keeps people wanting to listen to it more and figure it out when we can’t even figure it out,” Putman added.

“We could put on some matching clothes and learn some dance steps and have a regular variety show,” Osmond joked.

The band’s first six-song EP, My Dogs are Barking, is due to come out sometime later this month.

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