Some like it loud

Carole Morris-Underhill
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Rockers earn East Coast Music Award

The Fed Pennies are feeling a little richer these days after winning their first East Coast Music Award.

The award, for Loud Recording of the Year, was presented to the band April 16.

Vocalist and lead guitarist Jake Smith, who teaches guitar lessons at Moe's Place Music Sales, and bassist John Matthews both hail from Hants County. The drummer, Paul Gallant, calls Sackville home.

Smith, originally from Centre Burlington, said earning the award for their CD Brain Disaster came as a surprise.

“It was really cool,” Smith said. “I think we all just (were) kind of prepared to not hear our name... so it was definitely a surprise.”

The band was up against five other loud artists: Last Call Chernobyl, Obsydian, Orchid's Curse, Soul Seeker, and Tempting Tragedy.

The Fed Pennies spent the better part of the month prior to the awards touring with the bands in the loud category.

Smith said they were the lightest of the loud bands on the tour, but said that didn't stop anyone from hanging out.

“We all got along and we never even really talked about the award or the nomination with any of the other bands. It was all just about the music,” said Smith.

The loud category was added to the ECMAs a number of years ago. Smith said it's nice to see a variety of musical genres are being recognized and celebrated.

“Music in the Maritimes is relatively safe. It's user friendly. Even the rock stuff — as much as I love some of the rock bands — it's not really an aggressive sound. It's more of a poppy rock kind of sound,” said Smith. “I would never knock that at all but it's just cool that the industry also recognizes that there is a heavier-based sound in the Maritimes too.”

When the Fed Pennies won their award, Smith said their peers seemed genuinely happy.

“We've been getting a lot of emails and a lot of Facebook messages,” said Smith. “Everybody's really happy, really pumped for the win.”

The Fed Pennies have been working hard for a number of years perfecting their sound and growing a stable fan base.

“We started writing in 2004 and released our first CD in 2005. We've been going since then and we've had a lot of really cool things happen along the way.”

In the past five years, the Fed Pennies were part of a Canadian Music Week showcase, they've had songs played on regular rotation on a few radio stations, with Halifax-based Q 104 a big supporter, and, in 2008, they won a contest to open for Ozzy Osbourne at the Metro Centre. Smith cites that experience, along with the recent award, as his top highlights to date.

Music in the Maritimes is relatively safe. It's user friendly. Even the rock stuff — as much as I love some of the rock bands — it's not really an aggressive sound. Jake Smith

The Fed Pennies also had one of their songs featured in a Sega video game for the 2010 Winter Olympics.


On the road again

Hot on the heels of their recent win, the Fed Pennies are getting ready to head back to the recording studio.

“We're actually just focusing on writing new material right now,” said Smith.

They've already been in the studio doing pre-production. Smith said they were hoping to work on a new song and hopefully release a new single soon.

The summer is already shaping up to be a busy one for the group, as more bookings come in for gigs throughout the province — and beyond.

“Summer's always fun,” said Smith. “It's always good to get out and play.”

The Fed Pennies will be performing at a house party, known as the Schoolhouse Jam in Falmouth on May 14. They will be back in town June 3 to participate in a benefit concert in conjunction with the Hants West Relay for Life. On June 18, they will be performing at the Amherst Independent Music Festival.

They will be back in town again July 8 – but this time for an acoustic waterfront performance. Smith said they were invited to participate in the Friday Night Concert Series.

“We're really stoked about (the show) because it's going to be an acoustic show,” said Smith. “And we're actually having a couple friends of ours come in to do percussion and stand-up bowed bass, which is really something we've never done before.”

They also plan to take a road trip, likely this September, to Quebec and Ontario.

Smith said their sound is more of a “dirty rock and roll” with a fuzzed-out guitar sound.

“I think our music comes from that side of rock and roll,” said Smith. “(I've) always gravitated towards more of a darker rock sound. Nothing against pop, but I just don't normally go there to listen to music — I like music that is just a little more avant-garde or has a little bit of an edge to it.”

Tunes by the Fed Pennies are available on iTunes, and CDs are available at HMV in Halifax at Mic Mac Mall.

As with most musicians before they hit the big time, Smith says fans can also buy CDs directly from the band.

“If you see me on the street, you can buy them out of the trunk of my car if you want,” he said with a laugh.


Organizations: Metro Centre, Hants West Relay for Life, Concert Series HMV

Geographic location: Hants County, Sackville, Falmouth Quebec Ontario Halifax

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