Four former classmates take on a Canadian treasure
Luka Vasic // Contributor
Photo c/o Gillian Weber-Leedham
While Vancouver has seen its fair share of cover bands, very few have been so daring to take on the music of Canadian rock legends Rush. “I wanted to have a tribute band that would have fun music to play, be a good challenge, [and be] popular enough that we could have success selling it,” said Eliot Doyle, drummer and founder of the Modern-Day Warriors: A Tribute to Rush.
Doyle and fellow bandmates Tahnee Juryn (vocals and keyboard), Karl Wallace- Deering (bass) and Bradan DeCicco (guitar), formed the Modern-Day Warriors after building strong musical relationships during their time together in Capilano University’s Jazz Studies program.
“Tahnee was the first one I asked, because I knew Bradan would do it anyways,” said Doyle, who had been jamming Rush songs with Wallace-Deering since their high- school days. “I don’t think any of us fully understood how much Bradan loved Rush until we started playing,” added Juryn. “He had posters in his house and we were like ‘did you put those up for the rehearsal?’ and he said, ‘No they’re just there.’ It was just his décor!”
For DeCicco, Rush was what got him going in music. “It was how I would play guitar before coming to Cap,” he said, “I would have a playlist of all the Rush tunes I knew and play along to it.” Though a huge lover of Canadian music overall, Juryn joined the band as the newest fan. “I would say I came into this band probably the least of a Rush fan but that very quickly escalated. I spent the first summer kind of discovering the songs in a way,” she admitted, “[I’d say] ‘guys this song is amazing!’ and they would be like ‘yeah, we know’.”
Rush is considered one of the more virtuosic bands in rock and roll history. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart’s proficiency on their individual instruments has presented a challenge for the Modern-Day Warriors that their education has helped prepare them for.
“The courses in the Jazz Program really forced us how to learn how to learn songs in a timely manner,” said Wallace-Deering. “Developing our ear training skills and those sorts of things made it so much easier to absorb, learn and reproduce the band’s material.”
While the technical level of musicianship has both challenged and pushed the cover band, their greatest challenge is reproducing Rush’s sound. “[It’s about] finding the balance between how much do I nail this really high nasally part or the way [Geddy] delivers this word in a strange way, and how much do I bring my own voice into it and where is the fine line,” said Juryn, who as a vocalist does not have the luxury of electronic effects like DeCicco’s computer-based guitar rig.
Ultimately, the band stays as true to the music as possible. “Your own personal touch is always going to come out no matter what,” said Doyle, “but it’s your own personal touch featured on somebody else’s thing that you’re trying to play.”
The cover bands attention to detail has earned them an “overwhelmingly positive” response from fans. Rush fans are known to be very passionate, and the Modern-Day Warriors have experienced this firsthand. “We’ve got people from over the world, from Brazil, all over the United States [commenting] on YouTube,” said Wallace- Deering. “When we played in Nanaimo, we had a group of 16 and 17-year-old kids that came out to see us, but we were playing in a casino, so they couldn’t,” DeCicco recalled, “So they sat outside the window in the doorway and listened.”
The band usually tries to book gigs with other local tribute bands who play similar styles, which finds itself to be a difficult task in Vancouver’s competitive music scene. “I don’t know how well we would be received with an ABBA tribute,” Juryn joked. Their current goal is to continue to grow their brand by expanding their online presence, through videos and live streams.
Like the real Rush, the Modern-Day Warriors chemistry can be linked to their relationships beyond the lighted stage. “I love the music and playing with these guys is a blast,” said Doyle. Touring has been a highlight for them. “It didn’t feel like work, it was a paid vacation with our friends, life doesn’t get much better,” added Wallace-Deering.
The Modern-Day Warriors will be playing Rush’s 2112 front-to-back at the Roxy Cabaret on Dec. 21. For further details and show information, visit Themoderndaywarriors.com.