Though Toronto-based quartet Hollerado has been living in The Big Smoke for a few years now, their foray into music began right here in Ottawa. The band members —Menno Versteeg on vocals and guitar, Nixon Boyd on guitar, Dean Baxter on bass, and Jake Boyd on drums — grew up on the same street in Manotick, a small suburb in the south end of Ottawa. Before becoming the infectiously catchy power-pop group Hollerado, though, they were the not-so-glamourous Haulerado, a moving company that operated out of an old van. In 2009, having been a band for just two years, they won Live 88.5’s Big Money Shot, a local battle-of-the-bands competition with a cash prize of $250,000. With their bank accounts comfortably padded, the guys set out to conquer the Canadian music scene — and they haven’t looked back since.
Hollerado’s Menno Versteeg chats with WHERE Ottawa’s Erica Eades about growing up in Ottawa, the band’s favourite local venues, and their upcoming tour with Tokyo Police Club — which stops off in Wakefield at the Black Sheep Inn on Dec. 13, and in Ottawa at Ritual Nightclub on Dec. 14.
What was it like growing up in Manotick?
Well, back then there was no bus linking Ottawa to Manotick. There was nothing for us to do! Sometimes we could cause trouble; other times we’d play guitar.
When did you start making music together?
We always just kind of jammed. Growing up on the same street, it was something that happened all the time. We didn’t really decide to be a band until 2007, though.
Where did you perform when you started playing gigs around Ottawa?
We would play anywhere that would have us. You don’t really get to be too choosy when you’re starting out as a band. We booked a lot of gigs just by showing up and asking to play. We ended up at a lot of house parties, and at community events and parks.
What were some of your favourite local music venues growing up?
They used to have shows at the Legion in Manotick, but it eventually got shut down. With all-ages venues like that, people don’t really care about going to see bands and being part of it; they just go because that’s what’s happening on a Friday night in Manotick. But if I could convince my parents to drive me into Ottawa, I would see shows at SAW Gallery. And there used to be a place called Liquid Monkey that had all ages shows.
Do you remember the first concert you ever saw in Ottawa?
Oh, totally. One of the first shows I saw was a band called Punchbuggy. But the first big concert I ever went to (I think it was the summer after grade six) was Another Roadside Attraction at Landsdowne Park. It was The Tragically Hip, Midnight Oil, and April Wine.
What are your go-to spots when you’re back in Ottawa?
Going for a drink at The Dominion Tavern is often on the schedule if we’re going to see old friends. In Manotick there’s a place called Hard Stones – it’s the one pub in town. My wife is from Ottawa also, and we like to go to the chip truck at Bank and Sunnyside [M&G’s Chip Wagon] to get poutine.
When you play Ottawa this week you’ll be opening for fellow Canadians Tokyo Police Club. How did this come about?
They’re just buddies of ours. They live around the corner, and we always have barbecues at each other’s houses and hang out. It made sense that when it came time to play some shows we play together.
What else should people know about Hollerado?
We have a new record coming out on February 26 called White Paint. We haven’t put out an album in four years, so I’m really excited to get it out and show everyone what we’ve been doing since then.