Singer-songwriter Sam Roberts and members of Sloan, Hollerado, Tokyo Police Club perform as part of the Anyway Gang all-star supergroup at Capital Ballroom in Victoria on May 18th.
IN CONCERT: Anyway Gang with Deanna Petcoff
Or: Capital Ballroom, 858 Yates Street
When: Wednesday, May 18, 9 p.m. (doors 8 p.m.)
Tickets: $46.61 (including taxes and fees) on admitone.com
Menno Versteeg took a lucid approach to Anyway Gang, the all-star assembly of Can-rock royalty crossing Canada for the first time this week.
“We want to set the bar as low as possible,” Versteeg, 42, laughed, “and trip over it when it suits you.”
The group is laid back out of necessity, as its four members each have their own schedule. Versteeg, the former frontman of Hollerado, is joined in the band by singer-songwriter Sam Roberts, Chris Murphy of Sloan and Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club, who have racked up 31 Juno nominations over their career. .
Despite their combined decades of experience, the members still haven’t sorted out their day-to-day operations. Roberts – the only Toronto-based one – will fly to Victoria from Montreal on Wednesday, just in time for a short rehearsal, Versteeg said. The group’s eight-date tour of Canada kicks off tonight at the Capital Ballroom [Wednesday]with Murphy, Roberts, Monks and Versteeg joined by guitarist Hollerado Nixon Boyd, keyboardist Anne Douris and drummer Adam Hindle for the performance.
Democracy is an integral part of the group, which has been operating since the end of 2019 around the busy schedule of each member; all four have children or other ongoing musical projects, Versteeg said. But while there are a lot of moving parts, operating as a unit isn’t something Versteeg would call complicated. “We’ve all been doing this long enough, and there’s enough respect there, and time under the belt, to know what matters and what doesn’t,” he said.
Versteeg was the linchpin behind the band’s formation. Although the members knew each other casually or socially, he ended up putting the pieces together. After engaging in a succession of conversations with each member individually, he broached the idea of forming a side project as a freely constructed collective.
To his surprise, they all agreed to participate – with just one rule. “We do this for fun so much that there are no deadlines and no pressure. If something doesn’t happen, fine. If a person doesn’t show up, fine. We are really and truly doing this for something different, a change of scenery.
An eight-concert tour is short enough to keep the focus on fun, but long enough to cause problems if the personalities clash. Vertseeg said he considered the idea (“We all know each other, but none of us have spent a lot of time together on the road, so we don’t yet know enough about each other’s idiosyncrasies to want to murder”) but he expects everything to be balanced.
“Pure ease and pleasure” is how he describes the atmosphere of the group on the eve of their first cross-Canada tour. “We just want to sing and strum chords.”