A Ponoka rock band is moving beyond the status of small town sensation after one of their music videos was showcased during a film festival in Seattle recently.
Bandolier, made up of brothers Mark and Ian Ferguson, and longtime friend Brett Halland, is now on the map internationally thanks to the video for their song Leviathan, a raspy rock number full of drums, bass and solid vocals reminiscent of the 1980s classic rock music with a tinge of heavy metal.
Filmed, edited and directed by the band’s youngest member, Ian — whose stage name is Johnny Handsome, thanks to a childhood tale of his show-stopping good looks — the video was selected for the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), held annually in Washington.
Ian, 17, travelled to Seattle for the screening on April 27 as part of the festival’s Musical Masterpiece day.
“It’s certainly a realm we want to expand into more,” said Ian of the international recognition. “People actually really enjoyed the song. They were impressed.”
Filmed largely in the Ferguson garage with black garbage bags on the walls, the video is the first one Ian said he’s shot that he’s fairly pleased with.
“It’s not amateur like as the other ones I did,” he said with a laugh. He played with different lighting techniques and a fog machine to create an authentic and edgy atmosphere. This was also the first video he edited with new software, Final Cut Pro.
The whole project took him well over a month and it was only at his father’s suggestion that he ended up submitting it to NFFTY. He said he never expected it to be selected.
Ian said if he wasn’t so passionate about drumming and the band, he would strive to make it in the film industry.
“It’s just a lot of fun directing.”
Leviathan is from Bandolier’s debut album that dropped last summer, titled Negative Space. Recorded at Alchemy Studios in Calgary, the album took three days to record and features 11 songs for a total of about 47 minutes.
“Our sound is a mix of classic and modern rock,” said Halland, 20.
“Beyond that, we also dive into other genres a little bit, like pop. Our song Make Me Pay is like a little dance number from the 1940s,” Mark, also 20, added.
Bandolier was established in 2009 when the boys started playing in the Fergusons’ basement shortly after Mark purchased his first electric guitar.
“Brett showed interest so we got him a bass and originally Ian was singing vocals but then we decided we needed a drummer so we put him behind a set and he turned out to be a monster at that,” Mark said.
The band all agree last summer was the defining season for them.
They won the highly competitive battle of the bands at Slumland Theatre in Red Deer, securing a spot in the lineup at the Boonstock music festival last June in Gibbons.
It was the largest audience they had ever performed in front of, tens of thousands of people roughly.
They were also the first band with a member under 18-years-old to perform in the festival’s nine-year history.
“It was the first time that we really felt official,” Halland said.
Mark is a second-year student at the University of Calgary, studying music. Halland just finished the architectural technology diploma program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton and Ian is wrapping up his high school career.
All three want to “100 per cent” continue with the band for the “rest of our lives.”
They will be performing on Canada Day in Ponoka and then plan to focus on writing, as well as gathering more film and recording equipment for the rest of the summer.
They say they would also like to expand their fan base deeper into the Calgary market and hope to release an EP (extended play, meaning a musical recording that contains more than a single but less than a full album) sometime in the near future.
For more information, visit www.bandoliermusic.com.