Updated: May 11
by Melanie Macpherson
Shred Kelly, an alternative folk rock band from Fernie, British Columbia, are coming to Saskatoon May 5 to help kick off the Capitol Music Club’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Shred Kelly’s Sage McBride. She opened up about her music, her life and what it's like to be an up and coming indie band in Canada’s ever changing music scene.
I started out asking her to describe Shred Kelly for the uninitiated. “It's pretty high energy, but drawing elements from alternative rock genres, and also we have some folk instrumentation… we have a banjo… everything else is kind of like regular, standard rock and roll. ” And as for what to expect at a live show she says “Lots of dancing. We tend to be pretty high energy and like to get people jumping in and singing along, so I guess expect to have a lot of fun”.
Photos by Aaron Brown Photography
I asked what one song would be the best representation for someone who wants to dip their toe in the Shred Kelly waters. “We’re very eclectic. So we have both female and male lead vocals. A lot of the songs sound pretty different from one another so it's hard to choose just one. I guess the song “Take Me Home” from our most recent record (Like a Rising Sun) is kind of an upbeat, high energy tune that we're both singing on together. I guess that would be a good indication of our sound.”
We talked about how she came to be part of a folk rock band conquering ski country. “I moved to Fernie right after high school, so I’d been here for a number of years. I was working at a bar that hosted the local jam night there, and Tim, who is now my husband, he was the host of the jam nights so we got to know each other through that … he originally had written songs for bands that he was just starting and asked if I wanted to come and sing backup on a few of the songs and then the band kind of grew from there… and now it's been going for I guess 12 years”.
When asked how the pandemic has affected live shows, she responded, “Mostly we haven't really played a lot of indoor shows. A lot of what we've been doing has been outdoors and music festivals or we were trying to make shows happen even in 2020 and 2021 by doing tiny concert series in parks that we could find. We were able to paint circles on the ground and do social distancing. After that, it’s mostly just music festivals, and then in Canada, a few indoor bar shows. We did go to Europe and do an indoor opening tour, and that just felt like everything was sort of back to normal. Then we played an indoor Music Festival on Vancouver Island a few weeks ago called “Song and Surf” and that felt really good to have a nice, awesome, fun dance floor. We haven't returned to a lot of usual places that we've played before, so hopefully it's still similar when we go back, but the shows that we're doing outdoors have been quite a bit of fun. A lot of them were trying to make things happen anyway that we could.”
We spent quite a while discussing the challenges of being a touring musician in Canada at any time, “I think the independent music scene is just, especially in Canada, a challenging industry to be in because of the distances between places that you have to travel… just trying to get from place to place and keep it cost effective.” And then, of course, there’s winter, “We used to tour lots in the winter and now we've kind of decided that we're not really keen on it anymore… When we first started I think we were playing like 150 shows a year probably, so there were not really any breaks… we played all the weekends, and then some of the not-weekends. We played any show, anywhere. We definitely have dialed the frequency back of how much we go out… and my partner, Tim and I, we have a daughter now so that adds some extra logistical things to touring as well.”
If she could go back in time back in time to the beginning of her music career what advice would she have for her younger self? “I think I would say two things. One, I would say, not to get so upset by the music industry. Don't take it so personally; which I'm very good at now, but back then I was not very good at it. It's taken a lot of time to develop a thicker skin and just let things roll off your back and not hold a grudge… The other one would just be to have toured more strategically. Because when we first started out, our very first tour, we were like, ‘Let's go from Fernie to Newfoundland and back’ with no fanbase, and we’ll put out an album the day before we go and nobody knows who we are… and we’ll headline and we have to do three 45 minute sets and we have no money… there was not really much of a strategic plan. It was just go really hard without much planning. I think when you're starting out it's good to say yes to a lot of things, but I think that maybe we were a little over ambitious from the get go.”
Shred Kelly is made up of Sage McBride (Lead Vocals, Keyboard), Tim Newton (Lead Vocals, guitar, banjo), Ty West (Guitar, Backup Vocals), Ryan Mildenberger (Drums), and Ric Behan (Bass). To help us all get to know the band a little better, Sage graciously agreed to play a few rounds of “Most Likely To…”. If we accomplished nothing else, we definitely managed to confuse Tim, who could only hear one half of this conversation.
Who would be most likely to go missing at Showtime? “Ha ha, probably Tim.”
Most likely to get lost? “Ha ha ha, probably Tim also”
Who is most likely to own a unicorn onesie? “Oh, probably me.”
Most likely to have a hidden stash of snacks? “Ummm, Ty”
Most likely to eat something off the ground? “Ummmm… I want to say… me?” Most likely to bring home a stray animal? “Ryan! His partner’s a vet!”
Most likely to abandon civilization and move to an off grid cabin in the woods? “I feel like we would all do that. We’ll all go together.”
Most likely to lock themselves out of their car? “Oh, that’s Tim!”
Most likely to crack a joke at an inappropriate time? “Ty.”
Most likely to impulse buy an inflatable dinosaur suit? “Probably what I would do, but maybe Ryan would too.”
Most likely to fake a birthday at a restaurant to get free cake? “I don’t think anyone really likes birthdays, but who really likes cake? Let's go with Ryan, Ryan likes cake.”
Who would be most likely to cheat at a board game? ”I'm not sure, we're very honest. None of us.” Not even at Monopoly? “No, no way, ha ha ha!”
Shred Kelly is bringing their unique blend of rock, folk and pure raw energy to the Capitol Stage on May 5th, and this will be a show for the books. With Saskatoon’s Dirty and the Perks opening, known for their own energetic and party-worthy folk rock sound, it will be a night to remember. You can get your tickets on Showpass, but don’t wait too long or you might be disappointed. I’ll see you on the dance floor!