They emitted greatness on the NXNE stage this year and with the support they’ve been given and the dedication they have to music, the boys from Dean Lickyer are ready to howl their own immigrant song.
The band was formally known as High Voltage and then picked Dean Lickyer because of a friend of Sean’s dad. Why did he inspire you guys so much?
Sean Royle: He was my father’s friend in high school. He showed him classic rock records before they were well known to the general public. Bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, MC-5 and others who weren’t really huge in the late sixties, but were still working their craft. He showed my father all these great records and so he gained all this knowledge and ended up passing it down to me. Dean passed away in the mid 90s’ kind of round the same time rock n’ roll died out. We chose the name because we were stuck with “High Voltage” and needed something new. My dad would always tell me about this “Dean Lequyer” character, and I’d heard all these stories about him ever since I was young. So the name kind of stuck in my head. When we were looking for a new band name I asked the guys what they thought of the name “Dean Lequyer”. I told everyone the story and we all dug it, so we went with it.
You took part in the 2009 Canadian Music Week and you end up getting handed $10,000 to you by Gene Simmons. What was it like meeting him?
Josh Alvernia: It was incredible to meet a member from one of the biggest rock acts of all time. He was very congenial as well. He was very open to chatting and we felt honored to have the opportunity.
Justin Bosso: Gene is also very tall. He was a nice guy too. To get ten thousand dollars from anybody is a real honour let alone a member of KISS.
In 2004, you were young musicians in a band. In 2008, jaws dropped with your performance on Disband and now this summer your opening for Kiss at Bayfest. What’s the main thing that has helped you progress this quickly as a band?
Eric Martin: I think it was playing in bars all night. We were just out playing all the time. We grew so much and it was together through our shows. Our practice was being on stage. Also, we have great managers who have always kept us on the right track.
Josh: We work very hard on our music and our live performance. In 2008 we played just under 180 shows and many of them were for 3 hours so that helped us become practiced. We also have a great team of managers, agents and our families are extremely supportive and it allows us to try new things without fear of failing.
A lot of people say old school rock is missing from today’s music but is it really that easy to bring it back?
Sean: I don’t think we are really trying to “bring it back”. It’s just the kind of music we enjoy listening to and I guess when we play, it comes out sounding a bit more “classic” because we learned from the old records. We all listen to other kinds of music as well, so its not that we are narrow minded. However, I think when we write our music, we take a lot from classic rock. It just is a lot more enjoyable to play.
I’m sure back when you guys were 14 you probably dreamed about experiencing what you guys have accomplished so far. But did you ever think it would really happen?
Justin: I never really thought about it. I loved playing music and I had confidence in our band, but I didn’t think everything would blow up so fast. I’m happy with our success so far, and I only hope we continue to do well.
Eric: When I started this band all I really wanted to do was get out and tour and see the world. We have gone past that and now it’s a crazy ride. I’m just trying to have as much fun as I can and take everything in. Did I ever think I would be in front of how ever many people will be at Bayfest opening for KISS? No way.
How old were you guys when you first played a live show?
Eric: Grade 10 so 14 or 15 years old. Just a rock show at our school. Our first real show came a couple months after and I will never forget it. It was at the Casbah in Hamilton and it was amazing.
What did you like doing in your spare time as young teenagers growing up in Hamilton?
Josh: We played a lot of music and because we dedicated so much time to it, we had to give up a lot of sports and part time jobs to devote our attention to what we love.
Eric: Sports all the time. A lot of road hockey or going to the fire pit with friends. Just hanging out and jamming some acoustic guitar.
When a lot of people hear or see you, they instantly think about bands like Aerosmith or Guns and Roses. Are you satisfied with hearing people say that or do you want them to think about Dean Lickyer?
Justin: I really don’t mind. I am flattered when someone says we sound like the classic rock bands we listen to. I think with time people will start realizing we are our own band and we have our own style.
Sean: I don’t mind, people can call us whatever they want to. But when people say Guns N Roses, we don’t really have that whole badass attitude bands in the 80s’ tried to have. The music we really enjoy is a bit older than that 80s’ stuff. Bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin are the bands we enjoy listening to all the time.
Other than when you first heard your parent’s Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple vinyl and cassettes, when did you guys decide that you were going to play in a rock band?
Josh: It was never really a clear decision. We just never wanted to give it up. We love what we do and when the decision has come to give it up or keep going, it’s always been an easy choice.
Justin: What made me want to play guitar was when I heard Sean playing the opening riff of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in our grade 9 music class. I found out it was by Guns N’ Roses so I bought a bass and the their greatest hits record and started playing in a few rock bands. It wasn’t until grade 11 when I heard “Baba O’ Riley” at a friend’s house when I started taking bass seriously. I asked my dad who played the song “Teenage Wasteland” and he said it was The Who. Ever since then I wanted to make a career out of music.
Today we still listen to music created back in the 70’s, 60’s and even the 50’s. Do you think a lot of modern music today will last as long?
Sean: I’m in no position to tell you what’s going to last or not. I think that a lot of the so called “rock” that you hear will not last. You can tell when a band is a group of solid musicians who write for the love of writing. It just comes out so much more alive. A lot of these “rock” bands seem like they are rushing their songs out, and trying too hard to fit into their style and everything starts sounding the same.
You guys are playing bigger venues like Edgefest as well rural towns like Lucknow. Do you prefer performing at larger venues or smaller personal shows?
Eric: Every show is different. A big stage like Edgefest is a lot of fun, but playing a dive to three people can be a great time too. I just try to have as much fun as I can when I play because I know I could have a real job right now and not be playing drums.
Josh: We love them both. They are different experiences and we haven’t played a lot of the big arena shows yet. But I will always love being able to play an acoustic set in front of 15 people.
What was it like performing on Disband and getting so much credit from the judges?
Josh: It was our first time filming for television so we were nervous. But after it was done and the feedback was so positive, we felt very satisfied with out work.
Eric: It has definitely given us a lot of exposure. I think everything that has happened since then with Gene giving us $10,000 and all the touring we have done, it just gets more people to listen to our band.
When starting out, you guys had to juggle your music between school and all the excess things that come with it. What’s it like to be on the road all the time now?
Justin: Not having to go to school or work every morning is a huge relief. We still keep busy however, but it’s a lot easier now because we devote all of our time to music. Music is our job and we love it.
Sean: You can focus more on music whether its performing, listening, jamming or writing. Your mind is just always on that.
Since you guys are young, haven’t been around for that long, and you’ve already accomplished many achievements that would take some bands ten years to do. How do you stay focused and get better from here?
Sean: I think we just keep doing what we do. Every musician always has something to learn no matter how much they have accomplished. It is important to always remember why you are playing music in the first place, and that’s for the love.
Justin: We just keep listening and making music. We will continue to get better and hopefully people will enjoy what we do.