The mere idea of a band like My Son The Hurricane seems hard to fathom these days: A 14-piece, brass-loaded behemoth that blends funk, jazz and hip-hop with a New Orleans flair. It’s not that such an approach is impossible to pull off successfully—which My Son The Hurricane certainly does—it’s just the sheer practically of running such an operation seems impossibly daunting, as almost everyone else in the music business continues to downsize.
But drummer Danno O’Shea’s dream of having the biggest and baddest band in Canada continues to evolve, as evidenced by My Son The Hurricane’s new album Is This What You Want?!, their third and most accomplished independent release to date. Recorded at Toronto’s Phase One Studios with engineer Jeff Pelletier (Big Sugar, Ludacris), the album captures the band’s live wall of sound in all its glory, with new vocalist Sylvie Kindree adding an intriguing new dynamic to complement the group’s longtime charismatic front man Jacob Bergsma.
What makes the rise of My Son The Hurricane so remarkable is that it’s based on their dedication to touring. From the group’s beginnings in Niagara Falls, Ontario, their emphasis was on putting together an unforgettable live experience and taking it across the country. Now firmly established as a festival favourite, My Son The Hurricane has another busy summer lined up, which you can find out more about at msthofficial.com
Danno O’Shea took a few minutes to explain how things have gotten to this point.
What makes Is This What You Want?! different from anything you’ve previously done?
Myself and [trumpet player] Ewan Divitt did the bulk of the writing on this album. As well, the addition of Sylvie Kindree to the band has added much more melody vocally than we’ve had previously.
What is the writing process like within the band, and what songs do you feel best capture your musical vision for the new album?
The process is different than most bands I’ve worked with. We write in sheet music and hand it out, with the lyrics being the last piece of the puzzle. I think the tunes “Birthday Cake” and “Smoke And Mirrors” really grab what we were going for—a true sense of what the live show is like, caught on tape.
What are the biggest challenges in managing a band with so many members?
I think it’s figuring out how to replace the hair I tear out! It's actually better than you might imagine. I’m an organizer by nature so it works out for us. It’s also something I’ve wanted to do ever since I performed in public for the first time at my high school, playing “Golden Boy” by Primus. The roar of the crowd forever sent me chasing the musical dragon.
What has been your most memorable experience while touring in Canada?
After we wrote “Pushin’ Up Daisies” [on their previous album You Can’t Do This] it started getting requested a lot. People started telling us what it meant to them and just being in new cities with people singing your lyrics back to you is pretty special stuff.
If there is anything you’d changeabout the music industry, what would it be?
I wouldn’t. Each generation had its own challenges to face within a changing business model. I’m not an older musician crying foul of the industry. That doesn’t benefit me to do so. Would I rather get big bucks from Spotify? Sure. But instead, we choose to be fortunate that a gang of us can get out on the road and do what love.