Regina, Saskatchewan band The WON’Ts are an indie surf rock band made up of a group of friends. Somewhat being ‘friends/frenemies for years’, the band was born at a Paint Nite (a social night of instructed painting). Starting off with a few demo tracks two of the members had created previously, The WON’Ts came together and started writing.
The band currently has five members, with the fifth being quite new. Carl Johnson is on the guitar and vocals, Darcy McIntyre is on bass and vocals, Christina Canfield plays keys and vocals, Landon Leibel plays the drums, and newest member Ali Abbas is on guitar. The band has one EP out, called Weird Weekend, that they released in June of 2019. It features lots of surfy guitar and fun organ throughout. The harmonies they sing on the EP also blend really well together, creating a super solid sound.
Additionally, they have released a music video for their song “High Fives & Water Slides”, which can be found on Weird Weekend. The video is one like no other, featuring a group of people travelling in a van, drinking Gatorade, on their way to bury someone alive. It’s odd, yet very satisfying to watch and seems less creepy than it is with the fun, upbeat song playing. With nods to the arts neighborhood in the city of Regina, many locals would love this video. McIntyre says that ‘the video came up kind of organically. Carl and I are huge horror fans and wanted to have a video that would leave viewers a little uneasy. I like the dark theme paired with such a pop tune’. Hearing the influence and idea of the video makes it even more interesting to watch. I now see it as more of a quirky horror music video that is meant to be a little edgy.
The band is most creative when they are together, stating that ‘Carl comes up with a lot of riffs on his own, but when we get together we kind of just jam on stuff until it clicks or doesn’t. We write easily together and just have fun with it. For example, a song from our upcoming EP (The WON’Ts Against The World Crime League) is called “Jiggle It”, and it was written to the sound of a clothes dryer off-kilter’. They seem to have fun writing together and come up with refreshing songs that make you want to dance or bob along. McIntyre mentioned that ‘every time we get together we inevitably write something, so we have a lot of material to work with’. Elaborating, she said they have another EP, in addition to the one already mentioned, and a full-length record written, waiting to hit the studio. In the meantime, The WON’Ts are in the process of recording The WON’Ts Against The World Crime League with Orion Paradis at Soul Sound Studios.
Reflecting on the Saskatchewan community, McIntyre said that they often ‘write music for other people in the Sask music scene to enjoy’. Most of the local artists in Saskatchewan know each other, and are in fact friends. With a smaller community, everyone seems to find the event to go to each night, and will often encounter many fellow musicians there. ‘There is nothing better than playing a show and seeing members of other bands in the audience with big smiles. We frequently reference places in this province in our lyrics because we legit love this province.’
One of my favourite tunes of theirs is “Won’ts Theme”. It is the first track on their EP Weird Weekend, and is truly a theme song for the band. It has a surf rock guitar sound, with suspended keys and fast paced percussion. Vocal harmonies lead into a famous monologue from the movie Pump Up The Volume:
‘Okay, this is really me now. No more hiding. Listen, we’re all worried, we’re all in pain. That just, that comes with having eyes and having ears. But just remember one thing; it can’t get any worse, it can only get better.
I mean, high school is the bottom. Being a teenager sucks, but’s that the point. Surviving it is the whole point. Quitting it is not going to make you strong. Living will, you just hang on and hang in there. You know, I know all about the hating and sneering. I’m a member of the ‘why bother’ generation myself. But why did I bother to come out here tonight? And why did you? I mean it’s time. It begins with us. Not with politicians, the experts, or the teachers, but with us. With you and with me. The ones who need it most. I believe with everything that’s in me, the whole world is longing for healing.
Even the trees and the earth itself are crying out for it. You can hear it everywhere. It’s the same kind of healing I desperately needed, and finally feel has begun, with you.’
It really blasts the listener with their sound and starts off the EP with somewhat of an introduction to the band through the monologue. Someone being introduced to this band through “Won’ts Theme” will be immediately hooked. It’s fun, creative, and in-your-face. Simply going off of this track, I am excited to hear their new material. They have such an effortlessly energetic sound and have definitely found a groove that anyone can move along to.
The WON’Ts have played a number of Saskatchewan festivals since starting up. They spoke about their favourites and mentioned some memorable experiences they have had at festivals:
‘I think our personal favorites have been Ness Creek in 2019, as well as Regina Folk Festival that same summer. Ness Creek is special and magic on its own and is amazing to play in the boreal forest under the stars. We got to see Daniel Romano and the Snotty Nose Rez Kids playing to a wild crowd on a beautiful July night! Just magical. Regina Folk Festival was an incredibly big weekend for us as we played at least four workshops with other amazing performers as well as our own show, the after-party, and a tweener [a performance between bigger acts] on the main stage. It was work, but it was very rewarding work.’
Not slowing down despite the world’s events, The WON’Ts have been keeping busy. Since last summer when festivals were happening left, right, and center, they have had the opportunity to play at SaskTel’s Digital Music Festival, where they played three songs to SaskTel’s online platform. They shared the ‘stage’ with some larger Saskatchewan bands and were even able to get creative with the performance, seeing as it was all videotaped beforehand. Along with this festival, they have been writing and recording as previously mentioned.
This is a band that is only getting started, especially with the addition of their new member. I have had the experience of seeing them perform live, and loved every minute of it. I imagine many others feel this way too and will continue to support them. With their numerous festival appearances so far and seemingly endless writing, I’m sure they have no shortage of performances planned for the future. Keep an eye on The WON’Ts and make sure to give their music a listen!