Not every upstart band in Saskatoon has an indie music bent and eyes CBC Radio 3 as its goal. Sometimes bands are purely driven by their interest in the music, in the effect it has on an audience and in having a good time doing what they love.
This is the case with Misterfire, a genre-defying band with ska and funk elements who are releasing their debut album at Louis’ on Jan. 21. Refusing to pin themselves down musically and aim only for a niche audience, Misterfire’s hope for their album is just to spread the music and get their product to a larger audience.
“Our goal as a group when we started was just ‘I wanna make an album,’ ” said frontman Ben Fortosky, sitting down with the Sheaf last week. “And we’ve gotten there. And I just want to see where it takes us.”
Misterfire was born in November of 2008 during Fortosky’s first term at the University of Saskatchewan.
“I came up with the idea to start a group that wasn’t strictly jazz just as I was going into university,” he said. “I randomly ran into [keyboardist Cameron Baribeau] the first couple days of engineering and I was like, ‘Hey, I know you. You play trombone. I play trumpet. We should start a ska band.’ ”
The band started out as a ska group inspired by local talent North of Shorty. However, due to the members’ diverse musical talents built up through past years in jazz bands and the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra, Misterfire branched out into different musical territory.
“Our first show was a house party. We were just playing covers that we had all listened to. I liked how the show turned out,” Fortosky said. “There was no really clear stage where we decided we wanted to keep doing stuff. We just kept getting more gigs and having fun with it.”
The band has gone through a few lineup changes over the years before settling in July 2011 on the current lineup of Fortosky, Baribeau, Jordan Welbourne on lead guitar, Emmett Fortosky on bass and Ethan McKibben on drums. Fortosky, Baribeau, Welbourne and McKibben are all U of S students, while Emmett Fortosky is still in high school.
“Because we all have a common background in jazz, I think we especially appeal to people who play music and are music students because we do do a lot of stuff that is kind of out there,” Fortosky said.
Their debut album, All Lit Up, being released Jan. 21 is a collection of the best original music they have produced over the past few years.
“There’s not really a complete central theme, per se, but we feel the title describes the music pretty well because the music is all relatively upbeat and guaranteed to get people dancing,” Fortosky said. “It’s what we like to do.”
Misterfire strive to have a high energy stage presence and transfer their energy to the audience. Thus, like all their music and shows, All Lit Up is aimed at people who like dancing to upbeat music. It is also completely self-financed.
“Basically everything we’ve raised over our time together as a group has gone into that and we’re pretty proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with all independent planning,” Fortosky said.
Fortosky hopes his band offers a different musical option to people who aren’t into the local indie or alternative music scenes.
“Our songs, they appeal to a wide audience because we don’t really have a fixed genre,” he said. “So putting the CD out there is definitely going to expand our fanbase quite a bit.”
But beyond expanding their fanbase, Fortosky says Misterfire’s biggest priority with All Lit Up is to deliver an enjoyable time to audiences.
“We like to party. We like to have a good time. And we like to make sure you have a good time when listening to us.”
[box type=”info”]Misterfire’s CD release show takes place at 8 p.m. on Jan. 21 at Louis’. The show also features the Young Benjamins and Between the Lines.[/box]
Photo: Anne Baycroft