This Saskatoon-based band seized their big chance, and reminded me that once in a while, it’s alright to take a risk.
For many people, the ages of twenty to thirty are a time of great uncertainty. Most people start schooling, move out, switch jobs multiple times, and eventually (sometimes) find themselves lying awake at night wondering, “what the hell am I doing with my life.”
A common response to dealing with these existentialist issues is turning to music. Back in November of last year, this is exactly what I did. I attended the Three Days Grace concert when they came to town so I could lose myself – and my negative thoughts – in the roar of the crowd. What I fortunately found at that show was a band speaking to the exact thoughts I was facing: worries over the future, and a feeling of starting again. But it wasn’t the band I expected.
The opening act on that fateful November night was a local Saskatoon band named GreenWing. On Instagram they describe themselves as a “heavy indie band featuring driving rhythms and pop inspired leads.” Their performance was a standout experience, as their uniquely melancholic, yet oxymoronically hopeful lyricism spoke to me. So, I did what every good journalist does, and reached out to learn a little more about them.
GreenWing was established in 2021 during the latter half of the COVID-19 lockdown as a means for musicians Travis Williams, Zakk Strelioff, Matt Stinn and Anthony Allegretto to maintain their sanity during the harsh Saskatchewan winter, with “the hopes of one day returning to stages and touring.”
Williams told me that having been members of touring bands before, he and Stinn decided they wanted “to use this project [the band] to learn from their past mistakes in order to approach things in a way that they had seen other successful bands do, and to do it in the way they had always wanted to.”
The band fulfilled this goal by getting themselves started on some early tours to establish themselves, while also doing what Williams described as “weekend runs.” Essentially, their plan was to do three shows, every single month, all out of town. “That way we can hit every city within an eight hour driving distance every three months,” Williams explained. He went on to say that this was beneficial for the band as they were able to work other jobs during their off time, but could still remain “tour tight” and ready to play at a moment’s notice.
Being “tour tight” ended up aiding the band significantly when they were asked at the last minute to open for the aforementioned Canadian post-grunge band, Three Days Grace. Williams told me that there was a two-and-a-half hour span between when they were contacted to open for the band and when they were up on the Sasktel Centre stage to perform.
“We had four vehicles flying around the city all picking up gear,” he said. “We all felt sick to our stomach during sound check; our hearts were racing. But, when we stepped out on the stage to perform, it just felt right being in front of the arena.”
Having wondered personally what it would be like to perform on the Sasktel Centre stage, I thought that tidbit was pretty cool. Fortunately for my semi-jealous ears, Williams did admit that once they stepped off the stage, the whole band did indeed go “holy shit, what just happened.” Given the circumstances, I think that is a totally normal response to have.
Ultimately though, the band felt very appreciative of the love and support they got on the stage that night. “That was the stage we always dreamed of performing [on], because that’s where all the big bands played when we were kids,” Williams said. “Oftentimes you don’t see the place packed for openers, but it was, and the people were loud for us. It made us feel really loved. It solidified that we were on to something with this project.”
Aside from that one night in November, Greenwing has been up to a lot over the last year. In September of 2021 they released their debut album, Late Bloomer, to a sold out crowd at Amigos Cantina. Williams told me that the album was all about starting over, rearranging yourself, and using what you’ve learned over time to get a headstart on the new chapters of your life.
“Late Bloomer [the title track] is about nearing the age of 30; the song is really about the dread you get when you get closer to that age, [but] really though you’re still just a kid, you’re just getting started. You’re learning from your mistakes and learning how to do it better,” he said. “Your teenage years are spent analyzing and thinking about what you can do better, your twenties are testing it, and your late twenties are gaining respect for it all. Thirty is where it all begins.”
Stinn did a lot of the writing for the Late Bloomer album, and filled me in on what the group has been doing since the fall season. “Once shows died down and we headed into the Christms season, we walled up at the studio and have been meeting weekly to work on new music,” he said.
With that in mind, Stinn further told me that the rapid success of the band has brought its own anxieties, but has also pushed him to make music that “really connects with our audience.” Fortunately he seems to have caught his stride in the midst of the chaos, as he also told me that while just a few songs deep into the creative process, “the ideas just seem to keep flowing!”
Over the course of the remaining winter season and coming spring, punk, pop-rock and indie aficionados will be able to find GreenWing as they tour across Canada between February and May.
Their earliest shows are March 24 at The Owl Acoustic Lounge in Lethbridge, AB. and March 25 at The Vat in Red Deer, AB. They’ll even be at USask’s very own Louis’ on Apr. 15 as an opening act for indie-rock band, Mom Jeans.
That said, they have also been known to do drop-in shows at different venues around the city from time to time. If you can’t catch them at any of those shows, Stinn promises they’ve already got a handful of festivals booked for the summer. Check out their Instagram page (@greenwingmusic) for those announcements.
Hearing GreenWing that November night, and then getting to interview them and hear their approach to life really helped shed some light on some troubles I was trying to overcome. The experience taught me that everything in life is a chance to learn, and that opportunities should never be put on the backburner, even if they seem risky – sometimes they can wildly change the trajectory of your life. Everyone will have moments where they don’t know what to do, what’s going on, or how they’re going to handle it. But in the end you’ll still make it, and you too will bloom like the flower you’re meant to be, even if it is a little “late.”