Interview: The Royal Streets Treated Like Kings at Osheaga
During the heat of the weekend, I got to chat with Eric Stirtzinger and Michael Demsey of The Royal Streets. Thes guys form Waterloo, Ontario rocked out on the main stage Friday afternoon. Their performance was amazing and they talked to me about what they thought about their time at Osheaga, what it was like to win Molson Canadian’s #openlive contest, and a bit about their debut album.
Robyn Homeniuk(RH): What’s your experience been like so far?
Michael Demsey (MD): It’s been awesome.
RH: What’s it like on the band side of Osheaga – other than the different coloured wrist bands?
MD: Yesterday we got to be in the artist world, we had our own trailer and the catering was unbelievable. It was a buffet, but with gourmet food. They had anything you wanted.
Eric Stirtzinger (ES): Top chefs of Montreal were cooking everything, it’s amazing.
MD: It was pretty wild! Now we’ve got VIP for the rest of the weekend. We’ve been driven around on golf carts. It’s pretty nice.
RH: That sounds amazing.
ES: [The Staff] were doing everything. We were loading our gear, and they told us “No, don’t touch it we’re doing it.”
MD: They wouldn’t let us carry any of our own equipment.
ES: It was the best treatment, it was cool. WE’VE never had anything like that.
RH: You got to play one of the main stages, Molson’s Scene de la Montagne, how did that feel? Were you nervous?
MD: Definitely the biggest stage we’ve ever played. It was wild.
ES: It definitely was, but I felt really comfortable up there.
MD: Yeah we got decent time to do a decent sound check and it was like the best sound check in the world. Once you got out up there and got everything figured out all of the nerves were gone.
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RH: Have you gotten a chance to see anything yet this weekend?
MD: I saw July Talk.
ES: Yeah we saw them. We’ve actualy played with July Talk before and we got to hang with them a bit. They were cool guys.
MD: I saw Foster the People, Sam Roberts.
ES: I stuck around for Outkast, also saw AWOLNATION and Childish Gambino – stayed mostly around the mainstage area.
MD: It’s been a ton of fun out there.
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RH: Do you have a must-see of the weekend?
MD: Probably Hey Rosetta! tomorrow.
ES: Yeah, Hey Rosetta! But I have some for each day.
RH: What about today?
ES: Modest Mouse, Local Natives, Haim, Phantogram, a few others
MD: Volcano Choir
ES: Oh yeah, Volcano Choir.
RH: I’m really looking forward to Haim, I’m in love with Este. What inspired you to use both acoustic and electric guitars at the same time?
MD: When we started, it was just the singer Al, Bill and I before we added the other members. Then we were just two acoustic guitars and vocals.
ES: Then I came along, and we still kept it acoustic. Without a drummer this was just easier to pull off.
MD: We were three acoustic guitars at one point, but once we added the drums it was really the time to start adding electric guitars. It made everything a bit louder and more like party.
ES: It’s also the gear that we had. Al’s always been on an acoustic player, he can play electric but acoustic is his forte. He will riff on the acoustic, then we just fill in with the electric.
RH: So how does it feel coming all the way from Waterloo, Ontario to Osheaga?
MD: It’s pretty wild. We won the Molson Canadian Contest, so Molson’s treating us really well. They got us a big tour bus and put us up in a nice hotel. We’re living the rockstar life for the weekend.
RH: That’s amazing, where do you think you’ll go from here?
MD: We go on tour in the west in the fall, seeing what’s out there. Playing at more festivals would be cool for next summer. Hopefully up, that’s really what we want.
RH: What was the process for the Molson contest?
MD: Al heard about the contest, and he entered it on a whim. We were on tour in May, on the road to a show in Toronto. He was on his phone and I asked him what he was doing, he said he was entering us in this contest. I didn’t really think anything of it. After the tour, I was in Vancouver for a few days and Al called me to say we made the top ten. That’s when I realized “Oh shit, we could actually win this thing!” After that it was based on a panel of judges and a big part of it was social media contest. We had to generate a buzz using hash tags – basically we had people tweet at Molson Canadian to say they wanted to see us play, and then we won.
RH: Was it hard to get people to tweet?
ES: It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
MD: The support we felt was really amazing.
ES: We’ve done voting based contests before, and the support has always been great. Whenever you’re on social media, clogging up people’s news feeds and asking them to do all to voting you know you’re annoying. I hate that myself, but honestly we just wanted to play at Osheaga that’s what we told everyone. And BOOM, everyone started tweeting it. We only had to put a couple feelers out there.
MD: I think it helped that it was for Osheaga. It’s the biggest festival in Canada, so everyone was pretty stoked about it.
RH: Do you think you’ll come back next year?
ES: Yeah, well hopefully they liked us enough to invite us back sometime.
RH: You guys had a pretty great reception I’d say, so it’s looking good.
MD: We had a bunch of people come from Waterloo, like 30-40 people. It’s pretty crazy with the driving, accommodation, tickets etc.
RH: That’s amazing, plus there were tons of locals too. So festivals vs. indoor shows?
MD: So, so different.
ES: I would love to play a bunch of festivals, because I love going to festivals myself. It’s just a completely different experience. The vibe is very different; it’s cool to play on a big stage in front of tons of people. I love playing outside. I saw an interview with Sam Roberts and they asked him the same thing – so I’ll take this from him. At a festival, you have to keep the crowd going and pumped up. Inside, you can slow it down and have quieter, more intimate moments. I thought we did an awesome job, I loved the set we played and I’ll play another festival any day.
RH: Do you have an album out or an EP?
MD: We did two EPs last year.
ES: Like, self-produced.
MD: This past January, we went to a studio in Hamilton called Catherine North. We recorded our CD there. We put that out in March, and we’re still riding that.
ES: It’s been doing well for us.
RH: What’s it called?
ES&MD: Kings and Queen.
RH: What was it like going from self-produced to recording in a studio?
MD: It was like night and day. We worked with a producer for the first time. We spent 10 days in the studio straight – 12 hours a day. All of our focus was put on this, we were kind of cut off from the outside world. The sound quality alone was worth it.
RH: That sounds a little hectic.
MD: We did like a song a day, with a bit of time to touch up a few things.
ES: It was good though. Dan our producer did a great job making sure everything was schedule. Yes it was bsy, but i was the right amount of time. Spending 12 hours in a day there, it flew by.
RH: Sounds like you’ve had a good 2014. Hopefully we’ll get to see you again sometime. Any last words for Montreal fans?
MD: Thank you for coming out to see us play.
ES: Yeah and until we come back check us out online, Facebook, twitter, our website – anything.
You can check out The Royal Streets on Facebook, Twitter, or on their website. Their album Kings & Queen is available on iTunes here.