Sturdy Lemon and Stranger Than Fiction were among local youth bands that rocked Uptown Activity Centre on Saturday, Aug. 17. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Port Alberni bands ‘out of the basement’ and onto an album

Two bands, products of the Alberni Valley’s school of rock, celebrate their CD debut



If there was ever any question that Alberni teens can rock, Sturdy Lemon and Stranger Than Fiction removed all doubt with their dual CD release party, packing the Uptown Activity Centre on Saturday night (Aug. 17).

“It’s our first album,” said Madi Duncan, lead singer of Stranger Than Fiction. “It’s been in the works for two years.”

What’s so remarkable about that?

The band members are still enroled at ADSS. Both groups are products of Alberni Teens Can Rock, a youth music program on the lookout for more young musicians interested in artistic development. The recordings were produced by John Greenberg in his home studio.

A year ago, Stranger Than Fiction was getting set to shoot their first music video at the Multiplex. They debuted the video at a Bulldogs game last November.

READ: Alberni Teens Can Rock band Stranger Than Fiction releases first single

Duncan, now 17, was “pretty young,” she said. She’s proud of the song writing that went into the self-titled CD.

“I think it’s kind of cool because the boys give free range with the lyrics,” she said. “I get to write about what I want.”

Justin MacFadden, lead vocalist of Sturdy Lemon, said they were invited into the program after playing at home for years as friends and multi-instrumentalists.

“None of us does only one thing,” he explained.

Is there a twist with that name, Sturdy Lemon?

“We like to say it came out of sleep deprivation and a thirst for lemonade,” MacFadden said.

Both bands described their recordings as a mix of musical genres.

“It’s all rock music,” Duncan said.

Her band’s long-term goal is to open for Foo Fighters. She sang with the band in concert before thousands of fans at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena last September.

READ: Young Port Alberni musician sings with the Foo Fighters

“It was insane,” she said of the experience. “I sang Under Pressure.”

That would be one way of describing it.

Sturdy Lemon includes MacFadden, Reghan Geddes (lead guitar), Liam Welsh (drums), Garin Burns (pianist) and Jarod Gagnon (bass).

Together with Duncan, Stranger Than Fiction includes Ryan Bennett (lead guitar), Phoenix Gates (rhythm guitar), Drake Shoemaker (bass), Sean O’Neill (piano/keyboard) and Noel Dufour (drums).

Both albums can be found on iTunes, Spotify and other music streaming sites.

Todd Flaro, who created the music program with Greg Alkerton, said it began with a much larger group of kids before progressing through to musical development.

“The whole concept of this was to get the kids out of the basement,” Flaro said.

They’re currently looking for the next group of kids, 12 to 15 years old.

“But we don’t teach them how to play,” he said. “We look for intermediate to advanced musicians.”

If you are interested, check out Alberni Teens Can Rock on Facebook.

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