Fans of some of the finest, most catchiest Canadian country music around won’t want to miss the River Town Saints when they hit Westerner Days July 20th.
The dynamic five-piece band, whose members are rooted in towns surrounding the Ottawa River, perform in the ENMAX Centrium at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m.
“It’s been fun, and we’ve got a lot of new music coming. We are super excited to show some of that new stuff as well,” said frontman Chris Labelle during a recent chat.
Rounding out the band are Chris McComb, Jeremy Bortot, Jordan Potvin and Daniel DiGiacomo.
The guys released their debut self-titled disc River Town Saints in the spring of 2017.
Right off the bat, the tunes present a tight, cohesive band that knows plenty about crafting engaging cuts from the infectious smash hit disc opener Bonfire which leads seamlessly into the upbeat Cherry Bomb. Other stand-outs include How I Got To You and the sleek stylings of A Little Bit Goes a Long Way which was also their first single.
Things slow down a bit for Woke Up Like This, which showcases another side to the band’s talent in interpreting a more reflective-type of cut. The video for Cherry Bomb, which marked their second single, has also garnered more than 3 million views on YouTube, and their third single Bonfire hit the Top 10 at country radio.
Altogether, the band cut about 35 songs in total for the project.
“I wanted to go off our harmonies and our energy for the tracks. If you’ve ever seen one of our live shows, it’s very high-energy and it’s very raw. So that’s what I envisioned for the (CD) personally.”
Looking back to how the guys joined forces in the first place, Labelle said he was asked a few years back to put a band together. “I went to a whole bunch of agricultural fairs around the Ottawa area – there are so many small towns with fairs going on.” First off, he saw McComb play, and had done some writing with him in the past.
“I said, hey man, I’ve got this opportunity – do you know any guys? He said, ‘Yes – I’ve got the guys. I played in a pop group a long time ago.’
“So basically, that pop group became the River Town Saints. It all came pretty easy,” he explained, adding that the name seemed the ideal moniker as the guys are, as mentioned, from the regions around the Ottawa River.
“We also felt that River Town Saints was a cool name because all of these guys go to church – they’re all good boys. The country thing isn’t always about bringing the bad home to mom – you have to bring the good home once in a while,” he added with a laugh.
For Labelle, an intro to country came early. “I was born and raised on country. My mom made me listen to Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks – all the good stuff. I always loved the cool melodies and cool harmonies, so that’s what I also wanted to bring to the band for sure.”
Finding their distinct sound didn’t come without a few bumps – perfectly natural considering there are five guys in the band with different backgrounds and varying tastes.
But a sound all their own certainly crystalized over time.
“Sometimes it’s tough bumping heads trying to find that right song for us, so it was a tough transition,” he notes with a chuckle, adding that at the start, he made the boys listen to country for about a year. “They slowly fell in love with it! Jordan, our drummer, would say that Dierks Bentley got him into country music. Dan would say Dean Brodie got him into country music. So yes, the more you listen to the music, the more you do fall in love with it.”
Initially, they released A Little Bit Goes a Long Way to radio in November of 2016.
“But a lot of people don’t know that we spent a year and a half to two years with Open Road Records trying to find our sound, and to develop into the River Town Saints.”
For Labelle, inspiration flows in part from finding out what other artists are up to.
“I love listening to new bands, and new fresh faces to hear what they are doing. When I turn on the radio and I hear a new artist, that’s what gets me going. It’s like, wow, that’s a new voice and a new sound.”
Meanwhile, the band’s latest single, You Get To Me, was released this past February and Labelle said another one is set to hit the airwaves in August on the way to a bigger project down the road.
“Hopefully, there will be another EP out by the end of the year.”