Billy Nickell takes a sip of his cold drink before launching into a description of the music sequencing his band Cold Driven has been working on lately.
He’s talking about a computer program they discovered on the Internet that uses ACA samplers and condenses drummer triggered sequences down to an iPod.
He may as well be talking about the Big Bang Theory.
Far from being a computer nerd, the lead singer of North Okanagan’s popular hard rock band is all about learning new ways to be on the cutting edge of technology.
And using a computer program for recording, editing and programming music, along with blasting out thumping, melodic rock with two guitars, drums, bass and vocals, is what people can expect upon hearing Cold Driven’s new EP, The Wicked Side of Me, which is officially being released this week.
If it seems like ages since Cold Driven emerged from the dark depths of the recording studio with its last CD, Steel Chambers, it was, in fact, four years ago.
“We’ve gone from touring all over the country to our garages from one end of Armstrong to the other,” said Billy, who with his bassist brother Dennis Nickell, fellow siblings and guitarists Ben and Shane Bouthillier, and drummer Jeremy McLachlan make up Cold Driven’s creative force.
With the success of Steel Chambers and the single Heavier than Heaven –– the album won the band five awards at the Okanagan Music Awards (now the B.C. Indie Awards) and helped them reach the top 5 position in CFox’s well-known SEEDS contest –– Cold Driven has high hopes for The Wicked Side of Me.
The band has already released lead-off single Kingdom Come through online submissions to rock stations across the country.
“Stations can access our data bank and we don’t have to send them out a CD, which saves on shipping costs,” said Billy.
And that’s just part of the technology Cold Driven has been delving into on its new effort.
“We’re sequence driven, so we threw some names out to mix the album, and Dave “Rave” Ogilvie’s was the one that came to mind, so we threw it at him to see if he’d be interested” said Billy.
“When we looked at his credentials, we were impressed,” added Dennis.
The one-time member and producer of ‘80s industrial band Skinny Puppy, Ogilvie has worked with a wide swath of musicians such as Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and Xavier Rudd.
“(Ogilvie) was super fun to work with. We’d bounce ideas off him and he’d help us solidify them. We only had two-and-a-half days to get the sequencing done, so we burned the candle at both ends,” said Billy, adding his bandmate Ben also worked with Ogilvie and Ogilvie’s writing partner Collin Janz on the sequencing and programming.
“(Janz) does all this orchestral programming and symphony stuff. Watching this guy play was a treat… He and Dave come from completely different spectrums. While Dave does the programming, (Janz) does the melodic part.
“They were both amazing to work with. We’d throw out ideas, but we’d realize later that they didn’t sound as good than what was initially in our heads, so they’d come up with 10 more ideas. They’d take charge when we needed that to happen.”
Cold Driven was just as impressed with Danny Craig, the drummer and producer of band Default, who recorded The Wicked Side of Me at his Coach House Studios in Langley. (The drums were recorded at Vancouver’s famed Factory Studios.) And the feeling must have been mutual as Craig agreed to work with Cold Driven after the band handed him a copy of Steel Chambers while Default was playing a gig in Kelowna.
“He has a great ear for music. At first we were writing material that was an extension of Steel Chambers and they would become these long productions. He helped us cut off the fat and challenged us to be better,” said Billy.
“And if anyone challenged him, he’d just point out (Default’s) platinum record on the studio wall in a joking way to remind us who was boss,” laughed Dennis.
The result is an album with catchier melodies that don’t lose their edge while hooking listeners in, say the brothers.
“We want to write stuff that will cross over on radio while still playing the stuff we love,” said Billy. “We have to have songs people will get behind.”
And the album has translated well for the relationship between the sibling musicians, and their newest member, McLachlan, a longtime friend who also hails from Armstrong.
“When you’re in a band with your brother, you can really get pissed off with each other, but now we’re listening to each other,” said Billy. “Before we’d be yelling at each other to get our ideas across, now it’s like we’ll try any idea each other comes up with. We’ve spawned some middle ground.”
And that symbiotic relationship has helped when the band has been on the road.
“Before we’d be out there for 10 minutes then we’d blow up, now the second we’re on the road, you’ve never seen a group of people get along so well… It’s a sign we need to be on the road,” added Dennis.
Cold Driven is about to do just that as it launches its tour in support of The Wicked Side of Me, starting with a CD release party in Vernon Friday.
Cold Driven takes the stage at Vernon’s Club 2929 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, available at the club, Dangerous Clothing and online at www.colddriven.com. The band also plays Armstrong’s Branding Iron Pub June 3 and returns to Vernon to open for Great White at the Funtastic Music Festival July 2.