To quote the denizens of big-hair ‘80s music, Twisted Sister, there are still some kids out there who wanna rock.
A nightmare to those parents who envision their sweet Jane or Tommy to be a doctor, lawyer, or, gasp, a journalist, playing music is a viable career if you are willing to work at it.
Just ask Jeff Kalesnikoff of Victoria indie rock band Acres of Lions.
The vocalist and guitarist says that it is possible to make music your career. He and Acres of Lions are, in fact, demonstrating that point as they tour every nook and cranny of B.C. with a provincial government funded career tour called JobFest 2012.
Currently winding their way around the Interior, Acres of Lions perform when JobFest 2012 arrives at Polson Park in Vernon Tuesday, Sept. 18.
“The entertainment industry is part of the promotion of JobFest,” said Kalesnikoff, adding live rock bands and performers, both local and headliners acts, provide the entertainment on stage throughout the day while young people are introduced to career options through face-to-face discussions with event presenters, guest speakers, career tools, interactive games, and other career-related information.
Hired to be part of JobFest by Secret Study, a Vancouver-based organization that connects brands to the creative community, Acres of Lions have already made an impact performing to students and youth in Northern B.C.
“We were already in Haida Gwaii, Dease Lake and points beyond,” said Kalesnikoff. “We try to make a connection with the younger crowd and this has been a great way to do it. So far, they have responded well to it. We include the crowd into our set and with these smaller stages we’ve been able to do it better.”
A native of Castlegar, Kalesnikoff has been taking time during JobFest to share his expertise as a working musician. He helped form Acres of Lions in 2006 and before that played in a punk band with fellow band member Dan Ball, who is originally from Nelson.
“I worked at a restaurant for five years, but then I said ‘lets keep touring,” he said. “If I could offer any advice, I’d say you have to stick with it and use any ways you can to promote yourselves, whether it be social media, knocking on doors, and calling everyone you know.”
That persistence has paid off for the band.
After establishing themselves in Victoria, Kalesnikoff and Ball met with guitarist/keyboardist Tyson Yerex. An in-demand musician, Yerex briefly toured with seminal American punk band Against Me! in 2009.
Although the Lions recently had a lineup change when its longtime drummer, Lewis Carter, left the band, they’ve managed to regroup with Shane Deyotte, also a Kootenay boy from Trail, who has taken over the sticks.
The band has, so far, recorded two full-length albums, the most recent being 2011’s Collections, released by Cordova Bay Entertainment.
“Our first album, Working, featured songs I had written. They were pretty polished pop-rock songs with anthemic choruses,” said Kalesnikoff. “On Collections, everyone wrote the songs. We all had ideas and wanted that indie rock sound. We wanted it to be an indication of what the band sounds like live.”
Describing that sound as having a bit of a ‘90s nostalgic feel –– think strong pop hooks –– Acres of Lions includes Jimmy Eat World, Motion City Soundtrack and Epitaph Records signed punk bands as early influences.
With its current single Reaction, off Collections, charting at No. 19 in Canada (Mediabase Alt Rock) as well as reaching the top spot on Victoria and Edmonton alternative rock stations, the band is also about to see Collections released in the U.K. on the Fierce Panda label.
“We’ve had six years to build the band from the ground up, and things are now really happening,” said Kalesnikoff, adding the band went to the U.K. in March, and are planning to go back once the album is released there.
Selected by Music BC as one of the Top 20 bands in B.C. for the Peak Performance Project, Acres of Lions have toured the country five times, including festival performances at EdgeFest, Canadian Music Week, Kelowna’s Keloha Music Festival, Breakout West, and JunoFest.
They have also supported Canadian bands such as Ten Second Epic, Said The Whale, Shad, Hey Rosetta, The Reason, and Hedley.
Acres of Lions will relate their experiences through music when they play at JobFest 2012 Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m. at Polson Park. Visitors will receive JobFest giveaways, such as T-shirts, DVDs, and other JobFest related gear as souvenirs of this fun and unique event.
For more information on JobFest, visit www.jobfest2012.ca