Making the Band
He smiles as he looks up from his drum kit. It has been a long haul, but Marc Hollett knows that he's reached a brand new high. Drummer for the local band Sweatshop, Hollett has gone through many days before reaching this small, but accomplished local fame. And to think it all began with a couple of teenagers playing in a basement a few times every month.
Hollett had always been enthusiastic about playing music: as a child, he and his neighbourhood friends would parade around the street putting on "shows". Yet, it wasn't until 1997, when he was in Grade 9, that Hollett was first enthralled by the idea of a band. His schoolmates Devon Wells and Arnob Bal were attempting to start a band, and Marc was asked to be the drummer.
This band, originally known as the Styrofoam Bullets, formed in November of 1997. Because of the constant juggling in an attempt to find that perfect frontman-type vocalist, the band stuck to mostly instrumental music, and numerous covers. The creation lasted for almost a year, at which point Bal left the band.
In hopes of keeping up their music, Hollett and Wells attended Rock Factory, a summer camp which joins young, aspiring musicians together for actual band experience and instruction. It was here that the duo met Chris Dinn, a guitar player and songwriter. They clicked almost instantly: while the rest of the campers broke for lunch, the newly formed trio opted for jam time over food. When Rock Factory had concluded, Hollett and Wells returned to their first project, now called Café Inc. But, it seemed like a dead end. It was at this point that Hollett decided to call up Dinn, to see if maybe he would be interested in forming a new band. The idea seemed to flourish, as Wells rejoined the musical effort, and Chris Peckford was asked to do vocals.
They played mostly covers, from such bands as Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, yet they noticed a problem: the music that was propelling from the band sounded great, but the constant lack of Peckford's vocals seemed to affect the band - he never showed up for practices. This lead to the termination of Peckford as part of the band, and the fresh decision that Dinn would take on the responsibility of vocals, as well as to continue his stance as guitarist and main songwriter.
Finally, it seemed to be a stable arrangement. They had an original or two under their belts - namely the song Pictures of You, a staple of the band - and a number of cover songs that they felt comfortable playing. It was time to take practices to the next level. In the summer of 1998, Sweatshop took the stage for the first time at a festival in Paradise, known as Sunsplash. It was as clumsy and awkward as a first kiss - yet they put off a very entertaining show. When looking at the stage, you knew their presence would develop: they belonged in front of an audience.
Though, as time went on, Wells grew weary of the idea, which left Dinn and Hollett to explore once more for a replacement. And in 1999, they found him: Tony Batten, an accomplished bass player who had numerous years of band experience, was asked to join the collective group Sweatshop. They played around a bit - at shows, in the studio - until Dinn realized he couldn't compromise between the guitar and his singing.
While starting their search for a new guitarist, Sweatshop failed to see the talent that was right under their noses: John Duff, a good friend and an amazing musician, was asked to join the band. He was the missing ingredient in the perfect recipe.
And it's been a perfect blend since then. With a well-defined style - "a unique brand of radio friendly hard rock", notes Hollett - numerous live shows, recording time, and a large local fan base under their belt, Sweatshop seem to be doing pretty good for themselves. As Hollett looks past his drums and his band members while on stage at Peace-A-Chord 2000, he realizes they've achieved a lot throughout the times of often much desperation and frustration. Dinn is not the only one singing There goes my friend as Sweatshop play their final song, Don't Think - often referred to as "the Happy Song" by friends and band mates alike. The fans cheer wildly as they finish their half-an-hour set, with many flashes and video cameras, signs of adoration, and the occasional "Marc, I want your love child" being yelled at the humble drummer.
You've definitely come a long way, baby.