A few weeks back, I had the great privilege of opening for the up and coming folk/rock band Ragged Mane at Rockbottom Brewpub on Spring Garden Road. Better yet, I had the even greater privilege of chatting with drummer Jonathon Deyoung, rhythm guitarist Justin Layes and lead singer Matt Howard between sets.
GUFF: Tell me about the band; what are you guys about?
Layes: Well, we’re from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. We’re a small-town group and we’ve been together for about a year now. We’re folk-rock-pop. We use the acoustic guitar, but we’ve brought some electric over it.
GUFF: Where have you played thus far?
Deyoung: We’ve been doing a lot of shows; we’re trying to tap into Halifax, but we want to keep St. F.X. (Saint Francis Xavier University) as our own core base. We’ve played Gus’ Pub and now RockBottom a few times. We’re heading up to Plan B (Moncton, New Brunswick) at the end of the month. It’s a nice environment to play in and they’re really music friendly.
GUFF: Tell me about yourselves: how’d you guys get the band together?
Deyoung: Me, Justin and Zack Pettipas (bass, mandolin), grew up together. Zack and I used to play in a band together and Justin always picked guitar. We met Matt at St. F.X. and found out he was a good singer. From there, Matt, Justin and Zack played for a while and we all just kind of got together, the four of us, playing music. We all got back into music hard because we love it so much. Then we picked up John for another lead instrument to give that extra bit we wanted.
GUFF: Sweet deal. So what’s the plan for the band? Where are you hoping to end up?
Howard: Well, we’ll all end up pros. [laughter]
GUFF: Fair enough. [laughter]
Layes: Our plan is to record a lot more. We don’t have many recordings right now but we’re hopefully recording an EP next year.
GUFF: So you don’t have an album out yet?
Howard: No, but we’re starting to work on an EP right now. We have written material on the go. We’re always looking to record new originals. We do a lot of covers to play in bars but we really want to get writing our own stuff. Justin’s really awesome. He’s always got something to say and he’s great with words.
GUFF: Do you have a website or a Facebook page?
Deyoung: Yup, we’re on Facebook, but e-mails are coming in too. We’ve got one song almost mixed; should be done anytime now and we’re going to get a page up featuring it online as well as on a few radio stations. We released our first single on August 12, which helped all our different genres to come together with the folky guitar and vocals, going to a high-octane kind of funk background.
Shortly after our little chat, Howard, Layes and Deyoung, along with their band mates Pettipas and John Stephenson (Lead Guitar), took to the very tight ‘stage’ and opened with a funky, folk purity that I’ve never quite heard before.
Quirky drums (with a t-shirt muting the snare) and a funk bass layered with folk rhythms and a sexy leading lick perfectly illustrated Layes’ description of the band. And Deyoung was certainly right, Howard has a great voice; a tone and timbre that gives the purity that I think sets this band apart from others.
I strongly suggest checking out this wonder of a band. Hit up their Facebook page for upcoming gigs and more details. It’s hard to describe a flavour to someone that previously did not exist, so I recommend, to all of you: get a taste of Ragged Mane soon!