When you think of St. John’s, NL and their music scene, a pop-rock/reggae/funk sound, may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Baytown is contributing to the diverse music scene in Newfoundland by releasing their sophomore album, Island. Baytown has only been a band for a handful of years but have already been garnering attention from their Music NL nominations and having their video, ‘Waited On’ receiving airplay on CMT.
The members of Baytown; Matt Cooke, James Lee Wright, Jason Howard, and Greg Bruce have strong musical backgrounds. Coming from musical families, it was a no brainer that they started playing music together.
“Myself, James and our original drummer Mike had grown up together, skateboarding together, and realized we liked the same music. We all come from musical families as well, so it wasn’t a stretch for any of us to get together and play music. In high school we all had similar tastes in music as well; talented upbeat music, like Sublime, Bob Marley, etc. It was a no brainer on what kind of music we wanted to play. Just music we could relate to and that we all enjoyed playing. Jason joined us on drums and we also asked our friend Greg Bruce to play saxophone with us at a couple of our live shows and eventually Greg joined the band full-time,” said Cooke.
Baytowns sophomore release, ‘Island’, is a mix of upbeat, reggae/funk songs that keep your feet taping, but you can also find hints of Cooke’s personal acoustic/rock/blues tracks on the album in tracks like, ‘Give yourself the Gun.’
“I am the sole songwriter for the band, and I usually hash it out by myself and bring the core of the song to the guys, and we work on it from there. It may get completely re-worked, or we may decide it’s not a good fit for the band. Jimmy is great to bring that set reggae sound and him and Mike put the groove of the song together. If it doesn’t fit for Baytown, it may be a song I will play on my own,” said Cooke.
As many Canadian bands are managing, organizing tours, and even producing their own albums, it is no different for Baytown.
“We are self-produced and self-managed, which is like a lot of bands out there. For ‘Island’ we took a few songs we had been playing for a few years and a few newer songs which we wrote over the recording process. It’s hard to be your own critic and deciding if a part of a song should get cut, or re-worked. There isn’t a whole lot of options in Newfoundland for producers and often times they aren’t available. Producing is a touchy thing and can make our break an album,” said Cooke.
As to what they have learned while recording and releasing two albums, touring, and releasing several videos, Cooke says, “When recording, the time you think you will need, double it. The budget you think you will need, double that. If you aren’t quite happy with an album, or even a song you have recorded, keep working on it, take the time to craft it, you will regret it later if you don’t.”
You can check out Baytown on their first visit to NB and PEI when they play Plan B in Moncton on April 3rd, The Capital in Fredericton on April 4th, and in PEI on April 5th at the ECMA Music NL Showcase.
Baytowns new album ‘Island’ is available now on iTunes and http://baytown.bandcamp.com/