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(Clockwise from top left) Connor Scott, Raff McMahan, Michael Halls and Luke Groenewoud of Trash Island have been heavily influenced by Calgary's local rock 'n' roll scene.
courtesy Trash Island

Young rockers set to trash Sled Island

Calgarian quartet Trash Island helps usher in a new generation of local music

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With the Calgary music scene growing larger every year, it is not surprising that there has been an influx of young musicians growing in popularity. What is surprising, however, is the type of music that has spurred these new artists into creating their own work. These influences are not the classic rock, boy band, hard rock and teen angst that generation X was raised on, but rather music from a newer generation of Calgarian rockers that are still performing today. For Connor Scott, Luke Groenewoud, Michael Halls and Raff McMahan of Trash Island, other local bands were the catalyst that brought them together.

"Seeing Friendo and Women was why we started the band, basically," says Scott.

For McMahan and Groenewoud, friendship came from an even earlier source: the nostalgic, feel-good tunes of the Pants Situation. "We would go to Pants Situation shows," starts McMahan. Groenewoud continues, "We were like 12 years old [and] started going to shows together . . . that's when we started being best friends."

Television, Pavement and Long Long Long also have influenced Trash Island's sound. The result of these influences is a fascinating blend of catchy riffs and complex song structures that manage to translate the atmosphere of true, gritty rock 'n' roll for the fine-tuned ears of the 21st century. While their 2011 debut release WE HAVE FUN is a pleasant listen, Trash Island has definitely gotten tighter and grittier for their live shows.

"I think we're just less willing to play crappy shows and less willing to make shitty recordings now," McMahan laughs.

With all of its members under two decades old, the band has only recently been allowed the freedom that being of legal age provides -- a freedom that has granted Trash Island access to a plethora of venues that were previously unavailable. Before all of the members turned 18, the band was only able to play all-ages shows, which limited them to a select few venues. However, the four agree that despite its inherent disadvantages, the all-ages scene cultivates a strong sense of community.

"I love all-ages -- it's where I grew up," explains Groenewoud. But playing all-ages shows has major faults as well.

McMahan says, "I love it, but at the same time, it would just be nice if it was bigger . . . there's not a lot of people coming to shows. [But it's] kind of cool, it's the same people every time and you get really tight with those people. But sometimes it kind of sucks because it's hard to get all-ages shows."

For Trash Island's Sled Island performance at Undermountain on June 23, the four are playing with heartwarming garage-pop band Cable Knits, local chiptune savant Grayscreen and Edmonton's punk rock band SLATES. Trash Island will be bringing their own eclectic style to this performance, but are remaining secretive about their outfits of choice.

"We'll be looking good," assures Groenewoud. "But it's kind of a secret right now."

Brought up by Calgarian music, Trash Island is one of the many young bands set to inherit the city's rock 'n' roll legacy. And with such an early start, it is safe to say that the story of these four artists has only just begun.

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