Kamloops indie rock kings Van Damsel breaking up - InfoNews

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Kamloops indie rock kings Van Damsel breaking up

Van Damsel playing on tour. Left to right guitarist Rich Bregoliss, and singer Sebastien Ste Marie, drummer Matthew Barron and bassist Matthew “Renny” Rennehan.
November 17, 2016 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - Van Damsel, arguably Kamloops’s most famous musical export, are calling it quits.

The quartet of indie rockers grew up in Kamloops, started playing together in high school and formed Van Damsel seven year ago. Now, as the members near the age of 30, the four are going their separate ways, with a final show on Dec. 9.

Lead singer Sebastien Ste. Marie says the split, which was announced on Facebook, is amicable as the friends have different goals at this point in life.

“We’re calling it a day,” he says. “We feel like it’s time to spread our wings a bit and really experience something different and strange.”

The band released their first full length album, named after the band, in April. The single Best of Everything charted up to 37 the Billboard’s Canadian Rock charts. The band also had success in indie music circles, participated in Toronto’s Canadian Music Week festival and finished third in the 2015 edition of the Peak Performance Project.

Throughout their run, Van Damsel stayed based in Kamloops. Ste. Marie says the band was never able to find a time to move to a bigger city with a larger music scene with four band members and their partners.

“It’s complicated, it’s tricky being in a band,” he says. “It’s a bit like a marriage except there’s four of us with our own aspirations.”

Left to right and singer Sebastien Ste Marie, drummer Matthew Barron and bassist Matthew “Renny” Rennehan.
Left to right and singer Sebastien Ste Marie, drummer Matthew Barron and bassist Matthew “Renny” Rennehan.

Those aspirations have diverged, he says, and drummer Matt Barron agrees. Both are planning long trips in the new year, gone for at least a year each, with Ste. Marie looking at Asia and Barron to South America.

“It’s something that I’ve always had this hankering for, I’ve always wanted to go travelling,” Barron says. “I went to Japan this year; it let me know I need to get out of Kamloops, out of Canada.”

Both see the music industry as a difficult way to make a career. With their full length album they made a go of it, but the results, while positive, weren’t enough to keep them afloat. Ste. Marie says they built a team and toured following the album's release, but they decided recently to no longer pursue the band.

“We wanted to take Van Damsel to the point where we could quit our day jobs and live off of Van Damsel,” Barron says. “Being a Canadian-based band it’s difficult to break out.”

“We were an alt rock band in a hip hop pop world,” Ste. Marie says. “There’s not the sort of revenue from sales right now and there’s a lot of great artists out there."

"We had to make the decision how much further and some of us ultimately want to try something different."

They expect to stay involved with music in a some way in the future, and Ste. Marie says he thinks bassist Matthew "Renny" Rennehan and guitarist Rich Bregoliss will be involved in their own projects.

"Keep an eye out for individual projects," he says. "We’ll all be involved in music in some way."

The band is thankful to their fans who’ve followed them and anyone who spent time listening to their music, Ste. Marie says.

“It’s been really nice to see people actually take an interest in our band,” Barron says. “That’s something any artist feels good about, when people care about what your doing.”

The band’s final show is Dec. 9 at Cactus Jacks. Tickets are $7.50.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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