You know a band has potential when they can fill a dance floor on a Monday night while being short a key member. That is exactly what up-and-coming funksters The New Souls did as they played a free show at Felicita’s on Jan. 7. Theirs was a slick set of almost all originals — the product of their tenacity and hard work as young musicians.
“It’s just us and The Chantrelles,” said 22-year-old percussionist Sean Thompson of the breadth of the funk scene in Victoria.
“And The New Groovement,” added Nick Mintenko, 20, the Souls’ bass player. Frontman and vocalist Greg Baan-Meiklejohn, 19, was both optimistic and modest about the group’s ambitions. “We just want to be an up-and-coming funk, soul, R&B, indie band and see how far that takes us.”
The group began conceptually in June 2012 with “the true foundation [being] laid in July,” according to Thompson. Aside from Baan-Meiklejohn, Thompson and Mintenko, Dakota Hoeppner, 21, and Kali Moreno, 18, are also founding members, with Hoeppner on keys and Moreno (the missing link at the Felicita’s show) sharing vocal duties with Baan-Meiklejohn. In September, 28-year-old guitarist Chris Neal joined the band, replacing guitarist Kiaran McMillan as the latter left the band to tour with Victoria-based theatre company Atomic Vaudeville.
“I went to a bunch of their shows, and I knew they were going to need a new guitar-player at some point,” said Neal, “and I thought, ‘I could help.’ ”
But this is not the first time these swing -groove architects have shared the stage together. Baan-Meiklejohn, Neal and Mintenko are current members of popular funk cover band The Midnights, a group that landed the prestigious gig of opening for the Victoria Symphony Orchestra on Canada Day. Mintenko was keen to address the importance of playing in The Midnights and its relation to the Souls’ creative ambition. “I think about the shows The Midnights have played — such as the Blues Bash and at The Empress Hotel — and I think The New Souls could do just as well.”
The band will soon have a symbol of their ambition in the form of a five-song EP recorded at Infinity Studios with Adam Sutherland. The bandmates agree that Neal did the legwork for the EP.
“Adam facilitated the space for us and helped us out with the mics,” said Thompson, “but [Neal] basically engineered it, and that was great. Infinity has a great sound.” With the recording process now complete, Neal is beginning mastering work. Tour plans are stewing for the summer, though a release date has yet to be decided on.
The band was quick to relay the importance of earnestness and authenticity on and off the stage as they progress. “I have the time of day for everyone and anyone who wants to talk to me about the show or my singing,” said Baan-Meiklejohn. “It’s important for me to give 150 per cent, or you aren’t getting your money’s worth.”
The New Souls
Musical guests at The Chantrelles’ CD release party, with Bobby D and His Lovers
Feb. 7 @ 10 p.m. • Upstairs Cabaret • $8
Tickets available at Lyle’s Place, Ditch
Records, Ticketzone.com and at the door