Fresh off the last day of high school, local band Stained Glass Army is heading to Montreal to headline the Semi-Final Showcase Festival Saturday at Le National.The band of only two years won the top spot after performing at a Landmark Events competition at Toronto’s Mod Club in January. The band – lead singer/guitarist Kyle Wilton, bassist Trevor Bowman, guitarist Mitchell McCloy, and drummer Carter Leis – released two singles on May 10, “Suburban Ruffian” and “24/7,” after gaining valuable recording time from their win.
Wilton said this will be their largest crowd for a show, aside from performing at EDSS for the final assembly. They expect around 750 to be at the concert.
“Plus it’s online, so there could be however many people watching online,” said Leis.
The Elmira band also got a chance to speak with the judges after their win. Wilton said they commended the boys on their performance and how well they played for their age. They said a lot of bands play, but don’t move around.
“They said that they liked our enthusiasm and excitement on stage,” said Wilton. “They said it shows we enjoy what we’re doing, being young also helped us out a lot.”
Leis added, “also they enjoyed the songs that we wrote and played.”
In preparation for the show, the band has been practicing twice a week and writing new songs. They’ve been playing more shows and getting lots of exposure, Wilton said. They’ll be playing one of their new songs at the show.
“Playing the show is going to be super fun, the opportunity to play a show, not necessarily out of your city or area, but out of the province,” said McCloy.
Wilton said it’s an interesting experience because they’re used to going to Toronto shows in awe of the featured artists, and now that will be them. He said he’s excited to see what people think of their sound.
“It kind of makes you more nervous in a way because they’re going to be looking at you like ‘these guys won,’” said Leis.
When it comes to nerves, the boys say they’re nervous right until the moment they play the first note. After that, they’re in the zone. Wilton said they usually do some warm-ups, chat, maybe jump around right before they go on to shake out the nerves.
Despite being the lead singer, Wilton said public speaking is a fear of his.
“I can’t public speak,” said Wilton. “I’m afraid. I can sing in front of 500 people but I can’t public speak in front of 10.”
He said once they start playing he becomes the persona he’s trying to get across and he doesn’t really think about what he’s doing. He says the more they think on stage, the worse they play.
“You’ve got to have confidence in your abilities,” said Leis.
Bowman said when he performs it’s like he’s not himself anymore. He says on stage he takes on an alternate band persona.
“When I’m out in public I’m not super outgoing, but on stage I jump around, just have fun with it,” said Bowman.
As for the band’s progress, they say they’ve come a long way in playing, performing, and writing. Bowman had only been playing bass a few months before the band came together.
“Writing is a big thing,” said Wilton. “You suck at writing when you first start. Writing is the one thing that I’ve noticed.”
Leis adds, “and our cohesiveness on stage. When we started we did not move at all.”
They will also be playing the opening day of Big Music Fest in Kitchener in July, a weekend event headlined by Aerosmith and Bryan Adams. They were one of 25 bands chosen from Ontario to perform.
Wilton, Leis, and Bowman have known each other since kindergarten, while McCloy joined the band late last summer. Wilton and Bowman decided in Grade 8 they wanted to start playing instruments. Leis has been playing drums for seven years and McCloy’s been playing guitar for 10.
“We just decided to practice a few songs, do a few covers, try writing a song or two, and then we had a little show at Carter’s church,” said Wilton.
They’ve noticed their fan base grow by playing shows with more bands and talking to promoters who come out to shows.
“We always notice it just generally goes up after you play a show, especially when you play bigger shows,” said Bowman. “When we played the Landmark ones we noticed that there was a pretty big spike in fans.”
Some of their musical influences include Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Billy Talent.
They hope to continue playing music professionally. McCloy will be attending Fanshawe College in the fall, while the other three will return to EDSS for a semester.
“In the end we’d love to do that,” said Wilton. “It’s hard, but we’ll try.”