Kamloops, B.C. rock trio, The Decoys, are busy spreading their west coast hype, as they blaze a trail across Canada in support of their sophomore album, In Our Blood, released mid April of this year.
Singer/songwriter, Matt Stanley, formed the band in 2008 to showcase the release of his first effort, Life And Times EP. The band has since evolved into the current power trio of Stanley on guitar/harmonica/lead vocals, Sean Poissant (drums), and newest member, Sean Schneider (bass/bkg vox), who has joined them on their current tour. I sat down with Stanley to discuss the band…then and now.
“In 2008, I released an EP called, Life And Times. I put a band together and the idea was that we were going to promote it under my name, so at the time we were called, Matt Stanley & The Decoys. Over time, the band evolved, and Sean joined us in 2010…he and I became partners in crime. A month into him being in the band, we put out our first full album, Stripped, Bare, & On Display (2011), still under Matt Stanley & The Decoys. We’ve written stuff together since then, and we definitely want to collaborate more. For instance, I might bring the song in…chord progression, the melody and lyric, but they help turn it into a song, and something that sounds like us.”
That sound is what has gotten me excited about this band. It’s added to the growing roster of bands/artists that are carrying the rock ‘n roll torch into the 21st century, whose songs are built from the essential 60’s/70’s classic rock influences, strong songwriting bones, and merged with their own distinctive brand of raw and fearless rock power.
“I love the 60’s/70’s music…that’s definitely the biggest thing. A lot of people refer to that music as classic rock, which I don’t really like…I don’t care for labels much. We’re new, we’re not classic…we certainly have those influences, but we’re really just a rock ‘n roll band. I love Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Neil Young with Crazy Horse, and those kind of influences. Neil Young has especially been an influence when it comes to navigating a career through music, being creative, and staying true to one’s vision and art. I like the fact that he’s got his hard rock albums, he has his folk albums, his country albums…and he also did all this new wave stuff in the 80’s. He did whatever he wanted to do. So that’s why this album has those folk music influences. Being a songwriter is the biggest thing for me…they’re my favourite people, especially bands that are based around a singer/songwriter aspect, like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, etc.”
The band’s current tour has had them travelling the farthest east they’ve ever been…to Ontario, where they performed several dates, including a stop at Ottawa’s Rainbow Bistro in the first week of May. They played unique adaptations of 60’s/70’s rock classics, along with original material from the past and present. Songs from their new album included their first single release, “Don’t Hesitate”, with its punk-rock fervor, tribal rhythm, vocals that switch from sexy-smooth to attitude-laden raspiness, and vibrant, head-banging guitar work.
“Wasting Your Time” brought me back to the 70’s easy rock, Todd Rundgren-styled songwriting, with its nice chord progressions, threaded in a completely enveloping and memorable melody that had me singing along by the second chorus.
If there was a song that demonstrated this Petty/Young combination in spades, it was their title track, “In Our Blood”, with its simple country/folk melody, flavoured with a ringing beat and gentle rocking guitar energy.
My favourite of the night, was the pop/rock vitality of “Alibi”, that moved in textures from a palm-muted, staccato-style guitar strumming rhythm in the verses, to bright, energetic power chords in the choruses, complimented by vocal dynamics to match. The song immediately pulled me in with its infectious melody, rhythm, and catchy chorus.
Cover song choices included a grittier version of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’, “Refugee”, a faster, pumped-up rendition of the Stones’, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, and a passion-fuelled arrangement of Led Zep’s, “Ramble On”, that showcased Stanley’s vocals and guitar prowess. “Heart Of Gold” clearly displayed the evidence of just how strong a Neil Young influence Stanley has, as he effortlessly and proficiently breezed through the song on guitar/harmonica, with vocals that dripped with a Jack White sort of edginess. He played it like it was ingrained in his blood…hence the album’s title.
In short, the new album showcases a diversity of styles, notable influences, and rock solid songwriting, while exhibiting a raw and exciting essence. It’s a must-add to any rock lover’s collection that serves any and every rock palette.
“Once we get home, we’ll be back at stuff we’ve been working on and plan to just keep going. We’re starting to see some results with the constant playing and travelling. The usual grassroots thing is happening, where people are coming from other towns to see us that have seen us before. We literally have been taking this music and band to every town to show people first-hand what we’re all about, and keep going back over and over. It’s comforting to know that rock ’n roll still has its place, and can still get people excited.”