For the past year, the name Alkatine has been gaining strength around the Calgary music scene. And for good reason: the rock band has been taking the city by storm, playing high-energy shows and earning legions of fans with each turn. With the buzz they’ve already created and the exciting prospects for the near future, Alkatine doesn’t need a crystal ball to see that they’re on their way to huge success, something that just seems to follow them everywhere they go.
2011 has been an exciting year for Alkatine. Typically playing two shows per week to great crowds, the guys have been all over Calgary and beyond, reaching huge milestones and accomplishments for young guys barely out of high school.
By late June, Alkatine is already beaming over the success they’ve had this year. “We’ve already done a lot,” says drummer Doug Pocasangre. “Playing Beerfest was huge. That was amazing, getting to play there. … We’ve had shows outside of the city, Canmore, High River, [and] we’re doing Vancouver in the summer. … And we just got Penny, too, like eight days ago.”
“Penny” is the band’s new van, a white beast of a girl that seems more like a small apartment on wheels. It is in Penny that the boys are discussing music, the band, and the future on a warm Thursday evening, just hours before jumping onstage at Calgary’s Dickens Pub. The band’s energy is contagious, and the conversation is punctuated by laughter, flowing smoothly from one topic to the next. Taking turns throughout the banter are Doug, lead vocalist Brady (Ripper) Riplinger, guitarist Kurtis Lovas, and bass player Blair Lilley. These guys are fun, and they’re so open and inviting that it’s hard to not love them. Practically finishing each other’s sentences, they show incredible chemistry and a strong connection rarely found among four people.
On how they came together, the boys are thankful. “Me and Doug started playing together in grade nine … in guitar class,” reflects Kurtis. “And then it just built from there. We had a band, we had a few gigs. … It broke up, and then we recruited Blair on bass, took him away from sports and converted him to music.”
Brady adds, “Then by the grace of something Kurtis and I met each other and just formed something that I think is so hard to find anywhere else… It was too good to be true.”
“It was a solid fit,” agrees Kurtis. “We were all so comfortable with each other.”
The way they look at it, their relationship is like a big happy marriage, and as a thoughtful Brady suggests, the boys have been lucky to come together in such a fateful way.
Regarding their success, however, “lucky” might not be the word to use. Alkatine’s success is well-deserved, and has been earned over months of hard work. In the works now is their first album, to be released later this year. The album has been a labour of love for the group, and they are in no rush to force its completion. “We’d rather put out good quality than just something to listen to,” stresses Blair, and while the band knows that fans are excited, they are taking extra time to finish the process. As Doug emphasizes, “We want to be proud of it, not just produce something that’s half-assed.”
At the same time, fans have a reason to be excited for the release of Alkatine’s first album. They’ve enlisted the help of Calgary producer and recording engineer Brad Taylor, who has also worked with Alkatine’s friends and other well-known local band Black Phoenix Orchestra (BPO). Brad’s approach to recording fits right in with Alkatine’s style, and they have been working hard to perfect and polish the band’s first official release. “Brad’s a cool guy. … You can’t really work with somebody you can’t hang out with, but we can go to the bar and have drinks and it’s cool,” says Doug, adding that Brad’s efforts and patience have pushed Alkatine to create an album they’re proud of. The guys all agree that they have been lucky to connect with Brad, and look forward to the final product. “The wait is worth it,” promises Kurtis.
In the meantime, Alkatine has a lot going on. They’ve got shows booked throughout the summer, including a mud-wrestling show at The Blind Beggar during Stampede and a western road trip at the end of July. They’re also opening for Throne of Vengeance on August 5 when the metal band returns from their cross-country tour. Fans of Alkatine have a lot to look forward to this summer, and the band is ready to prove why they’re seen as the next big thing.
Despite this year’s accomplishments, the boys are still humble and modest, and are proud of their success, if not a bit surprised. But lead singer Brady is quick to point out that they’re not done yet: “We’re in this for life,” he says, a slow smile stretching across his face. “And we’re not going to stop.”