Pye is overwhelmed with Feelings

Geoffrey Pye’s super alter-ego swells to triple strength with a new album under a new name, the Yellow Jacket Avenger Trio.

Geoffrey Pye is the quintessential modern Haligonian. Gone are the days of family trees that stretch back generations. That tradition is certainly not in danger of disappearing but, more and more, Haligonians come for school and just end up staying. Pye fits this mould perfectly. Originally from Ottawa (with a stopover in Toronto) he had intentions of attending one of the city’s universities, but never did, and he’s never really left. Though bandmate Chris Pennell contends it was Salvatore’s meatball hero sandwich that tipped the scales, it’s a safe bet that the city’s music scene played some role in the decision to stay. 

When he moved here six years ago, Pye brought with him his musical alter-ego, the Yellow Jacket Avenger. Like his superhero namesake, he’s flown under the radar of popular consciousness for the past decade and a half, writing and recording under the moniker in his bedroom, with sporadic live performances accompanied by a revolving door of bandmates. The latest incarnation, the Yellow Jacket Avenger Trio, release their first record Friday with a gig at Ginger’s Tavern.

Feelings: The Record was completed more than a year-and-a-half ago, after a marathon three-week session at The Echo Chamber. It has been sitting on the shelf since then, waiting for the band’s members to clear their respective schedules, in order to give it the attention it deserves. “We all want to go do something, go away for five days to Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and try and get really cool shows with our friends so that we’re not going out there for nothing,” says Pennell. “We don’t want to play to 10 people. We’ve all experienced it and it’s just not worth it.” Pye adds, “That gets a little depressing, the older you get.” Both Pye and Pennell admit that it is a bit strange to be revisiting the album after all this time, but sending it out into the world will be a relief, says Pennell. “We all want to get it out so we can stop nitpicking. Once it’s shrink-wrapped and in the case, you can’t do anything about it.”

As a teenager Pye picked up on the DIY aesthetic that has been so prevalent within the Halifax scene since day one: An aesthetic where records are recorded, manufactured and distributed by hand, in a bubble far away from any kind of corporate machinery. While both he and Pennell say it was adopted mostly from necessity, Pennell, who grew up in Dartmouth, admits that it’s something they probably absorbed from their heroes and influences as well. “For me it was just being in Halifax,” he says. “All those bands all did their own records, screenprinting their actual record, glueing it together.” Pye points to The Replacements and Talking Heads as his major sources of inspiration, both bands that had to carve out their own scenes. “Mind you, I don’t have the patience to really do that,” says Pennell. “We’re actually, really, really lazy when it comes down to it,” says Pye, joking. 

Pye now has a family here (dark lines are streaked across the bottom of his eyes, the product of his six-week-old child keeping him up at night) and seems to have few intentions of uprooting that unit any time soon. “I kind of honestly have a love-hate relationship,” he says. “When you think of it, this is really a small town.” Of course, it’s that very fact that makes Halifax’s cultural accomplishments so refreshing. “We have a lot of stuff for a place that’s not very big,” says Pennell. He’s seen first-hand the steady rotation of live-music venues open and close over the years. “You can see live music almost every night.”

While it seems as if the Yellow Jacket Avenger Trio isn’t quite as dedicated to the lifestyle of the touring band as many of their heroes were, their ambitions aren’t as lofty as them either. “We want to have a pretty cool live following in Halifax,” says Pennell. To be able to play every couple of months and have a couple hundred people show up is all that the band asks for, perhaps the most Haligonian sentiment a band can have.

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