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Stance up 

Garage meets R&B in the form of upstart Halifax quartet The Stance. Matt Charlton gets the deets on the new EP.

Fuck The Stance.

The slogan has been showing up on curb-sides and mail boxes around the city. Directed at Halifax-based rockers The Stance, it would seem the up and coming band has found some vocal opposition right out of the gate.

“Someone else made it, they don’t like us,” says singer Mark MacAulay.

“It’s so good though, it’s totally something we would have done,” says his brother and guitar player James.

“It’s pretty much all I yell when I’m drunk anyway,” adds Mark.

Made up of the MacAulay brothers, along with bass player Jeff Leadbetter and drummer Matt Nicoll, The Stance started making music together over a year ago. Fusing their collective influences into a merger of Nuggets-esque garage rock and Motown grooves, they have been performing to an ever-growing crowd and reputability.

The upcoming release of their debut EP at The North End Pub on August 11 will mark the end of a grueling four months of recording. Still, as the band discusses the process, it seems equally close to a congratulatory group hug as a fist fight.

“I think we can make a decree that we will never self-record again,” says Mark. Recording between the MacAulays’ parents’ basement and the group’s apartment, the sessions were hampered by a mixture of picky ears, lack of technical know-how and sketchy gear.

“The recording is pretty minimal, but we just didn’t know how to do anything,” says James.

“It was three or four people who don’t know about the process of recording,” adds Mark. “We ended up spending months and months going around in circles, yelling at each other.”

The end result?

“For a self-recorded album…” starts James.

“…it sounds amazing,” finishes Mark.

It’s this dynamic between the MacAulays that fuels both the band’s image and sound. With James’ upfront conversational manner and Mark’s laid-back sarcasm, the two create the kind of palpable tension that is at the core of the best creative duos…and the most dysfunctional ones as well.

This edge is even more apparent as Mark, the primary songwriter, speaks of the band’s adaptation of his songs.

“It’s insulting in a way,” he says, with tongue seemingly only somewhat in cheek. “What are you gonna do though, I don’t play an instrument.”

“He does play an instrument,” says James.

“Yeah, but I’m not permitted to play an instrument in the band,” Mark rebuts.

While the dynamic could be its downfall in the end, at the moment it’s the kind of ego battle that only propels the band’s creative output. Accordingly, it has been a long time since a local group has shown up on the scene with as complete a package as The Stance. From their disheveled appearance to their raucous live shows, everything about them seems to effortlessly land on a single train of thought.

In the development of this image, the band’s debut EP, The Stance Shall Inherit the Earth, is the ultimate accessory. The disc’s five songs deliver a decidedly retro sound, not as much in technique, but in spirit. While opener, “I Need A Reason,” delivers the album’s biggest hook, it’s in the smaller moments, like the call of “I’m gonna try a little harder tonight” in “Kiss Me Kiss Me” that the band’s true potential becomes apparent. There’s an energy at play in the songs that is the “It” so often described but seldom achieved. While the group is still honing the mountain of potential it has, this is an offering that should inspire all the confidence needed that they’ll get there in due time.

Judging by the weary look on Matt’s face and the frantic motions from Jeff for the MacAulays to cut short a story about the possible motive for the Fuck The Stance stencils, it’s going to be a bumpy road—one that will be worth watching at every twist and turn.

The stance cd release w/the stolen minks and the maynards, august 11, the north end pub, 2776 gottingen, 10pm, $5.

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