Grand Theft Bus
Ridin’ with the Bus
When asked about local music and what the Maritimes has to offer, it gives
me two feelings. One feeling tells me that this person has been musically
deprived and living in seclusion for the past 5 years. The second is they
aren’t from here originally and have no understanding of how big the scene
here really is. So when it comes to giving them a response, it usually
covers many of the local talent, quick descriptions of what to expect from
groups like Fat Jebus, The Jimmy Swift Band and Slowcoaster. Then I give
them the cherry on top of a musical ice cream sundae; Grand Theft Bus, the
sweetest thing coming out of the Maritime scene.
In December of 2000, Graeme (bass) and Tim Walker (guitar) and drummer Bob
Deveau, former bandmates decided to suit up again and get something started.
"We decided to get a band going again. I met Dennis at work and
it all began then and there." Dennis Goodwin (guitar, keys) was the final
piece to the puzzle that became Grand Theft Bus. "We played for the first
time at a house party, a sort of unofficial first show," Dennis said. "Our
first real official gig was at the Cellar for a staff party." They didn’t
have any originals so they just got up and jammed. "We only played six
songs, and we stretched them out. It was fun, we just jammed. It was a
The scene was set and since late 2000, Grand Theft Bus has been riding on a
runaway train of over 300 shows and the formation of a large following of
dedicated fans. "The fact that people are willing to come back time and
time again to support the music shows dedication," Graeme said. The fan
support for the Bus is large, usually selling out shows at many of the
popular maritime clubs, including the Cellar on the campus of the University
of New Brunswick. "The Cellar is what we consider our home," said Tim. And it holds true as they
play the Cellar on a regular basis, residing in Fredericton.
Their Maritime success led them to tour across Canada this past summer for
the first time. "It was a great experience. We were on the road for 6
weeks straight, coast to coast," said Graeme. "It was a long trip, but fun. We played some of our best shows musically. Sometimes there weren’t a lot
of people at the shows, but it never bothered us, we just wanted to play."
Dennis added that it wasn’t just about entertaining the crowd, but that it
was also about growth as a band and as musicians.
This past year has also brought them across the border to our neighbors to
the south, hitting a few dates in the North-East, including the North East
Kingdom Music Festival. "We played a few gigs in New York and Boston. Not
many people came to see the shows, but those that were there were very
responsive to the music," Said Tim. They played the NKMF the same weekend
that Phish hosted the IT festival in Limestone, Maine. "We had two time
slots and we were well received." They played that weekend with past Evolve
artists The Slip, Drums and Tuba and fellow Canadians the New Deal.
The music of Grand Theft Bus covers a wide range of musical styles. "We
are influenced by everything and anything around us," said Dennis. "We
label ourselves as rock and roll to avoid any sort of confusion." The
jamband label has been tossed onto the table when considering the style of
music they play. "The jamband title is irrelevant, it doesn’t really mean
anything, Graeme said. "The jamband title does not classify the style of
music. A jamband can play any style of music, it doesn’t really matter,"
Dennis added to the point. They were more than elated about the community
that has grown around that title of ‘jamband’, and they are grateful that it
is there. "It’s a great community that helps promote through word of mouth
and gives fans an organized place to find out about the music," said Graeme.
They created a large following so quickly, just on the basis of live shows
and concerts. They allow recording of their shows for the distribution for
free use, fueling the Bus-demonium and increasing their popularity. This
brushfire of acceptance of their music by the fans brought us their freshman
effort, Birth of Confusion. The album was widely accepted by fans and
critics alike, and the massive promotion nation-wide over the past year has
brought them to new levels. "Our fans are so dedicated to us, it is unreal. The energy they give us on stages takes us to new levels musically, it’s
fantastic," Tim said, with the support of his band mates.
From the opening snare rolls from Bob on "Don’t treat me Like
That" to the spacey, intricately constructed grooves in "Methuo" and "Street
Sleeper" Birth of Confusion the album reflects Grand Theft Bus
in a setting that’s not the stage, while still capturing the feel of their
stage show. Tracks like "Weight of Circumstance" and "Tanktop" give you
that live feeling.
It is almost a year since they released Birth of Confusion and they have
already begun plans for their sophomore album. "We start recording January
5th," Said Graeme. "We will be self producing the album and the sound
engineering will be done by Laurence Currie." Currie has a history with the
band, being involved in the recording and production of Birth of Confusion.
"Laurence is has an excellent mind for production." The album will most
likely feature new tracks, including some that have been found in their live
repertoire as of late, but the track list is unknown at this time. "We’re
just gonna go in their and freak out and play and come out with an album,"
Grand Theft Bus has become a driving force in Canada, giving momentum to the
scene nationally, and to the Evolve Festival. Located in Antigonish, Nova
Scotia, Evolve has grown from an Atlantic festival for Canadian talent to a
nationally recognized festival, which this year featured Medeski, Martin and
Wood as the headliner. "It’s a great festival and we are always excited to
play. It’s a weekend where we get to be with all our friends (referring to
the fans). It was great having MMW there this year, its really going to be
big in the next couple of years," said Tim. Evolve 4 was filmed and will be
turned into a DVD in the near future.
The next little while for Grand Theft Bus holds a lot of uncertainty and a
lot of aspirations. "I’d like to go to Europe in the spring," said Tim.
"With a second album under our belt, it would be a great experience, both
musically and on a personal level. Until then Grand Theft Bus will be
touring the Maritimes, and the Ontario/Quebec region. They will be doing
a rip in Canada with Philadelphia’s Brothers Past in December. The Bus
will be back across the border in February of next year to entertain our
friends to the south.