You’ve heard the name, you’ve seen the logo and you’ve probably wondered: what/who the hell is Heavy Trip ? Is it a band? Is it a festival? Is it a label?
Tired of wondering, we went straight to the source. Meet, Michaël Bardier: founder and president of Montreal’s newest agency, one that has been making its mark on the music industry all over Quebec, Canada and the rest of the world.
Heavy Trip was created a year ago, after Bardier decided to leave Dare To Care Records to start his own booking agency. Growing up with a penchant for alternative and punk music, shows were never out of reach. Seeking out new artists was always encouraged, heck, even playing in a few bands was part of the norm. It’s a mindset he grew up with and one he never quite got away from. After gaining some personal and professional experience in the industry, it soon became evident that in Montreal, discovering new music is almost as easy as breathing. All you really have to do is step out of your house: it’ll be right in front of you (Or you know, if you’re that lazy, pick up your phone and go on Facebook). The overwhelming amount of bands constantly booked by the even more overwhelming number of promoters makes it simple, and there’s always a new flavour of the week to check out and keep you interested. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case when you step off the island. A band who’ll repeatedly sell out venues in the city might very well play for a near desolate crowd elsewhere. According to Bardier, things tend to stay very secluded in little areas of our dear province (amongst others) and many of our great artists aren’t known beyond the rivers. So, Heavy Trip‘s initial driving force was to expose local artists outside of Montreal, targeting various regions of the province. It’s not that there was a specific need for such a promoter, because really, when you don’t know what’s out there, how can you know what you’re missing? But that didn’t stop Bardier, who decided to shake the Chicoutimis, the Trois-Rivières and the Shawinigans of the region and give them a taste of what was going on in La Métropole. The demand wasn’t there initially, but he created one. And all seemed to get on board fairly quickly.
Though exposing local bands to regions only a handful of miles away seems to be Heavy Trip‘s primary target, it is not. The goal here isn’t to promote bands in the province alone, it is to promote Montreal artists and their music everywhere. Period. No territory is out of reach for the founder, having already booked shows elsewhere in Canada, the United-States and even in Europe. After only a year, Heavy Trip is already eager to cover more land. So don’t be surprised if your favourite local bands get booked in Australia or even in Asia.
So which bands are we talking about here? Well, even though Heavy Trip is currently a one man show, the agency already has a handful of the best local bands signed on, such as Alaclair Ensemble, Duchess Says, PyPy, The Posterz and We are Wolves, to name a few. On top of that, Bardier single handedly manages two bands: Solids and the currently red-hot Heat. Impressed yet? We are.
The name itself tends to confused. After only a few minutes into the interview, it became very clear that contrary to what we may think, “Heavy Trip” is in no way limited to promoting the “heavy metal” genre of music. So, why the name? Along with similar agencies (High Road, Ground Control, etc..) Bardier wanted the notion of “conquering more ground” or even “touring, going on an adventure” to be reflected in the name. The term heavy is there to give it both ballsy and hippyish connotations.
For somebody who makes a living out of putting on shows, we had to ask: what makes a show… good? Bardier puts it elegantly: It isn’t an exact science but a good mix certain key elements: good, tight tunes, minimal rambling and looking the part in terms of attire. But the most important thing: “Less is More*” he says. “Don’t overdo it. Your music is number one”.
Another key thing new bands should keep in mind: experience. Bardier recommends that all bands play a great amount of shows. Everywhere. Even if there are only 2 or 3 people in the crowd, the experience you get from playing in various, different settings is priceless.
Last but not least: tune your instruments. Not with your ear, but with a tuner. This is an all too frequent mistake bands tend to make on stage.
Just for kicks, and certainly not because he lacks talent to promote, we asked the founder which band he would love to take on. Without hesitation, the word Suuns was uttered. According to Bardier, the four rockers make up,one of Quebec’s very best bands, whose unique sound could potentially reach millions outside the province. Bands with that kind of potential is exactly catches Bardier‘s eye. *Hint. Hint*
Come celebrate Heavy Trip‘s first year anniversary this Thursday, December 4th @ Piccolo Rialto. Performances by Duchess Says, Chocolat, Solids and Alaclair Ensemble.
*Anyone who quotes my favourite architect is legit in my book.
About Caroline Royer
NUMTL Founder and Editor-in-chief, Caroline is an Ottawa-born Montrealer who has spent the better part of her life playing and listening to music. Otherwise, she is a diehard Sens fan, freakishly into architecture and industrial design and terrible at staying put for more than 5 minutes.