Fredericton’s Wicked Vices have worked their way through numerous challenges over the past twelve months to come out on top with a new album in the can and the new single ‘Butterfly’, released today.
It’s been said that musicians were among the first to lose their jobs when COVID-19 arrived, and they’ll most likely be the last to go back to work when things calm down. Whatever way you look at it, that’s a harsh reality to be dealing with. But while many musicians were caught off guard by the events of March 2020, others were better prepared. Somewhat.
Fredericton’s Wicked Vices are a good example. The group had been battling their way through a series of setbacks long before COVID hit. Much of 2019 was spent trying to work a new member into the fold only to have things eventually fall apart. And shortly after that, a series of setbacks led to the cancellation of a string of performances. 2019 had proven to be a tough go for the Fredericton four-piece.
“Last spring we took on a new guitarist and spent a lot of time getting them worked in. As you can imagine, after four years developing a strong core group of musicians, there were definitely some hurdles trying to work someone new into the fold. Unfortunately, style and personalities didn’t really mesh so after seven or eight months invested in that process, we decided it wasn’t working,” said vocalist Kristen Vautour.
“Then in the fall of 2019, we had a mini tour booked and due to some personal health issues between us and a few personal dilemmas, we ended up having to cancel those four shows,” she said. “As a band that is trying to get invited to play in a small area like Atlantic Canada, having to cancel dates doesn’t look great on you. We’re hyper aware of the optics and how this reflects on us, so at the end of 2019 we were all feeling a little down in the dumps.”
But it’s not like the band’s luck completely hit the gutter. Thankfully. Near the end of last year they found the musician they had been looking for in guitarist Joel Dixon (The Waking Night, Burning Coast). Around the same time they also found out they’d be getting a grant to help record their full-length debut.
“Our ability to be friends through all of this and enjoy each other’s company beyond working as a band has helped make us a better band. That’s not something I take for granted.”
“Joel joined the band around the end of November and it clicked right out of the gate,” said Vautour. “It felt really natural. He fit into what we were doing immediately and quickly helped heighten a lot of songs we thought we had figured out. That’s when things started to pick up and turn back around for us.”
Wicked Vices wrapped up a particularly difficult year on a high note debuting their five-member lineup with a show at The Red Herring in St. Andrews. So when COVID arrived a few months later and the world came to a screeching halt, the band was feeling stronger than ever, like they were ready for anything.
“Our ability to be friends through all of this and enjoy each other’s company beyond working as a band has helped make us a better band,” said Vautour. “That’s not something I take for granted.
“I think we did really great staying in touch during the height of COVID,” she said. “Typically we would get together and jam in my basement but with COVID we weren’t doing that obviously. But we still got together every Friday night on a video call and had a few pops and just got to connect on a friendship level. That was important.”
Vautour, together with bandmates Chris Hawkins, Geoff MacDonald, Ryan Barrie and Joel Dixon, also used their COVID downtime to plot their new album. As soon as restrictions began lifting, they had a plan in place and entered the studio.
“We’ve been working on a record for a while,” said Vautour. “We found out we were getting a grant from Music NB and basically started going into the studio as soon as the COVID restrictions began to lift. We started in early June and by the end of July we sent it off to get mastered. We’re hoping to get that out in early 2021.”
Today the band released the first single from the album. ‘Butterfly’ brings a whole new energy to the band with tempos well above the comfort zone established on their debut, self-titled EP. It’s an uplifting song full of big hooks and a strong indication of good things to come.