Photo by Katherine Gibb.
Local band Tiananmen Square Dance has been starting to break out on the Peterborough musical scene, coming third at the Battle of the Bands and with two upcoming shows alongside some of Peterborough’s favourite homegrown bands.
They played at The Spill on September 13 (pictured), with fellow Trent bands Watershed Hour and White Crowleys. On September 21, they play their first show at the Pig’s Ear with Trent’s I, the Mountain.
The band, comprised of four Trent students who also share a house, met in residence first year in Otonabee College. They started playing at acoustic nights together before forming a definitive band at the Battle of the Bands their first year.
Tiananmen Square Dance defines themselves on their Facebook page as “psychedelic sex funk”. However, as guitarist and vocalist Dane Hansen elaborated, they play “rock and roll funk, reggae, punk, with some noise thrown in.”
Their eclectic name was inherited from a friend who hoped to use it for a metal band. “A buddy of ours came up with it,” vocalist and bassist Jeff Campbell explained. “We paid him a case of beer for it. Well, we were supposed to pay a case of beer for it…”
“We laughed once,” said Dane, and it just stuck.
Their primary influence is a love of partying. Musically, “we’re all over the map” they say, listening to a variety of musical genres from metal, to punk rock, to country and electronic.
“I like classical too!” drummer Ryan Harrison remarked.
Humour is crucial with the band, whose Facebook profile picture features the art of Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam. “We like to make each other laugh.”
“I think that’s the key to us. [Music] is supposed to be fun,” said Dane.
They are also big believers in their charitable cause, the DMF. “When we were playing an acoustic show at The Spill,” Dane explained, “it was pay-what-you-can and the guy on the door took a bunch of the money. So we started putting up signs asking to donate for the Drunk Musician Foundation.”
“We like to party but we don’t have any money,” said Jeff.
All the boys come from backgrounds of loving music. “My dad’s a multi-instrumentalist,” explained Jeff, “so finding an instrument to focus on was more of a challenge than getting into music.”
Carson Mackie, on the other hand, started his musical career on the prestigious pots and pans. Then, he spent his time jumping around between different instruments before settling into playing keys and synth for the band.
When asked if they were studying music at Trent, Dane admitted “we all would if we had the option.” For those who haven’t looked into the prospect, it turns out Trent does not offer any music classes, let alone a program to emphasize in. This is surprising, given the amount of musical talent in Peterborough.
For the songwriting process, the guys keep it mostly organic. “Sometimes we just go up and jam. Often Jeff or I come in with a mostly complete song and [we all] jam and make it something totally different.” Dane explained.
And where would they like to see themselves go from here? “The Beer Store,” one of the guys joked.
Dane explained how, after establishing a fan-base in Peterborough, they are looking to play shows further afield.”We recently played in the Big Metropolis of Brighton in an old barn.”
They are also working on converting their attic space into a studio, meaning that they could have recordings in the near future.
“Come to our shows so we can eat,” said Carson.
Ryan added, “No one’s ever had a bad time.”