Meet the band
Local Artist Spotlight: AHRF
AHRF is an all-Canadian indie rock band made up of childhood and college friends. With the upcoming release of their first studio LP, Extracurricularthe Fulcrum interviewed the local Ottawa band to find out more about who they are.
Band members Liam St. John (drummer), Miles Lawlor (vocalist and guitarist), Nick Lee (bassist), and James Feschuk (lead guitarist) all met at Nepean High School and later added Daniel Turenne (bassist ) to the group at the university. .
A group of young adults navigating life after college in a COVID-19 world, their music is reminiscent of that. Songs such as “I Hope My Degree Is Worth It”, “me.mp3” and “I Thought I’d Be Famous Now” all deal with these anxieties.
Feschuk had access to Raven Street Studio during the pandemic, which meant the band was able to reunite and start making music. The band used the studio as an “oasis” during lockdown, and the result was the creation of Extracurricular.
“It kind of came into place during COVID-19, when we were locked in our bedrooms and James had this crazy access to this studio space,” Lawlor said.
While Extracurricular is mostly indie-rock, there’s a wide variety of sounds used in the LP, from the light-hearted tones of “IF***ing Love The Boys”, reminiscent of The Strumbellas, to Iron-inspired “Bet On Me”. Maiden.
“I really think the songwriting and the lyrics have taken a step forward on this album,” said guitarist James.
This is clear when listening to the lyrics to the softer-sounding “me.mp3,” which talks about all the time spent online during the pandemic.
The album begins with the Nickelback-inspired song “Bückle Up”, with several voices shouting “get off stage” and “not that guy yet”.
“All of our music has been a bit ironic and that’s been a factor in that. It’s us making fun of ourselves. Obviously we take music seriously, but at the same time we want people to know that ‘they can just have a good time,’ Lee explained.
Keeping that tone, “IF***ing Love The Boys” is a classic indie song. According to Feschuk, it was the first song written for the album.
“We had this chord progression, and it sounded like a love song…So we decided to write a love song about boys,” Feschuk said.
“I Drank 6 Beers” follows in a heartfelt, funny and relatable tone focused on the band’s college years. It has a very upbeat sound reminiscent of early 2000s rock a la Blink-182. It features lyrics such as, “I ate my veggies today, but I drank 6 beers,” among others, some of which were written by singer Lawlor during a 10 a.m. Zoom conference.
In a change of pace, “me.mp3” is a slow rock song that leans into the pandemic and the reality of spending nearly every waking hour on some sort of screen to the point where it’s addicting. This song is vulnerable and honest with the audience in its lyrics.
“I kind of thought about how we’re addicted to our phones and then there’s this self-awareness and continuing to do that anyway,” bassist Turenne said.
“I Thought I’d Be Famous By Now” adds classic rock flair to the album. When asked if they thought they would be famous now, the group replied with a “yes!”
“I always thought I was going to be famous, even when I was little… I always thought it was going to be the writing, it was going to be the music, it was going to be something,” added St. John.
Featuring another acoustic spin, “I’m Scared To Try New Drugs” describes being surrounded by drugs and sometimes not being able to keep up. It features a distorted guitar out of tune during the recording, popping in at the end for a very distinct and vibrant sound.
After a short electric guitar interlude in “Joel P”, the album leads into “I Hope My Degree Is Worth It” and then picks up the tone to a classic upbeat indie sound. When asked if the band thought their degrees were worth it, the band again said “yes”.
“When those songs were written, you probably would have gotten a different response. If you asked me if my degree was worth it halfway through, I would say ‘I hope to God,’ because it’s fun, but also a nightmare,” Daniel said.
“Bet On Me”, the only song inspired by the sounds of heavy metal, showcases AHRF’s confidence and energy.
“It’s a song about giving yourself a little fake confidence,” Nick said.
The last song on the LP, “Through My Phone”, was written from someone else’s point of view. In this story-telling song, we follow “a weird guy who hangs out and spends way too much time online and sitting in front of his computer,” Miles explained.
You can follow AHRF’s journey on their Instagram.
Extracurricular is available on Spotify and Apple Music.