The Saints of British Rock
Where: Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad St.
When: Friday and Saturday, doors 8 p.m.
Tickets: $17 at door or Lyle’s Place
They invaded the Victoria Day Parade. They gigged at Stonehenge. And then they got tossed out of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Now the Saints of British Rock are set to pound out their satirical rock show for two nights at the Victoria Event Centre. The quintet is led by two Victoria natives: Jib Frombroffitts (a.k.a. Paul Melnyk) and Rocco Hercules Sumershire (a.k.a. Glenn MacCrae). In their stage “mockumentary,” they portray what one journalist describes as a “pair of moronic rock ’n’ roll yobs.”
Moronic or not, Jib and Rocco must be doing something right. Last summer, the Saints of British Rock earned critical raves at fringe theatre festivals in Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg. The Saints are now booked to perform at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in Australia in March.
Boasting of playing at Stonehenge may sound like a Spinal Tap-like fantasy. Yet Jib and Rocco managed this in March 2011, says Melnyk, who at six foot seven comes off as a towering, bearded prankster. They obtained permission from English Heritage with help from Peter Tongue, a former St. Michaels University School teacher who is a native Brit with U.K. connections.
Melnyk said the project was part of a Jib and Rocco documentary film taking them to other mythic English sites such as Glastonbury. At Stonehenge, he and his partner were filmed singing songs and staging a mock sword fight, all within the sacred circle of rocks. They also placed three-metre-high photographs of their faces inside Stonehenge.
One elderly security guard didn’t approve of this.
“He was like, ‘;This is terrible, this is horrible.’ He was really choked, right?” Melnyk said. “All I did was put my sword in the grass.”
English Heritage subsequently sent the Saints’s lawyer a letter accusing them of vandalism. Melnyk said he was initially “scared stiff.” However, the historical society eventually backed off.
Melnyk and MacCrae seem more like merry jokesters than actors or rock musicians. They slip into the roles of British-accented rockers Jib and Rocco offstage as well as on.
Another time, seeking additional fodder for their yet-to-be-completed documentary, they travelled to Egypt to visit the Great Pyramid. However, a tour guide ordered them to leave the 3,500-year-old monument when Melnyk, in the guise of Jib, loudly complained that his “rock ’n’ roll leg” was hurting.
“So, check it out, me and Rocco got kicked out of the Great Pyramid; we never actually got to go in,” he said.
All these adventures are true, says the show’s director, James Douglas, who also manages entertainment programs at Barkerville, the historic Cariboo gold rush town. “There’s even more than that, to be honest. I have seen most of the footage,” Douglas said.
On yet another occasion, Jib and Rocco infiltrated the 2011 Victoria Day Parade. They and the other Saints (their backup band is also known as the Party on High Street) rented a red double-decker tourist bus with Union Jacks on the sides. They decorated it with banners and giant photos of Jib and Rocco. Then, using generator-powered Marshall amplifiers, they played a deafening rock show from the top of the travelling bus. Because the band was so loud, floats ahead and behind the Saints of British Rock kept their distance.
“[The crowd] frickin’ loved it,” Melnyk said. “We got third place.”
The Spectrum high school grad created the show with McCrae. Their British rocker personas began when the pair, performing in local rock bands, began delivering their stage patter with English accents for a joke. This evolved into a 11-song disc of humourous songs recorded at Seattle’s Bear Creek Studio. Finally, Melnyk got the idea of weaving the songs into a theatrical narrative.
Through a friend, Melnyk and MacCrae linked up with Douglas. The director invited them to workshop their show in snow-swept Barkerville. “We locked ourselves in a cabin for three weeks,” Melnyk said.
As entertaining as the Saints of British Rock show may be, one senses it may be overshadowed by the offstage adventures of its creators.
n Recording at London’s Abbey Road Studios in 2011
n Recording in Seattle with producer Ryan Hadlock. Hadlock also produced a self-titled album for the Lumineers, who were nominated last month for two Grammy awards (including Best New Artist)
n Having a 13-metre-long Stonehenge styrofoam replica built for them by Langford artist Paul Archer, who has created artworks for Lady Gaga. The replica, dubbed Clonehenge, may be on display at the Victoria Event Centre — that is, if it fits.
The Saints of British Rock will definitely bring another prop. It’s something called Merlyn’s Lightbox, a device that emits LED flashes. The band believes it coaxes the audience into a state of hypnotic bliss by stimulating the pineal gland.
“It kind of induces you into a lucid, dreaming state,” Melnyk said. “We’re still working on the scientific data to confirm this.”
© Copyright 2013