IN CONCERT: Anyway Gang with Deanna Petcoff
Where: Capital Ballroom, 858 Yates St.
When: Wednesday, May 18, 9 p.m. (doors at 8)
Tickets: $46.61 (including taxes and fees) from admitone.com
Menno Versteeg has adopted a clear-eyed approach to Anyway Gang, the all-star assembly of Can-rock royalty crossing Canada for the first time this week.
“We want to set the bar as low as possible,” Versteeg, 42, said with a laugh, “and stumble over it when it feels right.”
The band is laid back out of necessity, as its four members each have full schedules of their own. Versteeg, the former frontman of Hollerado, is joined in the group by singer-songwriter Sam Roberts, Chris Murphy of Sloan and Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club, who have accumulated 31 Juno Award nominations over the course of their careers.
Despite their combined decades of experience, the members still don’t have their daily operations ironed out. Roberts — the only one not based in Toronto — will fly into Victoria from Montreal on Wednesday, just in time for a short rehearsal, Versteeg said. The band’s eight-date tour of Canada gets underway at the Capital Ballroom tonight [Wednesday], with Murphy, Roberts, Monks and Versteeg joined by Hollerado guitarist Nixon Boyd, keyboardist Anne Douris and drummer Adam Hindle for the performance.
Democracy is integral to the group, which has been operating since late 2019 around the busy schedule of each member; all four either have children or other musical projects on the go, Versteeg said. But while there’s a lot of moving parts, functioning as a unit is not something Versteeg would call complicated. “We’ve all been doing this long enough, and there’s enough respect there, and time under out belts, to know what matters and what doesn’t,” he said.
Versteeg was the lynchpin behind the formation of the group. Though the members knew each other in passing, or on a social level, he eventually put the pieces together. After participating in a succession of conversations with each member individually, he broached the idea of forming a side project as a loosely constructed collective.
To his surprise, they all agreed to participate — with one rule. “We’re doing this for fun to such an extent that there are no timelines and no pressure. If a thing doesn’t happen, fine. If a person doesn’t show, fine. We’re really and truly doing this for something different, a change of scenery.”
An eight-concert tour is short enough to keep the emphasis on fun but long enough to cause problems if personalities clash. Vertseeg said he has considered the idea (“We all know each other, but none of us have spent long amounts of time together on the road, so we don’t know each others’ idiosyncrasies enough yet to want to murder each other”) but he expects everything to be on an even keel.
“Pure easiness and fun,” is how he describes the vibe of the group on the eve of its first cross-Canada tour. “We just want to sing and strum chords.”