From the mid-’80s to the early-’90s, The Grapes Of Wrath and The Northern Pikes were responsible for some of the catchiest and most heart-felt singles and videos to come out of Canada at that time. Fast forward some 20 years later and the vocalist/guitarists from each of these bands find themselves living just blocks away from one another in Toronto.
This realization led to Bryan Potvin (The Northern Pikes) and Kevin Kane (The Grapes of Wrath) getting together to hang out with a couple of guitars for some casual jams, and the conclusion: “This sounds good! Let’s do some shows!”
Making their live debut in March of 2014, the two immediately knew they were on to something and have kept at it, playing some 40-odd shows across Canada that first year to enthusiastic audiences. The duo even released a self-titled live recording from one of their house concerts in response to the overwhelming number of fans asking for something to take home.
In February of 2015, the pair, now officially calling themselves Kane & Potvin, decided to see if that live chemistry would extend to the studio. They booked in time with Darryl Neudorf (Blue Rodeo, Neko Case, Lindi Ortega, Jill Barber) near Orangeville, Ontario – coincidentally, the location of Bryan and Kevin’s first show together.
Completing five songs in as many days, including their first co-write, it was clear the Kane & Potvin chemistry was the real deal. Rather than release the songs as an EP, they decided to go for the gold and launch a Pledge Music campaign in September of 2015 to raise funds to complete another five songs. Within 24 hours the campaign reached its goal and when all was said and done almost twice the amount of money was raised. The album was completed in a burst of creative inspiration. Time was booked with Grammy Award-winner Peter Moore (Cowboy Junkies, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall) to master the full album.
“Like most successful musical collaborations I’ve had in my life, the working relationship between Kevin and I is rather non-verbal. We don’t talk too much about the music – we just kinda play it,” said Potvin.
“When I met Kevin, it seemed like such an obvious idea for us to try playing together. Then we worked out a decent little show. Then we wrote and recorded some tunes. Then a year later we’re completing an album. The entire process to me so far has been effortless and obvious. That’s why I think we’re on the right track.”
From the first rehearsal, Kane said both musicians saw that there was potential to present songs from the Pikes, the Grapes, as well as their respective solo material, in a way that listeners would find both fresh and familiar.
“Working with Bryan is as easy a musical relationship as I’ve ever had because it feels like we “get” what the other guy is going for in a song but at the same time I think we are both pleasantly surprised by what the other brings to a song or arrangement. It’s a nice balance of respect and comfort with one another, where no idea is too precious or too stupid – until we’ve tried said stupid idea and deemed it too stupid. But only then,” Kane said with a laugh. “We come from a similar place musically but approach things from our own perspectives.”
Over the year the duo has hit the road as often as possible, playing shows from coast to coast, and performing a mix of Northern Pikes, Grapes Of Wrath, solo songs, and, of course, debuting new Kane & Potvin material.
Still true to their rock roots, Kane & Potvin continue to heap pop sensibilities generously throughout, but today the lyrics are deeper and richer – tenanted with life stories that can only be accumulated over time. Both artists seem to have found a trusted songwriting partner with which to explore these experiences.
“Music to me is ALL about collaboration. I prefer it. It’s spiritual alchemy. When the formula is right and a great piece of music is created by a group of people… well, this is probably the most exciting thing in the world to me,” Potvin said.
“Bryan and I are both ‘lifers’ when it comes to music: there’s nothing else either of us are all that interested in doing. Music is as much a part of my existence as breathing,” he added.
“Kevin and I resonate on the same frequency – we’re roughly the same age with a very similar musical pedigree. I think we’re also both melody driven musicians,” sums up Potvin. “We both love guitars. And dark chocolate.”