By Leah Hansen
For Aukland, life moves fast. Sitting in Mississauga’s Daylight Grill the morning after a show – the number of hangovers equaling the number of band members – Sean Sroka, Jeff Campana, Andrew Thomas and Ryerson radio and television arts (RTA) student Dave Setton take full advantage of the much needed break.
The four-man band from Mississauga has had a spate of success recently, playing a mini-tour in the beginning of January as the opening act for Juno-nominated bands Tokyo Police Club and Hollerado.
The three-stop tour covering Sheridan College, McMaster University and Western University kicked off Jan. 10, preceding the release of the band’s first EP later this spring.
The transition from being fans to sharing a stage with Tokyo Police Club was “the greatest time of his life” said Camapana, the lead guitarist.
“They’re really nice guys and great musicians,” he said. “It was just a lot of fun to be there and to learn from them.”
Although Aukland has only been around for six months, its members have been playing for the last few years under the name Seam, started by Sroka and Campana when they were in high school together.
The lead singer, Sroka, explains that all four members felt like they had outgrown Seam’s sound, which led to the decision to rebrand as Aukland. However, they weren’t starting from scratch.
“We had a lot of experience with our old band,” said Setton, Aukland’s drummer. “We knew what worked and what didn’t, and we had a lot of contacts, so that definitely helped push us.”
While the experience of rebranding has mostly been a positive one given their recent success, it hasn’t come without criticism.
Some of the fans the band had earned as Seam were unhappy with the rebranding and the way their sound was evolving.
“If you want us to sound like Seam or our last record, then go buy the last record and listen to it,” he said. “We’re growing as musicians and as people, so we can’t play the music we played when we were 18.”
Aukland – which is named after a street in Mississauga – is self-managed for the most part, Sroka said. With several upcoming shows and an EP release planned for April, they’re busier than ever.
“The band is very much a fulltime job for us,” said Thomas, the band’s bass player. “When we’re not at rehearsals, we’re emailing people about booking shows in other cities, we’re contacting bloggers – anything that we can do essentially just to keep momentum rolling.”
In addition to managing their band and recording tracks for their upcoming release, all of the four members have other things on their plates. While their success is something to be proud of, it doesn’t come without sacrifices.
Sroka, Campana and Setton are all enrolled in full-time university programs.Thomas plays with another group besides Aukland and manages session work and a fulltime job on the side.
Setton, a third-year RTA student, says he’s not sure how he’s gotten through the last two years.
In addition to Aukland, he’s also doing graphic design for a practicum group working on a documentary about MDMA this semester.
“I barely get through it,” he said. “But I think it’s been very good for me to be in RTA, because it’s taught me a lot about social media and how to make this band social.”
While playing lead guitar with Aukland, Campana is also pursuing a degree in electrical and biomedical engineering at McMaster.
Despite this, he said that playing with the band is his first priority.
“If you asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I’d have to say music for sure,” he said, joking that he’s in year three of nine in the program.
“School will always be there, but I’ve got to do this while I’m young and spry,” Thomas said.
He spent a year and a half enrolled in a music program with a focus in Latin jazz.
While he enjoyed the program, he said he had no time to do what he really loved, which was making music.
Despite everyone’s busy schedules, all four can agree that the band comes first. The late nights, early mornings and the copious consumption of various alcoholic beverages has made for some great experiences.
“I’d love to just quit my job and do this full time,” Setton said. “We want to be able to do this and put everything into it.”
Aukland’s next Toronto show is at the Rivoli on Feb. 15.