The secret life of broadcast

Once unknown Secret Broadcast is garnering serious international notoriety with the likes of Sir Richard Branson grooving to their explosive take on Canadian rock & roll

Calgary rock band Secret Broadcast eagerly await their first Kingston gig.
Calgary rock band Secret Broadcast eagerly await their first Kingston gig.

Can you keep a secret? Fall in Kingston has finally rolled around, bringing a refreshingly different take on Canadian indie rock.

After having the chance to chat with vocalist Matt Lightstone of the Calgary-based trio Secret Broadcast, I was excited to discover a truly original band in the hoards of independent acts in Canada and beyond.  

Lightstone, drummer Bryan Craig and bassist John De Jesus met by coincidence. Lightsone felt like the stars aligned when the band was conceived.

“We had instant chemistry when we got together, we just started writing songs, they were coming out of us so fast so we started playing shows because we had so much material.” 

A group who have played with the likes of Metric, Attack in Black and The Stills, they’ve retained the ability to take it all in stride and remain down to earth. Their band name alone confirms it.

“We had several ideas for band names and decided we’d go with Secret Broadcast to poke fun at the indie scene a little, how its only cool if no one’s heard of it,” Lightstone said.  

The band has lately recruited fans wherever they wander. After releasing their 2007 EP Plastic Fantastic, they went on to win several contests—including beating 300 other hopefuls to snag a coveted spot playing Toronto’s Virgin Festival and a private after-party for Virgin empire founder Sir Richard Branson.

Lightstone explained the experience as a mind-blowing honour.

“It was awesome­—a real whirlwind. We ended up winning that competition, playing Virginfest and the following day we played at the afterparty at the Drake Hotel,” he said. “It was really, really cool that [Branson] was into the music, he got up on the stage and danced a little bit and even asked for an encore.” 

Kicking off the season with a bang, the group released their debut full-length album Exploding Spiders on Sept. 1st and have made the road their home for the next month. The title of the album Exploding Spiders is a nod to a quote from Beat Generation innovator Jack Kerouac.

Lightstone said the quote fit well with the band’s goals for their first record.

“The essence of the album is about living in the moment, excitement and spontaneity, stream of consciousness from the music to the lyrics,” he said. “We like that quote because it’s just him in the moment where he sees the excitement of life, we interpreted it in our own way.” An album jam-packed with genre and style from lulling rock rhythms to stadium style anthems, it seems Exploding Spiders came together seamlessly.

“We pretty much just get in a room and start playing. If we all have smiles on our face after we play a certain part, we know were on the right track,” Lightstone said.

The band had the opportunity to work with Laurence Currie, who has previously collaborated with Sloan, Wintersleep and Holy Fuck.

“The great thing about a producer like Laurence is that he whittles the music down, cuts out the fat and makes them sound as good as possible adding layers and depth to each track,” Lightstone said.  

The group credits Noah Mintz singer-songwriter, guitarist and mastering engineer with mastering the album, a staple with the likes of Broken Social Scene, The National and Death From Above 1979.

Recording in a unique Albertan studio called “Oddities” gave the band the opportunity to interact with instruments and tools previously belonging to legends such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

“We wanted to make a large sounding album, but still wanted to produce an eclectic mix of songs,” he said in a release. “There are songs that are filled with so much energy and intensity that they demand your immediate attention, ones that make you shake your ass, some that will whisper in your ear when you’re all alone, and some that swirl like a kaleidoscope of colours and take you to far off places.”

The groups high-energy live performances in addition to the already full-of-life album promise the ability to both shock and awe.

“Last night I wiped out and knocked over the drum set,” Lightstone said. “We try to make our live shows energetic, fun, we like to get people grooving and make them feel like anything can happen.” 

With their penchant for success thus far, this intimate and grandiose three-piece won’t be such a secret much longer.  

Secret Broadcast plays The Mansion with The Fast Romantics on Sept. 15th.

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