Q&A with Cuff the Duke

Vocalist Wayne Petti talks to the Journal about the band’s progression and growing up Oshawa style

Folk rockers Cuff the Duke return to Kingston for one of their legendary performances.
Folk rockers Cuff the Duke return to Kingston for one of their legendary performances.

What was it like growing up as an aspiring musician in Oshawa?

There wasn’t a lot of support in Oshawa. All of us that played in bands supported each other. That was about it. No press. No local radio. Nowhere to really play. Oshawa shaped our music the same way most suburban towns do. Boredom!

If you hadn’t pursued this, what profession do you think you would have pursued instead?

If I wasn’t in the band I’d be a meteorologist. Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with the weather.

Where does the name Cuff the Duke come from?

The name comes from a second hand t-shirt I bought in high school from a Goodwill.

What to you aim to achieve or convey through your music?

We want to make a living playing the music we want. We try to convey honest feelings and ideas through our songs.

What are your top three sources of inspiration?

Personally, Hank Williams, Sonic Youth, and Mike O’neil are my three biggest influences. I will never be sick of any of their music.

What is your guiltiest musical pleasure?

I don’t think I have one. If I like something I’m not embarrassed to say so.

How has Cuff the Duke’s music evolved over time?

I think every band try’s to evolve and grow. We try to better ourselves as musicians. We think that’s a very important thing. By doing that the music will change without having to consciously do so.

Way Down Here was recorded at Greg Keelor’s studio - can you tell me a bit about that experience?

Recording at Greg’s was awesome. It was the most relaxed recording session we’ve ever had. And the most enjoyable. Everything was done live to one inch tape. We had eight tracks to work with. Late sixties technology. No computers or click tracks were ever used. It was a great way for us to record!

How did the painting for Way Down Here end up being the cover of your album?

Our friend Stewart Jones (who is from Kingston originally) painted our last album cover and we wanted him to do this one as well. He came up to Greg’s while we were recording and took photos (which are in the booklet and on our website) one of those photos was a shot of a bird house on Greg’s property during a storm. He used that as a cover. We all loved it. It really captures the vibe of our time recording.

Do you have a favourite part of touring?

Yesterday we had a day off to get to Vancouver from Edmonton. We decided to take a slight detour and go to the Columbia Ice Field just south of Jasper. We spent a couple of hours walking around the Athabasca glacier. The Zeus guys (who are opening for us right now and who are an awesome band) came as well. Aside from playing those are my favorite type of moments on the road.

Least favorite?

Being away from the people who you care about.

—Chloe Campion

Cuff the Duke play the Grad Club Friday Oct 2nd at 10pm. Tickets are $10.

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