Cross-cultural rock comes to Clark

Former students returns to campus with an overhauled approach after traveling to Tanzania

They’re based out of Toronto, but don’t feel pressured by big-city competition.
They’re based out of Toronto, but don’t feel pressured by big-city competition.
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This Saturday, the anthemic rock of Toronto-based band Highs will be concentrated within the beer-soaked walls of Clark Hall Pub.

It’s not the band’s first time at this campus watering hole, though, having played here last school year.

The band members, Doug Haynes and Joel Harrower on guitar, Karrie Douglas on keyboard and Kevin Douglas Ledlow on drums, have all passed through Queen’s Concurrent Education program.

Haynes said he still has fond memories of the school.

“While there, I fell in love with Queen’s and Kingston. There’s a great arts community. We have a great relationship to the people around town, like Clark Hall Pub,” he said. “We always book shows that we look forward to.”

While touring, Highs has fostered quite a relationship with the Kingston community. After a tour in Canada and America, Clark Hall Pub and The Mansion remain their favorite places to perform.

“It’s always packed. It warms our spirits. The second we get into town, we can feel the energy,” Haynes said.

Toronto, with its highly-populated music scene, can be seen as an overwhelming place for new bands. Haynes said he believes the contrary, that the city can be quite nurturing to artists.

“I would go against the idea that the Toronto scene is claustrophobic,” he said. “The bands create a great sense of community.”

Highs’ song “Nomads” was recently used in a trailer of the film Adult World, starring Emma Roberts and John Cusack. The song, which features an anthemic indie pop aesthetic layered with male-female vocal harmonies, has led to a surge of popularity for the band.

Despite the newfound attention, they currently have the song up for free downloading on their site highsmusic.com

The highlight of Highs self-titled EP is the song “Summer Dress,” an upbeat African-influenced pop song. The complex harmonies between the band members add a spiritual quality to the track.

Haynes, who travelled to Tanzania with a group from Queen’s to engage in cross-cultural educational experiences, said the sounds and rhythms of the country lent to the Afrobeat undertones in their latest songs.

It’s not the only thing he picked up from extensive traveling.

“You get to look at things critically, whether it’s your relationship with yourself, your environment, sense of home, loved ones, partner,” Haynes said. “When you return back, there’s a culture shock. I started looking critically at everything in my life. The way I engage with that is writing music.”

Highs play Clark Hall Pub on March 22.

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