Striking hard & changing colours

Toronto-based band returns to Kingston riding the strength of sophomore effort ‘...On The Heart’

Wildlife played Wolfe Island last summer.
Wildlife played Wolfe Island last summer.
Singer Dean Povinsky graduated from Queen’s in 2005.
Singer Dean Povinsky graduated from Queen’s in 2005.

For Dean Povinsky, of Toronto-based band Wildlife, Kingston is familiar ground.

As a Queen’s alumnus, he knows all about the Limestone City music scene and can look back to a number of great shows.

“I definitely spent a lot of time at the Toucan,” Povinsky, BFA ’05, said. “That was probably my favourite bar.” Povinsky also attended shows at the Grad Club, the venue Wildlife played in the fall and will be playing again next week.

“I saw tons of really cool shows at the Grad Club — it was a fun place to be,” he said. “That [last Grad Club show] was the best Kingston show yet I’d say.”

The bands origins extend to Povinsky’s time at Queen’s, where he played with classmate Darryl Smith. After graduation, the pair moved to Glasgow where they played shows and recorded.

“We did that for 10 months and did lots of travelling but ultimately decided that we liked Ontario better,” Povinsky said.

The move coincided with personnel changes. Povinsky is now joined by Graham Plant on guitar, Derek Bosomworth on bass and Dwayne Christie on drums. Smith is still involved and often tours with the group.

“Last time we were at the Grad Club we were doing a four-man tour, but we work better as a five piece I think,” he said.

The release of 2010’s Strike Hard, Young Diamond received a positive review from Exclaim!, calling the five song EP “bold, full of angst and to the point”.

Mainstream recognition came when Corona used their single “Lightning Tent” for their Live Mas Fina marketing campaign.

“I think they were trying to rebrand a bit and get away from the lazy couple on the beach,” said Povinsky.

Their early work on Strike Hard sounds like an homage to the passions of youth, something Povinsky describes on the band’s website.

“[It’s] an observation on letting go ... We used themes of adventure, exploration and vitality to explain jumping into the dark, deep water, not knowing or caring where you come up for air,” he said in the statement.

It’s these themes that connect Wildlife with young listeners and attracted the Corona marketing execs.

“We had all these songs and we felt they really represented this general feeling of being young and naïve and youthful and adventurous and what was going on in our lives for a while.”

Their most recent album, …On the Heart, released in March 2013, is the logical continuation of these themes.

“[It’s about] coming to terms with growing up and not being some wild, crazy maniac all the time anymore,” he said.

The group has been dabbling with new material, but won’t be back in the studio in the near future.

“We’ve been able to do a lot of different stuff with […On the Heart], so we’re not in too much of a rush to put out a new record,” he said. “We want to do more travelling with it.”

The upcoming tour will see the band continue to don their trademark armbands, which each member of the band wears on their left bicep while performing.

“We like to get involved in the visual aesthetic of being in a band,” he said.

The colour of the armband changed from turquoise to gold with the newest album and recent tours.

“It came about because we were just sick of being a bunch of dudes wearing plaid onstage.”

Wildlife plays the Grad Club March 29 with Sweet Jets.

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