Riding indie waves with The Kents

Lead singer talks influences, songwriting, and newest record

The Kents will be playing The Grad Club on Saturday, Nov. 17.
photo supplied by listen harder

Since the release of their debut EP Waking in 2016, The Kents have been on the rise in the Canadian music scene.  

After their last appearance in Kingston as Serena Ryder’s opening act at last year’s Homecoming concert, they’ll return this Saturday to play The Grad Club. 

Hailing from Lindsay, Ont., the four-piece indie rock group has been featured on Hockey Night in Canada, 

Spotify’s Best of 2016 Viral Hits, and Apple Music’s Rising Stars. Their songs are filled with anthemic refrains and intimate explorations of family growing pains, failing romances, and deep solitude.

However, the band’s rise to streaming sites and sold-out shows began long ago. 

In an interview with The Journal, guitarist and lead singer Warren Frank shared how a childhood discovery of music led to the creation of The Kents. 

Frank had an affinity for music long before he touched a guitar, thanks to his parents and an early exposure to a range of genres and artists. 

“My parents were always playing music in the house, and always encouraging me to be creative, so I knew I loved music from a pretty young age” he said.  

He started out playing drums in elementary school, and some of his earliest performances saw him tapping and singing along in his church choir.  

In grade 11 music class, he picked up a guitar and began to write his own music. He met fellow band members Freddy 

Kwon and Luke Shauf in that class, and it didn’t take long for the three founding members to discover their musical chemistry and begin playing together.

Their weekly music class assignment consisted of covering popular songs from different musical eras. When they weren’t practicing for school they would jam to medleys of mainstream pop. This experimentation led them to find the first hints of The Kents’ sound. 

As they continued to perform in class, Frank’s creative drive began to stir, and it wasn’t long before he was jotting down original lyrics and experimenting with his own guitar riffs. 

“Although I already knew I loved music, it was singing that pushed me to write more and begin performing more,” Frank said.

Plucking through guitar classes, the fledgling band’s influences ranged from the Arkells to Foster the People and Maroon 5. 

After high school, the band members dispersed to pursue post-secondary studies, with Shauf moving to Chicago, Kwon to Kingston, and Frank to Toronto, where he studied media production at Ryerson. Over the winter and summer holidays, they’dreunite to write music and play shows.

Their enduring friendship paid off—since Waking’s release, their music has cycled on Canadian radio stations, and they’ve played sold out shows with Hollerado, The Fast Romantics, and fellow Lindsay band The Strumbellas. Last year, The Kents released their second EP, Within Waves, and their music has since reached over one million Spotify streams. 

Within Waves’ success is no surprise. Its sincerity, swelling vocals and melodic guitar licks showcase the band’s ever-evolving musical style.

Although their music sounds seamless, Frank said the songwriting process itself isn’t so straightforward. It can take anywhere from one night to six months or even more just to write a rough draft of a piece. For instance, the band wrote the song “Low Light” from the Within Waves EP in a single night in a cabin in Quebec. 

“It’s an unpredictable process. Sometimes it’s just about stumbling upon the right place, time and mood,” Frank said.

While it may seem an exercise in patience taking half a year to write a meaningful song, Frank says it’s worth the wait. His time as a songwriter and musician has taught him the value of writing meaningful music, regardless of how long that process takes.

“The best thing you can do is be honest with what you write”, he said. 

“Don’t worry about how it’s going to be perceived. When you write about what you’re passionate about and what you need to process, the audience can feel that—you connect with them more.” 

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