The Unfortunates are an alternative-rock quartet from Edmonton, Alberta comprised of Tanner Gordon, Bryce Thornton, Tim Plamondon and Brendan Urban.
The band formed in 2009 when Tanner, a local solo folk musician, met Tim, a former punk band front man, through work. The two began to practice and write material for a planned future release. When it was time to take the songs into the studio, it was realized that they needed a drummer. Tim had been playing in a band called Stick Figure with Brendan Urban for over 10 years and introduced him to Tanner. Brendan made the transition into the group seamless and the album 'Calm Down This Is Only The End' (2010) was released under the name Tanner Gordon.
After the album release, the group wanted to add another layer to fill out their sound. Tanner introduced guitarist Bryce Thornton to the group, a musician of many years from within the Edmonton scene. The four began to practice and write new material immediately. Over the course of only a few months, the band had written enough material to go into the studio. On November 22nd, 2011 the band released their first collective album 'We Talked Of Shadows' (2011) under the name Tanner Gordon & The Unfortunates. Along with the album release, the band was named local radio station Sonic 102.9's Band of the Month for November.
Over the next 18 months the band continued to develop their live act and write new material. In the spring of 2013, the group went back into the studio to record their 2nd full-length album. While in the studio the band had an epiphany that the project was truly a reflection of the four musicians coming together and growing as one. It was then that the band name was simplified to just 'The Unfortunates'.
The band has released of their second collective album, Indie Films on May 27th, 2014. And have completed a two-week Eastern Canadian tour promoting their album.
January 2nd - The Pawn Shop
w/Frankie McQueen, Most of August, and Three Brothers & A Bud
*Currently planning out 2015 dates*
NOTABLE PAST SHOWS
w/Tupelo Honey - The Starlite Room - Edmonton
w/SIIINES - The Studio Music Foundation - Edmonton
w/The Grapes of Wrath - Avenue Theatre - Edmonton
w/Slowcoaster -Tilted Kilt - Edmonton
Opening Ceremonies for Skills Alberta Competition - Northlands - Edmonton
w/Acres of Lions -The New Wunderbar Hofbrahaus - Edmonton
w/Econoline Crush - Outlaws Roadhouse - Edmonton
Sonic 102.9 Band of the Month Showcase - The Pawn Shop - Edmonton
w/Acronycal - Portage College -Lac La Biche
[FULL LISTING OF PAST SHOWS]
THE UNFORTUNATES ROCK THROUGH BROKEN BONES - VUE WEEKLY - JOSH MARCELLIN - DECEMBER 24, 2014
The Unfortunates are grinders.
The rockers have been hustling in the local scene since 2010, playing sweaty, high-energy shows to steadily growing crowds. The boys put their skin in the game—sometimes even their broken bodies.
“I broke some ribs playing hockey four days before our cross-Canada tour, like an idiot,” says lead singer Tanner Gordon. “But when you see people waiting for your show, you just go up there and kill yourself on stage and leave everything up there. The drives after weren’t as fun, though, when I was all pilled-up on whatever the doctors had me on.”
The band, formerly known as Tanner Gordon and the Unfortunates, decided to simplify, lopping off Gordon’s name last spring like a vestigial tail. It’s more streamlined now, he says, and reflects the collaborative nature of the group as opposed to the days when he was the principal songwriter.
The band released its second album, Indie Films, this past spring. It’s the sound of five young Edmonton men trying to make human connections with their instruments and their words.
“Like the song ‘Brick by Brick’—that’s about bullying,” Gordon says. “The suicide rates are high right now. Last night I was out driving and there were all kinds of cop cars on the High Level Bridge—there was probably a jumper, and that stuff happens every day.”
With the band nearly half a decade old, Gordon says it’s maturing as a group and tightening up its live show. Gone from its set are the Nirvana and Weezer covers—much to the devastation of bass player Tim Plamondon, Rivers Cuomo superfan—in favour of playing original material. Now, thanks to its growing and loyal fan base, Gordon says the Unfortunates’ shows are some of the tightest, highest-energy sets you can see in Edmonton.
“This is a really exciting time for us,” he says. “Every time we play it’s packed and a lot of fun.”
2014 saw the addition of guitarist Nathan Stamhuis, freeing Gordon from strumming duties live.
Gordon thought he’d miss having the guitar in his hands, as he’s had it his whole performing career, but he soon realized it was easier to connect with audience without it.
“Our first performance without me playing guitar was the first time I saw the audience chanting along to our songs and mosh pits starting,” Gordon says. “I thought I would miss it way more, but it’s helped me be more real and personal live.”
Stamhuis, a friend of lead guitarist Bryce Thornton’s brother, was a fan of the Unfortunates before he got to join the group on stage. He’s like Mark Wahlberg in Rock Star, except without the glorious flowing mane.
“[Stamhuis] does have an unbelievable moustache, though, so our raw sex appeal is through the roof now,” Gordon laughs. “There’s a really cool picture of him watching our band back in 2013. He’s in the crowd in the front row, throwing up his hands in this victory sign. And now a year later he’s on stage with us doing the same thing.”
NO MISFORTUNE FOR THE UNFORTUNATES - YEG BEATS - SAHAR SAIFEE - OCTOBER 14, 2014
They may be called The Unfortunates, but their story has been anything but.
The Edmonton alternative-rock band has risen to prominence in the music scene by working tirelessly over the last five years. The nonstop work earned them the title of Sonic 102.9’s Band Of the Month in November 2011.
In addition to playing over 50 shows a year, the band has released two albums and went on a Canadian tour last summer.
INDIE FILMS TOUR
Their most recent album, “Indie Films,” prompted the group to play outside their local comfort zone and across Eastern Canada. Bass player Tim Plamondon described the experience as unforgettable.
“Across the whole country was so varied. But no matter where we went, people were so passionate about it. People were just so passionate about seeing live music.”
Fans weren’t just surprised by the band’s new music, but also by the fact that they were able to travel across Canada without the support of a major label.
“Everywhere we went, people were like, ‘Wow you guys are from Edmonton?’ An Indie band going through Canada by themselves? Like nobody does that any more or not very many people do,” Plamondon said. “People were pretty impressed.”
Shortly after the tour, the band released a music video of its first single “Brick by Brick,” the product of a strong vision by lead singer Tanner Gordon
The video speaks out against bullying by motivating people to find their own strength, Plamondon said. “We’re just saying that there is strength in each of us as individuals and we can write out any pain we have in our lives.”
HOW IT ALL STARTED
The band’s presence continues to grow since it formed in 2009. Originally, the Unfortunates were a folk band when Gordon and Plamondon, who was the guitarist at the time, met through work. Shortly after, Plamondon brought in drummer Brendan McGonigle and guitarists Bryce Thornton and Nathan Stamhuis. With the new members, Plamondon moved to bass and the band changed their style from folk to rock.
Passion for live music has given many local artists and bands the opportunity to live their dreams as performers, Plamondon says.
“People here are so passionate about coming out and seeing live music. I don’t think a lot of cities have that and Edmonton is very fortunate. That’s the one thing I love about this city, its passion for local music.”
The band is currently performing and writing new music with the hopes of releasing another album and going on another tour.
THE (IMPRESSIVE) UNFORTUNATES - SPITMILK MAGAZINE - IVY MCCARTY - SEPTEMBER 18, 2014
The Unfortunates are a polished act. They even have this little shtick at the beginning of their set where the whole band starts playing and then lead singer Tanner runs up to join them midway through the intro. They’re a star studded cast as each member of the band is a performer playing a role and doing it well. They come together nicely…if they were a duo they’d be Brangelina or bacon & eggs or PB&J. Except they aren’t a duo, they’re a 5 piece ensemble that molds together on stage like a well-oiled machine. Every element of their on stage performance is entertaining and smooth as butter.
They played us some new tracks of their album Indie Films and covered a couple of punk rock favourites like Say It Ain’t So by Weezer which were impressive. We especially liked the added theatrical flair by using the megaphone for the bridge of Green Day’s Holiday (such outlaws)! Even more impressive however, was the performance of their song Don’t Speak off their We Talked of Shadows album which was legitimately wicked and frankly, heartfelt.
When we caught these guys at Starlite Room they were so high energy we thought they were a punk rock act. Their on-stage presence makes them come across as a much harder band than they are. In fact, Tanner’s slicked back hair reminded me of Jesse Leach from the metal band Killswitch Engage. Upfront he had the same kind of ‘in-your-face’ movements – microphone cord wrapped around his fist; leaning over the speaker; reaching into the crowd getting as close as possible.
We were surprised to hear their recorded music without the act; it was actually more mellow and alternative rock. Last Saturday their performance of a new track, Talk Show Host, was crazy high energy! You can check out the video below but we highly recommend you just check them out in person when they play the Pawn Shop on October 18th.
UNFORTUNATE? NOT SO MUCH - NAIT NUGGET - CARLY ROBINSON - APRIL 10, 2014
Not all NAIT students leave and continue on in their field of study. There are times where we find alumni in different walks of life. An example of this is The Unfortunates band member Bryce Thornton. The Unfortunates have been hard at work over the past two years developing their new album Indie Films, which will be released April 27. “We all wrote this album,” says Tanner Gordon, the front man of the band. “It’s not a concept album, just this rock album and it took four guys to write it. If you read the insert in the album it doesn’t even list our names, it just says all music written by The Unfortunates,” he said. “We didn’t rush this (album) like we have some in the past. So, going forward, I think you are going to see us take a little hiatus in terms of another record coming out but we are still writing music all the time. At our last show in the encore we played a new song that isn’t even on this album. And that’s part of being in a band with five guys, someone’s always got an idea.” “It’s a lot more fun than the old style for sure,” he said.
Gordon also says there is a change in dynamic to the group with the new music they are releasing. “The shows have a lot more energy than the past ones did; it’s a lot more crowd engaging, a lot more energy both ways. “After we wrote “Hurt No More” and “No Ghost” in the last album, we went into this new album thinking you know we finally found the sound we were looking for and now it’s making it better so we spent two years writing this record where our sound was going to be this big rock sound that we feel like has been missing in music lately.” It was a complicated process, he said.
“The album took a lot of different directions and a lot of songs came and went, and the way it ended up feeling was that all of these songs were a different aspect of a life or a movie and, in the end, it felt like especially the “Indie Films” song or the “Talk Show Host” song a lot of different relatable events to different peoples lives. And it ended up feeling like clips from an indie film to me. ... And the songs started to take on their own little lives”
Another change for the band is the addition of a fifth member, Nathan Stamhuis. “He was one of our biggest fans. I’d say that and probably he’ll admit to that,” said Gordon. “He learned all of my parts beforehand and he stuck around and hung out with us for years ... If you look at a picture of him two months ago he’s front row at one of our shows with his arms in a celebration V... just loving it. And then look to a couple weeks ago at our last show he’s on stage doing the same symbol only he’s playing the part. It’s kinda one of those rags to riches stories you hear about in the movies,” Gordon said. “So I’m freed up for the first time to be just a front man of a rock band,” he said. “And for Indie Film you really see it come to life.”
Another big change for the band for the band is the name change. Being named Tanner Gordon and the Unfortunates, they are now going by just The Unfortunates. “It has to do with the way we move now as a band. It’s not so much about Tanner Gordon or all the ideas I bring to the band, because we write everything together now, other than the lyrics – I still do the lyrics. We’ve really become this one unit that moves together, we really have become just The Unfortunates now.”
The band will be doing something that they haven’t done in their five years together– a national tour. They will leave Edmonton on May 16 and tour Ontario and on their way back to Alberta will stop in Winnipeg and Saskatchewan before touring Alberta and B.C. However, as they take on more cities, Edmonton will remain their best place to play. “It’s always our biggest energy shows. I think the band brings it a lot more. It’s something about being in your own town and having everyone know the words and sing along and then really get into it.” “And I think that is the biggest thing. We just love playing here because of the fans. After the show, we meet all the fans at the merch table and I don’t think there’s anyone here I don’t like.”
The band has been prepping their album for release awhile and one big step is music videos. Having participated in the making of one of their music videos in the past (checkout No Ghost, and you may just recognize Elizabeth!) I know that the music videos mean a lot to these guys. With two already filmed and one more coming up, there is a lot to be excited about. “The second one we filmed was for “Talk Show Host,” which is going to be our first single released and we recorded that one at Avenue Theatre, it was such a great environment to be part of. That one will be out here April 27. We’re really excited, it looks really good.” Gordon encourages everyone to watch the behind the scenes videos for every music video, which will be released the same day.
You can catch The Unfortunates this Saturday at the Canadian Brewhouse, as they raise funds for their tour.
“We’ve got a new member in the band, new album and a big tour coming that we have never done before. We hope you guys love it."
REVIEW FOR WE TALKED OF SHADOWS- JUSTIN HARPER - INDIE MUSIC MAG - JANUARY 27, 2012
Wow, my first review for Indie Music Magazine and my first listen to Canadian based Tanner & The Unfortunates. Loading up first track “Elizabeth”, my ears perked up and I immediately sat up straight and as the song played on, started tapping my foot along to the lively beat which set a positive tone for the rest of the album. With echoes of“Counting Crows” swirling in the background, this is an album that will appeal to a wide age range. The laid back acoustic sound/s and melody’s entwine beautifully with vocalist Tanner Gordon’s unique vocals, which can only be described as a mixture of Counting Crows Front man Adam Duritz and the movement which saw them emerge from the San Fransisco Indie- Acoustic Rock music scene during the early 90’s.
There are some absolutely beautiful songs on this album, showing levels of musical maturity on tracks like “Yesterdays” and “Don’t Speak” far beyond the bands age. What really surprised me though, was how well the album moved seamlessly between tracks like “Six Of Hearts” and the more hard hitting “No Ghost” and “Shadows”. The bands ability to do this really helps to move the album along and kept me interested right to the end. With the majority of new music I listen to these days seeming to merge into one 40 minute long song, I was more than happy to let this album play through whilst I wrote this and that for me, is a rarity! Without a doubt one of the standout track’s of the album is the almost melancholy “Yesterdays”. The laid back bass line in the verse making me want to pick up my bass and just get lost in the music.
This album however is no one trick pony and to me, every song stands out on its own and is a testament to the work that went into the writing process. All in all, I see big things for the future of this Canadian quartet. I wouldn’t be surprised if opening track “Elizabeth” appears in the next feel good hit flick of 2012. In fact if I didn’t know better, I would have said the entire album was the new soundtrack off the latest Hit Rom-Com out at the cinema.“We talked of Shadows” is definitely worth a listen and will be on my playlist
for some time to come, I hope it’s on yours!
TANNER GORDON DIGS DEEP TO FEEL THE MUSIC - SANDRA SPEROUNES - EDMONTON JOURNAL -MAY 7, 2010
"Music is a feeling, not a sound" is one of Tanner Gordon's favourite phrases. The local singer-songwriter uses it on his website, Facebook and even in interviews. His folk-grunge -- or "tattoo folk" -- tunes evoke feelings of loneliness and despair, of a man abandoned by friends, God and girls, yet still willing to square his shoulders and face the fight of his life. His second and latest album, Calm Down This Is Only the End, is the 10-song journey of such a man -- from the post-jail blues of Calm Down to the spaghetti-western cleanse of Rain to the tentative hope of Naive. Gordon reveals his songwriting process in The Journal's new musical questionnaire:
1. Who are you? Who am I? Some days that's a harder answer than others. I used to be a folksinger, I know that for sure. Only two years ago I released my debut CD, completely acoustic. I'm still a songwriter, a storyteller for lack of a better word but in a completely different sense. My bio says that I'm 19 but I feel much older; almost as if this is my second time around. Vue Weekly dubbed this my second life. I'm a musician in every sense of the word, with more grit and determination than you can imagine. A lot of venues that are now my go-to spots completely shrugged me off the first times I showed up. Persistent is what I am. Who am I? I'm an artist looking to be heard.
2. How did you end up playing the instrument you do? Growing up I knew from Day 1, no question asked, that I would be a musician. Never thought twice about it; I remember being in Grade 1 or 2 and telling the teacher I was going to be a famous rock star. I didn't even pick up an instrument until junior high, but still never once doubted this is where I'd be. I ended up choosing guitar because I loved the concept of singing and playing at the same time in either a grungy way like Cobain or in a songwriter style like Dylan or Young (my biggest influences over this time period). I loved the freedom guitar gave me right from the start. I didn't need a band if I wanted to write a song this way; I could just play what I felt. It went on like this for some time; wrote hundreds of bad songs along the way and by the time I hit Grade 12, I was ready to start playing for crowds.
3. Easiest song to write/record? Lynn, just because of the amount of times we've played it live over the last two years. But difficult at the same time because the writing of this song damn near destroyed me. I didn't write anything for almost four months after this one and it truly rattled me as a person. The place I needed to go to write this story was a lot harder to come back from than it was to get there. On 50th Street, there's this stretch of road between Beaumont and Edmonton where on a snowy night this song came to life and every time I hit that highway I feel the depths of this song again.
4. What book or movie would best describe your album? I'm Not There. I want to make it very clear that I am in no way comparing myself to Dylan by naming this film. I choose this film because it depicts the same man in multiple different ways, personalities and complete entities over different parts of his life where it's at the point where he is no longer that other person at all anymore. The same can be said for the songs on this record. I feel as though a completely different person or side of me I didn't know wrote each song. I had to go to a very different place in the process of creating each song where it truly feels like they took a life of their own and took me to places I'd never been before as a songwriter.
5. As a musician, I'm most proud of ... ... my fans. Truly, I am. I'm so humbled every time I hit the stage and look out into the crowd. Nobody owes you anything in this world and for them to come out to all these shows and show the level of support that they do means the world to me. And there's no way I would have got to this point without them.
6. What was one of your favourite songs as a child? Pearl Jam's Nothing as It Seems from the album Binaural. This was my favourite song growing up and still is to this day. I learned a lot from Eddie Vedder on how to use words, how to place them in different places and times of a song to create a certain mood or tone, to move the story along in the way you want, to be in charge of the song's final outcome.
7. Favourite thing about Edmonton? Musically, open mikes. I've met some wonderful artists at open mikes all over the city. Also, if it weren't for open mikes and programs like U22 (Rhea March) I would not have been able to grow at the speed or play nearly the amount of shows that I did in the last couple of years.
8. Least favourite thing? Lack of great acoustically sound venues for acoustic artists. Some days, the noise of the crowds in bars kind of brings you down and the mood of the show. I wish there were a lot more places available for smaller audiences that have great sound in a theatre-like atmosphere. But you can't always get what you want so I learned to play to a crowd by performing in a lot of (crappy) bars.
9. Twitter, MySpace or Facebook? Why? Facebook. Just because it gives me the ability to invite 500-plus people to a show in a matter of minutes. It helps me connect with fans I've just met or people I haven't seen in a while because my focus has been only music. It is a great networking tool for musicians.
10. What's your next goal? To get better from here. I plan on changing my sound again for the next record. I like to keep things interesting and refuse to stay the same. Just more. More gigs, more records, more fans, more everything. I am more excited than I've ever been and truly ready to take this up a notch.
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