SwitchGear Bringing a Little Country to the City for Lift-Off
A couple of years ago, Jason Sauve was living in Calgary, contemplating a return to his hometown of Cornwall. Jamie Jarvo was in Cornwall and came across some of Jason’s songs online. The two connected and a spark of collaboration began to grow.
“I had heard Jamie’s voice before, and knew it could be the right type of vocal to complement the style of songs I was writing,” recalls Jason. “I wanted to return to my roots and working with Jamie gave me even more incentive to head back home.”
“I’ve known Jason since we were kids growing up blocks away in the same west end of Cornwall,” says Jamie. “I heard some demos and knew that we could do something special together.”
It would still be another year before the move across country would happen, but Jason continued to work on the music. When he did return, he and his family found temporary living arrangements at his mother’s house.
“I turned her living room into a studio and was mixing demos and songs that would later appear on the new album,” says Jason. “We would be up some nights till 2 am at a local school recording vocals, which ended up on the CD. From there we set about finding the right guys with the right drive and vision to compliment the project. “
The line-up of SwitchGear is a strong one, with five experienced musicians:
- Jason Sauve - Guitars, six string banjo, mandolin, backing vocals
- Jamie Jarvo - Vocals
- David Allen - Bass Guitar
- Kirk Wallace - Drums, percussion
- Scott Reasbeck - Electric/Lead Guitar
Lead guitarist Scott Reasbeck was from a local band called Whiskey Sour and had wanted to join a band playing original material. David Allen has played in previous bands such as The Mudkats and Tycoons. He was on a hiatus from music but when he heard SwitchGear was seeking a bassist he felt that it was the challenge that he was looking for. Kirk Wallace grew up in nearby Lancaster and lived in St. Louis for a time where he played with FlashKat. He moved back to Cornwall where he eventually hooked up with SwitchGear. All members currently live in Cornwall and are from the area except for Scott who was original was from Wasaga Beach area, but now calls Cornwall home.
Jason calls SwitchGear’s sound “new Country with an edge”. One can clearly hear Southern rock but at its core the band is very much at home in the outlaw country vein.
Their debut album is called 'Country in the City' and features nine original songs.
“The album features our strongest songs - no fillers,” says Jason. “We didn't want to water the CD down at all and only the strongest made the cut.”
The songs were written in some different combinations, with Sauve composing the majority of the songs, sometimes with co-writers. The second track ‘With Her Boots On’ saw the entire band collaborate on the lyrics.
The lead song ‘Country In the City’ is a rocking tune has become the band’s defacto anthem. The lyrics are all about letting loose and having a good time:
It's Country in the City if you know just what I mean, the parking lot rockstars and the girls in cut off jeans.
“There's enough bosses in the world telling people what to do, so I love that for 2 hours tonight, our audience is gonna forget all that and have a great time,” says Sauve.
The album offers a great mix of up-tempo songs and slower more introspective tunes – all with melodic hooks and lyrics that tell a story.
“The song ‘Fighter’ was written about a time in my life when I was facing a lot of negativity, and the song is me saying I'm made of a lot more than you bargained for, and I'm not gonna take this lying down,” says Sauve. “It's about standing up for what you feel is right, even if you have to stand alone.”
The album was produced at Jason’s home studio in Cornwall. It is a hybrid of analogue sounds and digital processing. Sometimes real amps and drums were used, sometimes digital sounds take over.
The album will be available on iTunes by the end of the month. Fans can download the CD via the online store at Reverbnation and Bandcamp, and CDs can be purchased directly from the band at its shows.
Switchgear open for the legendary Burton Cummings and Suzie McNeil Friday July 13th at the Kinsmen Cornwall Lift-Off Festival. They are busy all summer long with appearances at Cornwall Ribfest, Cardinal Community Festival, and Cornwall Arts in the Park. The fall is also quite busy with shows booked at the Rideau Carleton Raceway and other gigs in Ottawa, Brockville, Kingston and into Quebec.
“So far the experience has been more than we could have asked for," says Sauve. “It means so much to us to have the community behind us. We’re having a blast.”