Locals the Simpson Brothers wing it big time on Cover Me Canada
How’s this for pants-shittingly terrifying? You’ve got yourself a little band, you’ve played precisely once in front of a tiny, invited audience at the Cellar, and then— boom! You’re making your actual live debut in front of roughly one billion people on national television.
This is what you witnessed if you watched the first round of CBC’s astronomically hyped new reality show Cover Me Canada on Sunday, in which eight bands vie for a $100,000 cash prize and a contract with Universal Music. The twist, of course, is that each band is covering classic Canadian tunes.
Twins Rob and Rich Simpson out of Tsawwassen were a mere two-piece when they submitted their cover of Bryan Adams’ “Run to You” to the show’s producers back in July. The CBC promptly called them back, asking, “Great, but can you get a band?”
“It just unfolded from there,” Rich told the Straight from a rehearsal space in Toronto last Friday. “It’s been a crazy ride.”
We’ll put it down to synchronicity that Rich received a Facebook message roughly five minutes later from a guy, he said, “I sort of knew from Tsawwassen.” That guy was Evan Findlay, who asked Rich, “Hey, do you guys still play music, and do you still have a band?”
Jump ahead to last Sunday, and that’s Findlay you see playing bass alongside the other recruit, drummer Bryson Dodwell. “Obviously, nerves are running a little high,” Rich said before the show, “but it’s mostly excitement right now. We feel ready. It’s go time.”
Cool, but how did the brothers feel about having Loverboy’s “Workin' for the Weekend” foisted on them for the first episode by the show’s producers?
“We were very, very excited to get that song,” said Rich. Say what? “The competition is about band identity and your ability to put your own spin on the songs,” added brother Rob. “And Loverboy is close to home for us. Our principal in high school was the brother of one of the band members…”
Now that the first episode is behind them—and you can check out their folkie take on Loverboy below—it remains to be seen whether or not the Simpson Brothers will make it to the final rounds of the eight week series. They’ve got some hard competition, especially from the two other locals who made the cut, Ali Milner and Warren Dean Flandez.
Not that winning is everything. From the sounds of things, the Simpsons, who deferred a school term in order to camp out in Hogtown for the duration of their stay, are having a whale of a time. “I don’t want anybody to be voted off,” said Rob. “It’s a great group of people.”