Meet Toronto-based rock band, formed in 2006, the Arkells. They have been a Canadian staple since performing at all the major music halls around the country. Most notably, they played a sold-out show at Scotiabank Arena (formerly Air Canada Centre) in February 2019, a high point in their career.
Just like most bands, the Arkells had their humble beginnings, however theirs happened to be in our very own Brandon Hall at McMaster University. Named after Arkell Street in Westdale, frontman Max Kerman started the band in 2006 after meeting guitarist Mike DeAngelis during Welcome Week. They were joined by Nick Dika and Tim Oxford, as well as Dan Griffin in 2006, who later left and was replaced by Anthony Carone in 2011.
Fourteen years and five studio albums later, it is obvious that the Arkells are on an upward trajectory, making a name for themselves within the Canadian music scene. Regardless, their passion for rock and roll, social activism, and their own community of fans has remained.
It is obvious to anyone who attends their concerts that they are extremely passionate about what they do and about making a memorable experience for everyone, from those in the front row, all the way to the nosebleeds. They truly put on a show, comparable to ‘The Tragically Hip’ (who they even toured with at one point).
Within the Arkells’ music, they aim to spark a dialogue around important issues from women’s rights in ‘Knocking at the Door’ to protesting against President Donald Trump in ‘People’s Champ’. In the latter, the lyrics heavily criticize President Trump, stating things such as:
“You’ve got the world at your fingertips and now you have it crumbling,” and “You do nothing every year but you’re showing up on the red carpet.”
The group has also addressed more local issues as well, being vocal about cuts to various programs, including the arts and the Ontario Autism Program, by the Ford government. Their charged song, ‘Relentless’, became an anthem to families affected by the Ontario Autism Program cuts.
Through their rise to fame, the Arkells have never once forgotten about their loyal fan base of those who have been with them since they performed at McMaster Welcome Week, to fans discovering them in their quarantine boredom.
Last month, the band partnered with Toronto Raptors Coach, Nick Nurse, to donate $25 000 toward brand new instruments for the music program at St. Aloyisius Gonzaga Secondary School in Mississauga after a teacher at the school, notably an Arkells fan, put together a cover of Arkells tune ‘Years in the Making’ for the concert band.
The Arkells have been known to give back to their community and surprise fans. They like to send fans videos on their birthdays and weddings. Most recently, a lucky McMaster graduate got a surprise on her own front lawn! The band surprised Ava Harrison with a special serenade and warm wishes – from a distance, of course!
It can be seen in the news and experienced firsthand how truly amazing the Arkells are; following their journey thus far, it’s evident how they embody the Canadian spirit and deserve all the fame and recognition that is coming for them.