The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
Stuck in a Guelph, Ont., motel last April for the recording of their debut EP, Challenger, the members of Through These Words (TTW) watched in horror as the food in their fridge – the food they had spent the last of their money on – went bad.
“We had to chuck pretty much all the stuff we’d bought,” says Chris McGowan, TTW’s bass player. “So we were stuck with McDonald’s coupons for food and playing NHL 11 to kill time.”
Somewhere, an EA Sports public relations staffer is beaming with pride.
“The actual recording was really quick and smooth,” McGowan says. “It seemed long because we were all broke. We spent all the money we had on recording the EP and the motel, and we didn’t have any money to spend on anything else to do. It was fun, though.”
Upon its release in August, Challenger helped TTW continue their rise in the Niagara music scene. With nearly 3,000 likes on their Facebook page by the end of November, TTW has become arguably the most successful St. Catharines-based metal band today.
“It’s been awesome,” McGowan says. “We couldn’t be happier that people actually like what we have to make.”
McGowan started the band in high school with schoolmates Brad Feor and John Cadot, TTW’s guitar players. To fill out their lineup, they took a bit of an unconventional route.
“We found James [Oleksiak, TTW’s drummer] through Kijiji, actually,” says McGowan, with a laugh. “He suggested Matt [Vaughn Szep] to do vocals.”
McGowan, 19, says the band gelled immediately, writing a brand of heavy metal mixed with southern-style hardcore that came naturally to the quintet. McGowan says Challenger was designed to give fans a taste of TTW’s sound.
“We didn’t want just a three-song demo where you don’t get a full grasp on the band’s sound,” he says, “so we went with five. Each song gives you a different vibe, which I think is cool.”
There was another reason for Challenger’s length, of course: Money.
“We were broke,” McGowan says, with a laugh. “We couldn’t really afford to do much more.”
McGowan says the band would like to play more out-of-town shows and possibly tour sometime soon. He promises more recordings coming down the pike, too, all with the eye on building a fan base – a fan base for which TTW is most appreciative.
“We love anyone who takes the time to listen to our music and give us a chance.”