Last spring Victoria rock group the Party on High Street were in the middle of recording their first album of new material in two years when they decided to take a break and visit a friend in Grand Forks.
That friend is folk singer Dave Soroka, a local musical fixture who TPOHS bassist Brin Porter said has a catalogue of “thousands and thousands” of songs that he’s been performing for decades.
Porter had recently listened to an album of Soroka covers and felt inspired to do his part to introduce more listeners to his music. TPOHS – Porter, guitarist Travis Charuk and drummer Devon Venoit – picked their 10 favourite compositions and with Soroka recorded an album.
“I really, really enjoy the simplicity of his songs and how every verse kind of twists the whole meaning of it a little bit. Because he’s definitely got a way with making very simple words very powerful,” Porter said.
“They’re all kind of three-chord country folk tunes and we just went all over the map with them. [We] made one a hip-hop song, made one a sludge grunge song, made one an R&B song and just really had fun changing the genres.”
He said he probably should have felt pressure working with Soroka and presenting him with radically different renditions of his songs, but after playing the festival circuit together for years the musicians had an easy rapport and the sessions went smoothly. The band brought the recordings back to Victoria and after some overdubs released the album in September.
“The festivals that we play, they’re a lot of small-time festivals like, say, 500 to 1,000 people and a lot of them know who Dave Soroka is so they’re really stoked to see that we’ve done this,” he said.
“It’s kind of interesting when you change the genre or you change the way it’s sung even, how it can almost change the message of the song without going too far because they’re still his songs.”
After a string of dates inland the band is back on the Island and will perform at the Queen’s in Nanaimo on Jan. 26. Porter said they’ll be capping off the tour with another bout in the studio. After all, they do have some unfinished business.
“One of the reasons that we’re on this little tour is wanting to promote this album, but another one is because we’re working our way up to Cumberland to record drums on a new album of all originals we’re gonna try and release before the summer,” he said.
“We put it on hiatus for a bit and now were coming back to it.”
WHAT’S ON … The Party on High Street performs at the Queen’s on Friday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. $10 admission at the door.