It was a homecoming of sorts for CIVILIANA at Fernando’s Pub on Saturday night.
“Did we say how good it is to be back?” asked the band’s lead vocalist and drummer Calen Trentini to the pub packed with family and friends. “Because it’s really good to be back.”
The members of alt-rock group CIVILIANA all grew up and found their musical roots in Kelowna before starting the band in Vancouver in 2015. Saturday’s show at Fernando’s marked the first time the group was able to come back and rock their hometown crowd.
“Playing a place where you’re from, you definitely get a warmer crowd,” guitarist Adam Wilson said. “A place like Fernando’s isn’t a big venue, so you fill it with your friends and family and it just ends up being a big party.”
Trentini added, “it feels a bit different in Kelowna. In Vancouver, we grind away, we market our shows hard and try to pull in as many people as we can. We come to play here and it’s kind of like an exhale moment. Like, ‘let’s just play in front of these people that we grew up with and have a bit of fun with it.’”
The band is formed by Trentini and Wilson, alongside bassist Spencer Daley and guitarist Daniel Ponich, who all met while attending school in Kelowna. Trentini met Daley in Grade 7 music class and starting a band was “obvious” for the two rhythm section members. Trentini and Daley played several shows in Kelowna as a bass/drum-duo before being introduced to Wilson who rounded out the band then known as Civilian with some guitars.
The friends all went their separate ways after high school and reunited once they all eventually ended up in Vancouver. It was there that Ponich and the ‘A’ at the end of the band’s name were added and CIVILIANA was born. In the four years since they started playing together again, the group has taken a more synth-based approach to its classic rock inspired riffs—giving CIVILIANA its own modern twist on a guitar-driven sound.
“The city and the esthetic of being in a big city makes you less just want to play straight ahead rock and roll and instead incorporate something like maybe a synthesizer; something that’s a bit more widely accessible by somebody who would live in Vancouver,” Trentini said.
“I don’t think that was the primary driver of why we started incorporating a ton of electronic stuff into our music, but when I look at Vancouver, I think our music now is more represented by it than our older stuff.”
The group has been going strong for the past three years, releasing its first EP Out the Window in 2016 and following it up with singles Carry a Light and Void this year. The singles outline the story of navigating a relationship throughout your twenties, which Trentini says he’s well-versed in.
“When we went into the lyrical meanings for the song they did kind of take on a connected meaning,” Trentini said. “Very much, I was writing about what I knew. While it might’ve changed now, what I was going through was relationships and the messiness and different things that come with those.”
Trentini describes the narrative of the songs by placing Void first, symbolizing the loss of “direction and meaning as the result of a relationship,” which then moves into Carry a Light, which describes the post-breakup phase of “longing for what you once had and not being ready to do anything else.”
The third release in the narrative is Melt, a yet-to-be-released song about being ready to move on.
“It’s the gooey centre,” Wilson said.
“That’s the fun part,” added Trentini. “It’s when you’re ready to move on and you’re looking for those new connections. And the messiness and trickiness that comes along with it.”
CIVILIANA doesn’t have any future show dates set yet, but be sure to keep an eye on its Facebook page to find any other information and see where the hometown boys end up next.