West Shore Culture
Interview By Anne Marie Moro
Photo credits: Justin Sparks Photography
High Noon to Midnight consists of four guys who share the simple notion that music sounds better when you have a damn good time making it. The rock tunes they create reflect this idea and pay tribute to each member’s very different musical background and influences. Simply put, this is a band that you must see live. With soulful, emotionally-driven vocals and blistering saxophone solos, their creatively crafted songs take on a life of their own. High Noon to Midnight delivers the goods every time they hit the stage.
Over the past 5 years, High Noon to Midnight has solidified themselves as a staple of the local Victoria music scene. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of Kim Mitchell, Gob, The Dudes, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, The Cave Singers, Band of Rascals, Jesse Roper and many more.
Adam Barter’s speaking voice is actually very different from how he sounds when he’s singing. He has a powerful, raw singing energy—really attention grabbing. I told him his vocals reminded me of ‘The Doors’. [Blush]
Q: What is the significance of your band’s name?
A: Well, the name ‘High Noon to Midnight’ actually came about before the current band existed. Paul Okrainetz, our first bassist, and myself played together as a duo for about three years. At our first opportunity to play at a festival—‘Rock of the Woods’ up in Cowichan—we were explaining to folks that we were playing on Sunday morning at high noon. We were just trying to get the word out to as many people as we could, because Sunday morning on the last day of the festival at noon is probably the worst time to play a set. So, we were making people aware of when we’re playing; just shameless self promotion!
Anyway, Saturday afternoon comes around and this young woman tell us, “You guys are going to be fantastic. I really like your energy. What was your band’s name again—‘High Noon to Twelve’ or something?” She basically took our promo pitch and thought that it was our band’s name. It was completely by accident [that the name came up]. Paul and I just kind of both looked at each other and said, “Yeah, we’re ‘High Noon to Midnight’.” And that’s how our band got its name. That [incident] made it really easy for us; the name was generic enough and we really felt attached to it right way. It’s worked out very well.
Q: So, you were born in Langford, I understand?
A: I was, yeah, born and raised—as were all of the guys in the band. They all went to Belmont. Myself, I went to high school in Victoria, but I did go to Millstream Elementary School here. I’ve definitely been around for the entire West Shore explosion. Lived on Mocha Close off of Hansen. Used to do the paper route for Hansen Hill, Mocha Close and Treanor Avenue. There used to be a corner store back when Four Cats Art Studio was down there and we would sneak out of school at recess and go buy chocolate bars.
Q: Who are the band members in your group today?
A: Sam Rolfe plays drums. Dave Lawson plays saxophone and Kevin Timmer plays bass. We’ve been together for about five years now.
Q: Where have you been playing?
A: Recently, we’ve opened for Band of Rascals and Kim Mitchell. That was a fantastic opportunity. It was really great to go up there and play to a different crowd. We actually got some sideways looks when I got up there with an acoustic guitar. A bunch of old rockers are thinking, “What are we doing
with a folk band [opening act]?” But it was awesome to see the crowd come around. Soon, everybody is thinking “OK, this is rock and roll; this isn’t laid-back, mellow folk music!” Dave’s saxophone quickly took on the role of a lead guitar player—as well as any lead guitar player out there, I think—and it gives us that original edge [to our music].
Q: Are festivals your main vehicle to get you out there playing?
A: They’re one of the avenues that we’re going for more these days; but, it’s been difficult for us to get in. This past summer, though, we kind of broke through. We played more festivals than we ever had before and we’re hoping for more this year. We want a chance to play at ‘Tall Tree’ through a big Tall Tree competition. We got asked to play the ‘Laketown Rock Music Festival’ main stage this year, which is a massive, massive stage up in the Cowichan Valley—one of the biggest in Canada, I think. We’ve played ‘Rock of the Woods’ every year that that festival has been in existence.
Q: I read in your bio notes that you grew up listening to Fred Penner and had a homemade guitar with fishing line for strings! You have to tell us about that!
A: I’ve always been drawn to the guitar and kid shows growing up: Fred Penner and Sesame Street. I remember the first time I saw Fred Penner and he was playing guitar, walking through the woods. At one point, he put the guitar down up against a fallen tree and jumped over, turned around, grabbed the guitar and pulled it over with him. There was just something about that scene that I liked. I thought: that’s what I want to do. So, my dad made me a plywood guitar and put fishing line strings on it. I re-enacted out that whole scene just as I remembered it, doing it over and over and over again. I just wanted to have that guitar in my hands all the time. I also listened to a ton of old classic rock with my dad. Like Boston and Bon Jovi and songs like ‘House of the Rising Sun’. A lot of classic influences.
Q: What do you want your listeners to take away from the songs that they hear?
A: I don’t necessarily set out to get a certain message across. When I write a song and get to the point where I feel like it’s done, I want it to be as top quality as possible. I want people to be able to listen to my music over and over again and not get sick of it. So, if I write one that doesn’t feel right, then I’m not going to put it out because it’s not about quantity to me; it’s more about quality. Because, honestly, if I can’t live with listening to a song over and over again, neither will my listeners. I want to be able to play songs for them over and over again and still love it.
Q: When you write songs, what comes first for you? The lyrics or the music?
A: I usually start with the music because that’s where my roots are. I wasn’t a singer growing up. It took me a long time to find my voice—ask my parents! I just wailed away in the basement for a very, very long time before there was anything I could show anybody. So, yeah, the music to me comes first. I try and find something unique and a little bit different. I think about what kind of mood, what kind of scene the music sets. And then, I see how that inspires a lyric from there. I write lots and lots of lyrics. I may start down one path with one kind of feeling and then end up somewhere completely different. I try to write as many lyrics as I can to one piece of music so that I know I covered all my bases.
Q: Thanks so much, Adam, for sharing that process. So, you say you didn’t see yourself as singer initially. What eventually got you out and in front of a crowd?
A: I started playing guitar at a very young age. I starting taking lessons when I was eleven years old. Then, I switched schools and went to a Christian school for grade 7. Once the teachers there got wind that I was a guitar player, it was like “You’re playing on the music team!” And so, from twelve onwards, I was up on stage playing all the time. I was addicted after that—
even though it was completely nerve wrecking and something I’d never done before. I had wanted to do it, but I never thought I’d be able to. It was almost like I didn’t have a choice though—it was like, “Oh, you play guitar. Come to a practice.”
Q: I’m a great believer in school music programs to inspire and grow musical talent.
A: Absolutely. I had some amazing teachers and amazing instructors along the way and amazing teachers that pushed me. They were just awesome influences.
Q: What school was that?
A: It was PCS – Pacific Christian School.
Q: So, what do you do outside of music? How do you spend your spare time?
A: I’m a pretty busy guy. I’ve got my family: two daughters, seven and five. For me, life is about my family and my music, and then work.
Q: Do you see any musical potential in your daughters?
A: I do, yeah. My oldest is very, very driven. She plays guitar and drums and likes to sing. Although both like to get into the rehearsal space and perform. My youngest really likes to play guitar and smash on the drums.
Q: And you’re right there to encourage them! Even if they don’t become performers, music will always be a part of their lives. Adam, what direction do you see your group taking in the years ahead?
A: We were always a band that tried to travel down the road that was set out for us and take the opportunities that came to us. But, we are getting to the point now where we are making our own opportunities—which is a really exciting thing. It’s been a really cool transition for us because, at a certain point, you can’t expect people to always ask you to come onto their shows. No, to get those awesome big shows, we’re going to have to start being the ones that put on those awesome shows!
So that was kind of the leap that we took with our ‘Burn’ EP release party at the Capitol ballroom. We’ve never headlined before. So, this was kind of our stepping into that next phase of our life as a band together.
The Secret’s Out!
Get ‘Burn’ EP @ https://highnoontomidnight.hearnow.com/