With California Lane Change and On Your Mark
Saturday, Sept. 8 at 9 p.m.
Dinwoodie Lounge (2nd floor of SUB)
Tickets $11 at primeboxoffice.com
Ten years ago, five high school best friends in search of a good time got together and formed a band. Today, that group of teenagers has grown into the band Ten Second Epic, going on to achieve worldwide acclaim, international touring success and three full-length albums.
Arguably one of the biggest mainstream musical successes to emerge from Edmonton in recent years, the band’s achievements continue to stun the five best friends who, according to lead singer Andrew Usenik, “love performing more than anything.” And although some of the shock of being in the spotlight has begun to wear off over the years, the band still looks back on their humble beginnings with amazement at what they’ve managed to accomplish.
“When we started the band it was because we were friends who loved music and thought it would be cool to try to make some. We never had this mission statement that we had to be a hugely successful band,” Usenik says. “I think we appreciate every bit of success we can get, because we’ve come from a place where we started from nothing.”
From teenagers with low expectations to adults who’ve blown up across the world, the band has clocked in thousands of miles on the road and played hundreds of shows. But what’s perhaps the most impressive of all is the fact that after all this time, Ten Second Epic has retained all its original band members. Usenik credits their level heads and continued enjoyment of the hectic lifestyle to the organic and tight bond between the five bandmates, which he claims is just as strong 10 years in as when they started.
“I think a lot of the time these days, starting a band is a business move (and) not something that you do for the hell of it with your friends,” he says. “But I laugh, because I have no clue how anyone in a band that isn’t best friends with each other could do it — just the grind of the travel and the work is one thing, but you are literally with everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
While a close friendship held the group together as they’ve toured the world making music, the band members have worked individually on struggles like long-distance relationships and personal adversity, aspects of band life Usenik admits can be trying. In his case, the grind of touring meant many sleepless nights as he worked to complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta in civil engineering while on the road touring.
“I definitely took my time getting my degree,” he laughs, “There were a couple semesters there where I was literally gone for weeks and months and I would scan my homework, send it to my friends, and they’d print it out and hand it in, then I’d fly back for finals.”
The “hellish” process was difficult as the vocalist balanced a heavy course load, which forced him to take semesters off and prolong his degree. And while he doesn’t necessarily recommend the path of touring while studying to others, he maintains that “you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one thing that you love, because if you love a lot of things you should have them in your life.”
“My path shows a lot of people that while it’s obviously very important to work on your studies, it doesn’t need to define you as a person. It doesn’t need to limit you as to what your interests are and what your passions are,” he says. “It’s just a nice reminder to everyone that if you’re willing to work for it, you can have a lot of different things in this world. I don’t regret my experience at all.”
Though his school days are in the past, Usenik is still following his passions alongside his bandmates and best friends. As the hometown heroes prepare to take to the stage with their familiar pop punk sound for the first time since a stint at Warped Tour this summer, Usenik acknowledges that just like the students they’re playing for, this show marks a turning point for them as well.
“You can call (this show) the end of our summer vacation,” he says. “After this we’re going to begin writing a brand new record.
“We’re all excited to get back at it. It’s awesome because there’s nothing like a great university show to get you inspired again.”
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