The pandemic may have closed a lot of doors for musical artists, but Thunder Bay pop duo the Lockyer Boys have made the most of their time while stuck inside.
The band, made up of siblings Will and Charlie Lockyer, is emerging from lockdown with nearly two dozen tracks produced by a roster of industry heavyweights, a single that’s made it into the top 100 in the national CBC Searchlight contest, and an appetite to get back on the road as pandemic restrictions, hopefully, begin to ease.
The group’s first major single, Surfing in L.A., is an up-tempo, anthemic pop jam written in reaction to the pandemic – the band calls it a bittersweet ode to postponed dreams.
“The song pretty much encompasses that idea of not being able to go where you want to go,” said Will.
The inspiration came from the band’s plans to travel to Los Angeles to record, scheduled inopportunely for March of 2020 and cancelled just days beforehand.
Despite that initial disappointment, music proved to be a vital outlet when other opportunities were foreclosed by the pandemic.
A music video for Surfing in L.A., shot in their house by local photographer and videographer Chad Kirvan, captures the ups and downs of the experience.
“Most of it is just us jamming around the house, trying to make the most out of what we can in lockdown,” said Charlie.
The song is available on major music platforms including Apple Music and Spotify, where it’s racked up over 10,000 listens since being released last month.
Tuesday marks the last day of voting to determine which songs advance into the top 10 in CBC Searchlight. Votes can be cast at the Searchlight website.
Whether they make that exclusive cut or not, the track has already helped open new worlds for the band.
“The feedback on Surfing in L.A. has been really good – we’ve managed to grow our audience a little bit,” said Charlie. “We’ve gotten messages from all over the world. We just sent a Lockyer Boys hat to Egypt the other day.”
It’s a big jump for brothers who started out singing at a young age in small local venues, when they were first informally dubbed “the Lockyer boys.”
“Music has been a huge part of our lives ever since we were born, taking piano lessons, singing lessons,” said Will. “We come from a very musical family, so it just made sense to us to start a band together.”
Interest in their music began to pick up in earnest over the last two years, they say, resulting in a deal with a management company and the chance to work with proven hit-makers like producers Jeff Dawson and Alan Poettcker, Shawn Hook, Scott Helman, and Daniel Powter.
“For the past two years, we’ve been writing an album with some industry greats, I would say,” said Will.
Charlie recalled seeing Hook open for Marianas Trench in Thunder Bay a few years ago as a fan.
“Four or five years later, now I get to write a song with him – it was super cool!”
Before the pandemic, they travelled to bigger centres like Toronto, Vancouver, and Seattle to record and play shows. Opportunity seemed to beckon, starting with the ill-fated trip to L.A.
In the Zoom era, though, the pandemic didn’t set them back for long, as they launched into remote recording sessions with Vancouver-based producer Jeff Dawson from their home, hanging up sheets in their bedroom to construct a makeshift vocal booth.
The group has laid down 23 fully-produced tracks toward a debut album, produced largely by Dawson, with several other songs helmed by Poettcker, who wrote Surfing in L.A. with the siblings over Zoom.
Will, a first-year university student, and Charlie, a Grade 11 student, would often stay up late into the night to work with their West Coast collaborators, operating on a three-hour time difference.
Fans can expect to hear more of that new music sometime in the fall, they said.
While the group might sometimes embrace a maximalist approach in studio, they can show a more intimate side in their live performances, built around tight harmonies and instrumentation.
“It’s always been sort of a two-man show – Charlie’s on the piano, I’m on the guitar, and we switch it up every now and then, our dad joins in with guitar,” Will explained.
They might end up with a polished pop gem, but their ideas begin more stripped down, they said.
“It always starts with an acoustic version,” said Will. “When we write, we write on guitar, we write on piano, and we play it in our bedroom 10,000 times.”
After playing just a handful of socially distanced and virtual shows over the past year, the duo said they’re eager to start playing to live audiences again once it’s safe to do so.
Have you spotted breaking news? Police, fire, and other stories of interest in our community? Then we want to hear from you. If we use your photo or your tip leads to a story being published on our site, you'll be entered into a draw for a monthly prize. Send us your photos and your news tip to email@example.com and win!