clockwise from top; dan smith, bob pike, chris andrews, mark hiscockNamed after a Maritime Sasquatch legend, Sasquatch is one of Newfoundland’s proudest wavers of the pop/traditional flag and the Maritimes’ brightest shining stars, they’ve steadily built their following among Newfoundlanders and mainlanders since the late 90’s, spreading their message from coast to coast.

The band got their start by accident, when guitarist Chris Andrews and Mark Hiscock were originally playing in separate bands. But a booking mistake in a St. John’s nightclub one night changed that. “We were on stage together for a few sets, and it just seemed like it would work. The rest is history,” Andrews joked.

After recruiting drummer Dan Smith and Bob Pike on bass, they released THE LONG HAUL in ’98, then LIVE AT O’REILLY’S VOLUME 1 in 2000. Next up was SCALLYWAGS in ’02 and SET YOU FREE in ’04, followed by the aptly titled CHRISTMAS lp the same year, which featured the original “The Star of Logy Bay.” Andrews commented it’s not always been easy, but he manages to still keep it all in perspective. “After the first album, I think we just started touring a lot more and it just sort of developed from there. We worked the markets pretty hard and people are still enjoying the shows. I’m not sure we’ve really had our ‘big break,’ yet, though,” he joked.

Following in the footsteps of other Maritime artists like Ashley MacIsaac, McGuinty, The Irish Rovers and Great Big Sea to name but a few has been a daunting task, but has also made their journey a safer road to travel in a lot of ways. “Those guys were all groundbreakers in every sense of the word in getting traditional Newfoundland music out there, just like Ryan’s Fancy and a few others. They’ve all opened it up to a lot more ears,” he commented.

And while other acts have left the rock and at times forgotten their roots to varying degrees of success, Shanneyganock has dug their heels in. Their reward has been audiences across the country, charmed by their stirring ballads, foot-stomping shanties, and rib-rattling jigs. The band has earned several coveted awards, and been showcased at the 2007 Canadian Country Music Association’s (CCMA) show in New Brunswick. They’ve had a number of breakout songs through their career, including “Twice Daily,” “I’m Going To Set You Free,” “St. John’s Girls” and “The Budgell’s Jig.”

Their sixth album was released in 2006, FLING OUT THE FLAG, featuring new drummer Mike Clark. Poduced by Bob Hallett of Great Big Sea, Andrews commented that staying true to themselves has been the underlying key to their success, as well as the genre’s most endearing quality – honesty. “Most Newfoundland musicians, the good ones anyway, they play with emotion and heart, and it’s honest music. It’s not really made up. The guy or girl playing it gets just as excited as the people listening to it,” he remarked.

Acknowledging the band’s sound has evolved over the years, so has their approach to recording. “Like anything, you learn more about the process and plus after playing together for so long, fortunately we play together so much better. It’s the same as when we’re in the studio, really,” Andrews said.

Finding a producer who understands the message the band is trying to convey is pivotal in the studio, something Andrews feels fortunate they’ve been blessed in having each time they’ve set out to make a new album. “A lot of times we’re sort of on the same wavelengths anyway. But just the different approach, plus they understand how to get the best sound out of you. When you get the four guys in the band together you try to get your points across when you try to produce something yourselves. When you have a producer, at the end of the day it’s him that makes that final decision, saying, ‘This is what I want’.”

He continued, “Sometimes you might be put off by a sound here or something else there, but as you listen to the song build you can almost see where it’s headed, and you’re thinking ahead. A producer has an image in hisfrom left; chris andrews, mark hiscock, bob pike, mike clark mind of what he wants to hear. And sometimes you put the pieces that don’t actually fit at the time together. As the song matures and more and more is built around it, it sounds amazing. That’s what an outside voice brings to the table. With all the producers we’ve worked with, it’s been clear that our core sound stays there. It’s more a case of building what’s around the core of the song. That’s the building process, but the actual sound is still more or less ‘us’.”

In 2009, they released VII, which featured the hits “Saltfish Trader,” “Skalara Hat,” and “Blow Ye Winds.” Andrews noted that staying true to themselves comes out in the music, and that’s the main thing. “To us, it’s that both us and our fans feel good about it. We’re gaining new audiences all the time. And that’s great, but we haven’t really changed much. We’re still pretty much doing our own thing. It’s what our fans like, and it’s what we like to do. As long as when the album comes out we can listen to it and be proud of it, and the fans still like it and think it’s well done, we’re happy.” If someone at their show is simply tapping his toes, Andrews says the band hasn’t done its job. “You can look forward to a lot of fun, pure and simple. We want to make you get up and dance.”

  • With notes from Chris Andrews