Upside of Maybe releases EP, full-length album in the works

Michael Bannerman, the lead singer of Upside of Maybe, has tried to find the positives for his band during the pandemic.

“I think a lot of musicians I know have been home so much they’re just writing songs like crazy, and they have a lot of material,” the Stratford frontman said.

That includes Bannerman and his brother and bandmate, Scott, who have written seven songs for Upside’s upcoming full-length album that should be released some time in 2022. One of those songs was included in the band’s second EP, All Who Wander, which dropped this week.

“It’s a bit eclectic,” Bannerman said of the four-track project, most of which was written pre-pandemic.

All Who Wander, the opening self-titled track with a blues/alt country sound, was scribbled on a cigar box guitar in Saskatchewan a couple of summers ago. The band had always wanted to record it, but it never seemed to get done – until COVID-19 gave them time.

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Mr. Sad Eyes has a pop vibe and features a brass arrangement that was booked to record in New Orleans last March when the pandemic broke out. The virus forced the band to use Skype to collaborate with the musicians in Louisiana.

The Moment I Knew was written during the first lockdown in the spring and features Kitchener-Waterloo cellist Cynthia Martens Steele. The pop ballad debuted at No. 86 on the Canadian Independent Country Music chart and continues to climb.

Rainmaker has garnered the most attention. The second song on the EP tackles “truth and reconciliation” with a story based on the history of residential schools in Canada. Indigenous group Okama added its own touch to the track with percussion, throat singing, chanting and wood flute.

The song is a finalist in the 2020 World Songwriting Awards’ collaboration category

“There’s a lot of different feelings that go into it,” Bannerman said.

The quintet, which includes two musicians from London (guitarist David Dresser and drummer Troy Lockyer) and one from Lambton Shores (bassist John Munroe), has been together for about 15 years. After chasing record deals and stardom with different bands early in their careers, they’ve settled into a sweet spot where recording music is a passion project, and touring is mostly done at their convenience.

“It’s a nice pace, and nice to be able to do little tours in the summer and take breaks,” Bannerman said. “You do hit a wall sometimes, and maybe get a call to play a festival in Newfoundland, and you think, ‘That would be awesome,’ but you can’t get time off work, and five guys are juggling other priorities.”

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Years ago, the band would have hit the road to support their latest project and try to further their careers. One of their first stops would have been northern Ontario, where Rainmaker is already popular.

“We’ve been on those tours with 29 shows in 30 days across the country, and they were awesome at 21,” Bannerman said, “but when you’re hitting 50 it’s a different animal.”

With the province under another lockdown, Bannerman and his Upside of Maybe bandmates will continue to write music and put together their second album, along with videos for a few songs.

“That’s been a healthy thing about this process,” Bannerman said, “is that musicians are rethinking how they do things – Facebook Live shows, videos, to get it out there, but it’s weird playing to a wall.”

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