This past summer I had the privilege of finally getting to see Chicago's mightly LowDown Brass Band live, in the flesh, for the first – and I sincerely hope not the last – time. The powerful band dazzled me instantly when I stumbled across their cover of the ska classic “Ghost Town” sometime in early 2018. As soon as the sweet sounds hit my ear drums, I knew this was a band that I HAD to witness live.
And as if I had willed it into existence, this past summer (2019) they touched down in my hometown, Victoria, British Columbia, for the first time. Part of the landmark 20th Anniversary Victoria Ska & Reggae Festival, LowDown left a huge impression on the crowd – with many people, including the Festival Director, telling me that LowDown was the surprise/new discovery of the festival. One of the most engaging stage shows I've seen in a long time, the interplay both between the band and the audience, and the members of the band with each other, was next level and made it genuinely impossible to dislike anything they were laying down. Deft players and personable dudes, LowDown Brass Band is a band you need to see if you like big brass sounds, hip-hop, funk or really, if you just like getting so LowDown. Go out of your way to see this band before they blow up in the stratosphere (Which is happening incredibly quickly right now it seems). Shortly before they landed here in Victoria, we got ahold of sousaphone player Lance Loiselle in amongst the chaos of relentless touring, for a little instalment of the 5 Questions in which we cover daredevil kayaking, the importance of practice and a theoretical days with a pair of musical legends.
1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
Probably Off the Wall or Purple Rain.
Both classics. If you had to take one to listen to right now, which one you going for?
Probably Michael Jackson. Prince was one of my favourites, but so was Michael Jackson. All that Quincy Jones stuff is classic. Quincy's from Chicago too. He brings that Chicago horn sound to every single thing he touched for Michael Jackson.
2. When's the last time you did something for the first time?
It had to be last summer. I went kayaking in glacial waters. It wasn't that easy.
Had you been kayaking in non-glacial waters?
Glacial waters are like 30 or 40 degrees. You fall in and you're instantly numb. You're gonna fall in. Someone will go in. The river we were on was called Wrong Way.
3. Whoa, that's ominous. If you were being abducted by aliens and you got take one piece of culture with you to preserve, what would you take?
Probably a Beatles album. They're iconic and well-loved throughout the years. They changed music forever, in a major way. Most people in the world love them. I love the Beatles. I used to hate the Beatles. Until Leonard Bernstein said they were the best songwriters to ever live, and I was like, “Oh, I should probably listen to these guys.”
4. What's the last thing that made you belly laugh? You know, those deep, real laughs...
I don't know exactly. It's been awhile. When you're hanging out with your friends, you're all high. And then somebody starts laughing and then you start laughing and then everybody's laughing and no one can remember what you're laughing about. It's contagious man.
5. If you could spend the day with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do (You could, if you really want, name one living person and one dead person also.)
If it was someone dead, it would be Dr. John. Because I always really loved him music and I never saw him live, and now he's gone. Tribute to that guy. Living.... Jay-Z. I'd pick his brain about business, get some insights. Play him some of my beats, some of that LowDown shit.
6. Today's guest question comes from Tom McGuire from Tom McGuire and Brassholes.
The Brassholes! <laughs> That's a great name.
They're a Scottish Band and they're fucking awesome. His question is... Do you think that you practice enough?
I definitely don't practice enough. I'm a piano player and I stopped playing the sousaphone – I play the sousaphone in the band – and I stopped playing sousaphone for a good couple of years. My dad's garage burned down and my sousaphone when up with it, so I got a new one with the insurance money when the brass brand started. I've always been a piano player first but playing with this band has definitely made me play a lot more sousaphone. But I don't practice enough. I practice, but I don't practice enough. Practicing for me should be like practicing four hours a day. I'm like an hour a day kinda guy.