Meet the Band: The Town Heroes

Originally from Cape Breton, The Town Heroes are an Alternative Rock band that now call Halifax home. They have been for playing for almost 15 years, toured 9 countries, won multiple awards, and currently have 6 albums out. The band consists of two members – Mike Ryan (guitar, vocals) and Bruce Gillis (drums).

JFK once asked Mike’s grandmother out on a date, and Bruce got his first drum-kit from a clown. They love playing music and also making a lot of online content to entertain their fans.

We had the opportunity to chat with these two cool cats to learn more about the band, their creative process, and more!

the town heroes
Bruce Gillis (left) and Mike Ryan (right), members of The Town Heroes

What artists, movies, books, anything; inspires the band and members to make music?

There are so many! I—Mike— like consuming all forms of art and often find inspiration in experiencing the creations of others. When someone else does something really well, it’s like a template to learn from. Books are a big one. I’m a big fan of authors like Kerouac, Vonnegut, and Irvine Welsh. Also, there’s not much better than an incredibly bad movie like Titanic 2 to put a smile on your face.  

Your favourite bands, artists, or musicians?

The National, Radiohead, The Tragically Hip, Wintersleep, Lumineers, Kings of Leon, 90’s jams, 70’s classic rock

For those who don’t know your band, how would you describe your music?

We’re like a combination of Big Shiny Tunes 1-3 with a sprinkling of early Radiohead, Band of Horses, and 2 shots of whisky before going to a legion dance in rural Cape Breton. 

How has your musical taste changed from when you first started playing to your latest release?

I don’t think our taste has changed too much overall. We still appreciate a lot of the same bands, and lean towards alternative rock and a lot of the artist in that genre.  But, as you get a little older and start to get excited by air fryers and staying in on Saturday night looking at cat videos, you also start to appreciate some quieter, laid back folk as your soundtrack to navigate the settings on your Ninja Xl Dual Zone. 

Ultimately… at the end of the day, as long as artists are passionate about what they’re doing and putting their all into it, that’s the only thing that matters. 

What is your creative process for new songs?

Lately, I’ve been writing songs and bringing them to Bruce in the studio. I typically write a song—or part of a song—every time I pick up my guitar. Most of them are bad, but when I hit one that resonates in some way, I have to recognize that and capture the idea—usually with a voice memo. It’s typically guitar and a vocal melody with me just singing random words. I’ll take that rough idea and see what vibe it gives off and what story it’s trying to tell. From there, I’ll write and revise the lyrics and arrangement till it feels right. I’ll demo it in my studio, figure out tempos, and experiment with some different guitar parts. I’ll send that idea to Bruce and he’ll come up with a drum part. We’ll go into the studio to demo that and see what needs to be changed. Then we’ll go into the studio and track the real—to be released—version of it. If there’s something we want to capture but can’t play ourselves, we might bring in some sessional musicians at this point to help bring the song to life.

What is your favourite venue to perform at and what is your most memorable moment during a show?

Locally, The Carleton for intimate gigs, and The Marquee for big ol’ rock and roll bangers. One really memorable show is playing on a small, completely packed boat in Hamburg, Germany sailing around the harbour. When we started the show, no one there knew us. By the time we got to the second chorus in each song, every person on the boat knew the lyrics and sang them back as loud as they could. 

What other band, artist, or group would you love to collaborate with?

Wintersleep is a local band that has probably been our biggest influence. It would be cool to do anything  with them. And someone like Classified who’s not our style at all but incredible at what he does would be amazing to see what would come out of that. 

Are you familiar with other bands in the area? If so, which are your favourites?

The local scene is one of the best in the world. We’ve been playing for 15 years now, so we pretty much know everyone in the scene. There are SOOO many great artists here and we could go on for days. Some amazing artists we’ve played with or seen recently are Skunk Motel, Jackson Weldon, Maggie Andrew, and Elyse Aeryn. All great acts worth checking out!

What is your favourite song you have made and why?

The single we released in November, “In Your Head” is a really fun one. I think that stands out because musically, it’s really fun—it’s an upbeat, danceable song with lots of groove and catchy hooks. Lyrically, it’s juxtaposed with a serious topic. I’ve always liked songs that can be one thing on the surface, but there are layers to it if you want to go deeper.  

Where can people find your music and do you have any shows or new releases coming up?

Our songs are everywhere you can find music. We just released a song on February 23rd called “Dry Land” and we’ll be releasing a new single every month up until the summer. All of these songs will be a part of our album Singin’ which comes out in June. This will be our 7th full length album and we’re really excited for people to hear it in its entirety. 

Thank you Mike and Ryan for taking the time to answer our questions. Being able to achieve both sweaty and intimate, we think you two are doing great things and enjoy your music, In Your Head being one of our favourites!

Check out the The Town Heroes Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with them and engage with their content. The Town Heroes and their music can also be found on their website, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music.

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