Eric Daigle: Migrating from Moncton

May 9th, 2016 by  |  Published in Features

Cheap Whine

Eric Daigle (left) formed Cheap Whine with Steve Adamyk (Steve Adamyk Band, Sedatives) and Jordan Bell (Creeps, Crusades) soon after relocating to Ottawa.

Punk rocker Eric Daigle spent years in the Moncton punk scene, but finds himself at home after moving to Ottawa

Every city has many different music communities and scenes, and nine times out of 10, you’ll be able to track down a local group of punks and a handful of loud, fast punk bands.

During the late 1990s in Moncton, New Brunswick, the scene was just beginning to wind down after a recent surge of bands and music. Local band Eric’s Trip had become a success, signing with Sub Pop Records and setting a precedent for what could be accomplished on the East Coast. After they broke up, the members achieved moderate and ongoing success in their next projects. These events were exciting times for the Moncton music scene and inspired all kinds of momentum within it—for a while.

When the turn of the century came around, Moncton had survived the Y2K scare, but the music scene hadn’t been quite as lucky. There were bands and certain individuals doing what they could to keep it thriving, but the “post-Eric’s Trip” days were settling in.

One Eric ends trip, another begins
Around this same time, Eric Daigle was going to high school in the small town of Riverview, just across the bridge, and was seeing local high school bands for the first time.  He instantly wanted to be in a band himself.

As a young punk with no musical ability to speak of, Eric bugged musicians he knew and kids from school to jam with him, but nobody was really that interested. He couldn’t play anything, which was definitely not helping entice any potential bandmates, but he figured he could probably sing if he had to. This is the initial thought process of most punk singers/musicians: “I could probably do that.”

Eventually, he began hanging around with Derrick Lounder, a slightly older punk enthusiast. They started out drinking in Lounder’s apartment, where he would play Green Day and Descendents songs on the acoustic guitar while Eric would drunkenly sing along. This naturally transitioned into jamming and original music, laying the groundwork for what would eventually become their first official band, Fear of Lipstick.

Fear of Lipstick was a fast and snotty punk band with the pop sensibilities and melodic catchiness of bands like the Ramones or Green Day. By 2003, the band had released a 12-track EP and were playing house parties and shows as often as possible, joining a healthy influx in the local punk scene that included bands like Hope, the Adhesives, the Fuckhead Bastards, and Sour Grapes. Eric joined another band, the Varsity Weirdos, who despite forming a few years after Lipstick, spent more time playing outside of the city and province.

A match made in Moncton
Soon, Fear of Lipstick played with touring Ottawa punk band the Million Dollar Marxists. The Marxists were Eric’s first exposure to Ottawa music, and the two bands connected immediately, with Eric becoming especially close with Marxists frontman Luke Martin. It was this connection that led both Fear of Lipstick and the Varsity Weirdos to favour playing with Ottawa punk bands whenever any would visit the Maritimes.

Both the Varsity Weirdos and Fear of Lipstick started making the trip to Ottawa when they could, playing with the Marxists at first, and eventually meeting and befriending bands like the Creeps.

Eric’s long-time partner Ilisha, who played guitar and sang for the Kamalas, was also learning about and becoming more and more interested in the Ottawa punk scene at this time, hearing “Sydney Snakes” by the Visitors and “All the Way Home” by the Creeps on a Halifax radio show, Rocket to Russia. She began ordering their albums online, developing an appreciation for the Visitors in particular and reaching out to them on Myspace. As these bands (as well as Big Dick and the White Wires) began playing the East Coast more often, Eric and Ilisha put them up at their house—strengthening the relationship they shared.

They noticed very early on the near-incestuous nature of the Ottawa punk scene, with a large number of bands interconnected through shared members. There was a general excitement being perpetuated by the constant releases, interesting events and consistent formations of new bands that made the city seem much more alive than Moncton. It only made sense that Fear of Lipstick, the Kamalas, and the Varsity Weirdos would all end up playing in the city as often as possible, growing their roots deeper into it every time.

Eric and Ilisha eventually played Ottawa at least once a year, and they maintained connections by touring with area bands often. Fear of Lipstick and the Creeps, in particular, formed a pretty tight connection, touring together frequently and releasing a split 7 inch, each covering one of each other’s songs.

Ottawa Explosion festival
A major staple in the foundation of Ottawa’s punk scene for many years now has been the Ottawa Explosion, forming out of the ashes of the short-lived Gaga Fest. Ottawa Gaga Weekend, brain-child of the White Wires’ Ian Manhire, was a way to showcase upwards of 20 bands over a weekend for 17 bucks. It was very focused on bands from the Ottawa scene, but included out of town acts as well, like Montreal’s Sonic Avenues. With bands like the Marxists involved in the weekend, Eric and Ilisha inevitably caught wind of it and were instantly eager to involve their bands.

Unfortunately for them, the weekend ended up getting canceled before they ever got a chance to play it, but this ended up being a blessing in disguise, allowing them to become involved with the Ottawa Explosion in it’s first and formative stages.

Both the Kamalas and Fear of Lipstick were blown away by the festival and returned to play it every year from then on. Both Eric and Ilisha were impressed by how it managed to harness all the scenes within the city, wrangling them into one controlled pulse of energy. The unwavering success of the festival solidified how unified and active Ottawa’s punk scene was in comparison to others, with its members constantly working on something.

Eric found Ottawa’s scene inspiring, often trying to do what he could to tap into a similar unified energy in Moncton. Working at one of the main used-record stores in town, as well as running his own independent record label, Fucking Scam, he was certainly active in Moncton’s punk and music community and tried to help move it forward whenever he could. Taking a note from the Going Gaga Records compilation album, Ottawa Gaga: Volume One—a compilation made up of previously unreleased tracks from area bands all recorded with the same equipment, Eric attempted to put together a compilation of his own to showcase Moncton’s punk bands.

Struggling to unite a scene
To his disappointment, after getting commitments from 15 bands about writing and recording one new track over a six-month period, he ended up with only two songs. An extension of the deadline yielded just two more. It was a depressing and defeating moment for Eric, who felt let down after putting the effort and energy out there to help his scene, only to have it give practically nothing in return.

The Moncton scene definitely had its shining moments, and it had a weirdness and enthusiasm that would manifest at makeshift house shows and strange little rock bars that you’d be hard pressed to replicate in other cities, but it could also be a dead zone. There are bands being formed all the time, but a lack of initiative characterizes the scene. It was witnessing the momentum and eagerness of Ottawa bands that shook Eric out of that funk himself, motivating him to actually push his bands outside of his own scene and province. These efforts proved fruitful on occasion, but the stagnant nature of Moncton was beginning to get old.

Around 2012, Eric and Ilisha started collaborating for the first time (with the exception of occasional one-off cover sets) writing dark and catchy punk tunes. With Ilisha on drums, Eric on guitar and both singing, they then added Jesse Leblanc on bass. Jesse had played in the Kamalas and Thalidomy Kids with Ilisha and worked with Eric at Spin-It Records, so the three of them were already close. They wasted little time putting out an EP as Feral Trash in 2013 and playing the Explosion each year after that. They released their first full length, the very well-received Trashfiction, in October of 2014.

New city, new direction
In 2014, Ilisha made the decision to go back to school. She was sick of slinging coffee in downtown Moncton, so Eric and herself both agreed that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to get a change of scenery. Ottawa made the most sense. Feral Trash wouldn’t have to disband, and they could bring Jesse up for annual shows or Explosions. They already had so many good friends there that they knew they would fit in immediately.

Although there were complications and delays with Ilisha’s schooling, they made the move in late August with Eric getting a job working at Gabba Hey!, owned by Luke Martin who had been his initial contact with the Ottawa scene many years before.

Eric and Ilisha had no issues fitting into Ottawa, were among friends, and were even able to bring Jesse up to play House of Targ only a few months after the move, their first year was far from comfortable. Money was tight and Ilisha’s school situation was essentially halted for a year, but they still managed to scrape up enough to hit up Targ on the weekends and stay sociable. They eventually started adjusting, and with Eric finding new jobs (he is now a very knowledgeable/semi-passionate seller of Japanese knives) the pressure began to slowly decrease, but if it hadn’t been for Martin and Gabba Hey! in the beginning, he very well may have caved and moved home.

Two years later, Eric and Ilisha were finally able to start forming new bands—officially embedding themselves into the local scene. It was only a matter of time before their various connections lead to them joining the giant orgy that is the Ottawa punk scene.

Cheap Whine and beyond
Before the move, Fear of Lipstick was playing around with the idea of getting back together, but  the idea lost steam in the process. Because of this, Eric was sitting on a few songs in that similar upbeat style. He reached out to Steve Adamyk of the Steve Adamyk Band, and many others. Steve, having known Eric since being a member of Million Dollar Marxists, was immediately in and ended up drunkenly recruiting Jordy Bell of the Creeps at a party to be on drums. Shortly after this, Cheap Whine was formed and have since played one show with plans for more in the future.

It’s interesting to note that the Marxists and the Creeps were the first two bands to connect Eric to Ottawa. Continuing along that pattern, Ilisha and Eric recently started another new band together called Chiller with Tim Ostler, the drummer of the Million Dollar Marxists, and Erin of the Visitors on bass.

With a few upcoming shows for both new bands, as well as slots at the Ottawa Explosion, it’s safe to say that the two of them are officially on the scene. I’m sure both Chiller and Cheap Whine will play and produce great tunes going forward, inevitably becoming absorbed by the city and repurposed into ten other bands over a handful of years. I, for one, am excited to see what a couple of punks from Moncton, New Brunswick, will bring to a scene that they’ve admired from a not-so-far distance for nearly the last 15 years.


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