Dwayne Gretzky’s adventure to becoming one of Canada’s most celebrated party/cover bands, started in the same way most bands began their stories too – haphazardly in the basement.
“We just had this jam space in the basement of the apartment that we shared with other people who lived there. We’d go watch Leafs games down there and we would just jam. Dwayne Gretzky was formed without ever thinking that we’d play a show, we just had been jamming for three or four years learning songs. We didn’t even have a name for our first gig, until Nick [Rose] told the audience that we were called Dwayne Gretzky. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, that’s a pretty good name, I guess we’re a band now,” explained frontman Tyler Kyte.
It all started as just friends having fun in the basement, and then the professional band, Sweet Thing, that Ktye and Rose were apart of, fizzled out and broke up. The two were able to quickly shift their efforts to Dwayne Gretzky, play some gigs and start growing the band.
Fast forward a couple of years, and now, with over 600 songs under their belts and 10 members in the band, Dwayne Gretzky has morphed into something much bigger than they had ever expected. They even have a freshly released debut covers album that came out this past August.
“The whole point of the album to begin with was that we had gigged so much, and played so many live shows, and because we’re a cover band, we never had the opportunity to go into the studio. We had always thought of what we would do if we could go into the studio and eventually we just decided to take some of our favourite songs and try different things with them,” said Kyte.
Recorded at The Bathouse in Kingston, ON, and self-produced by the band, the Self Titled release was created over a span of two years, in which the band would return to the studio to work on a couple songs at each session, because “organizing all these people can be a full time job in itself.”
On their record you can hear their takes on the Abba tune “S.O.S.”, Queen of the Stone Age’s “Make It Wit Chu”, or The Beach Boy’s “Don’t Worry Baby.” The album consists of a combination of both experimental re-imaginings, and faithful note-for-note versions.
“I think one of the things that makes everything so much fun is that we are able to celebrate these songs and do something different with them, but we can also do interpretations where we lift each note for note too,” explained Kyte.
One of the reasons Dwayne Gretzky has been able to continue to grow while establishing themselves, is due to the fact that there are no egos within the band. Well, that and a killer live show. Kyte suggested that it’s much different for their group, because they’re not trying to sell their music. They’re trying to sell a certain type of nostalgia, or an experience.
“No matter how much you try and keep your ego in check in an original band, things will always come up because your ideas are coming forward and you’re constantly having to put yourself out there,” said Ktye.
“We’re just learning other people’s music. I have so much respect for bands playing original music, because I know that feeling of writing a song and watching people respond to it. It’s the ultimate compliment. There’s a lot of great music out there, but sometimes people want to go for a night of entertainment. It’s become a lot about the curation and about what songs you’re playing, and we keep challenging ourselves to learn songs that are bigger and better.”