After Eric Lepp and Matthew Klassen’s previous band, The Lofty Pines burned up, the two decided that they liked writing songs and singing together so much together that they started a new one – Birds of Ontario.
“Continuing to not play in some capacity together wasn’t even an option. We knew we had a special musical connection and to not see this through would have felt — for me — like turning my back on something special,” explained Klassen.
The group started with the two of them playing acoustic guitars and singing, easily building songs organically that would eventually become their debut album Music for Animals.
“We put a lot of time and love into the whole process of making that record,” said Klassen. “It stretched us too, because all the songs on the record were folky acoustic tunes – two acoustic guitars and two voices.”
Since then, they have added Ben Goerzen on bass guitar and Chris Koop handling the skins.
“It has been interesting to experience the evolution of the band. When we started out, our songs were very folky,” said Lepp. “When we began recording Music for Animals, the music seemed to get a bit more rock and roll and that trend has continued since we’ve added more members.”
Lepp used to live in St. Catharines, but as of last year moved to Kingston. Klassen lives in Chippawa and Goerzen and Koop reside in St. Catharines. Lepp said that it has been a challenge keeping the band together, but Lepp and Klassen mutually agreed to keep the band going in whatever capacity they could.
“I’m not going to lie – having a lake in between us sucks. Eric has done an admirable job of continuing to write and record new ideas and I add in my two cents whenever I can,” said Klassen
“I’ve found it hard to maintain our creative prowess over such a distance. When we both lived in St. Catharines we were able to get together on a regular basis. But, we’ve been learning from it and growing from it.”
This past year the group has released two singles, ‘Guns’ and the ‘World Where I Was Born.’ The singles show off their newly honed ‘college/alternatve rock’ sound while delving into more mature and aware subject matter now that Lepp is the father to a new-born.
“I’ve been thinking about the kind of planet my son is inheriting from generations past. I’d personally like to see things progress in terms of our government being greener and not just talking about it,” he explained.
“It really pisses me off when assholes like Trump or Doug Ford don’t take environmental issues seriously. It’s like they’re directly saying to me, I don’t care about your son’s future.”
Birds of Ontario perform at Cicada Arts and Music Festival on October 13.