The Ontario band’s signature multi-part vocal harmonies are bigger and more upfront nowadays. The feel-good party songs from the band’s Till The Wheels Come Off (2015) debut have also given way to a warm and more reflective look at the people and places around them for their new Homemade EP.
Cold Creek County have a new singer, with Dalmeny, Saskatchewan’s (population 1,702) Ches Anthony taking over centre stage duties. Cold Creek County is now fully a six piece band with Banjo/vocalist Jordan Honsinger brought on full time after touring with CCC for the past 18 months.
After an exhaustive hunt, the band discovered vocal/multi-instrumentalist Ches Anthony in a surprising way — by typing in the search term “great singer” into YouTube. The search led to a whirlwind courtship.
“I said, ‘Could you come down for a tryout?'” recalls Doug Oliver, Cold Creek County’s drummer, “And Ches said, ‘Yeah, I could come down in about three weeks.” I said, ‘Can you come down in three days?’ It was a Friday and he was here two days later.”
“We did a week of tryouts. They said, ‘You’re the guy’ and I never left,” continues Anthony, who’s resume includes ice road trucking, working the oil patch and corralling wild boars in addition to doggedly trying to make a go of it as a professional musician. “I just had a backpack full of clothes. I had to go buy more underwear.”
“Ches is quite a musician and a real pro,” says lead guitarist Trevor MacLeod. “His style is really natural and that drew us to him.”
Anthony should fit right in with a band that also includes Josh Lester (Guitar, Vocals), Trevor MacLeod (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Justin Lester (Bass, Vocals) and Jordan Honsinger (Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals). Like most of Cold Creek County, Anthony grew up in a musical family in a small town. One that cared about getting the music right.
“My mom, if I even hit a flat note I’d basically get a ruler on the hand and an, ‘If you can’t sing on key don’t sing at all,'” recalls Anthony with a chuckle. “She pushed me really hard to at least sing on key.”
That training is on fine display on Homemade, the first of two upcoming releases, with the second EP scheduled later down the road. Produced and mixed by Scott Cooke (Florida Georgia Line, Nickelback) and Oliver, Homemade showcases a new, more mature side of Cold Creek County pushing the bands vocal harmonies to the forefront.
“On this record we are experimenting a lot more”, says MacLeod of the band that was nominated for Breakthrough Group of the Year at the 2017 Juno Awards. “This time it’s a little bit more organic and on top of the vocals with a lot more harmonies.”
“It’s about where you’re from,” says Anthony. “That whole brotherhood kind of thing. It’s wearing it on your sleeve saying, ‘We’re homemade, we’re brothers, this is where we’re from,’ and being proud of where you’re from. We’re family. It’s that kind of song.”
“This Town Is You” reflects on the one that got away.
“It’s the story of a guy who was in love with somebody in a specific little town,” says Oliver. “The guy has moved on but every time he comes back through that little town he’s constantly reminded of that time he’s spent with that person that he loves.”
Other songs, like the not-actually-about-money, “Money,” transport the band to uplifting back porch playarounds. It is music that would fit naturally sandwiched in a playlist featuring the likes of Dallas Smith, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line and Dierks Bentley.
It’s the sort of music that comes naturally for a band that rehearses in a converted barn where only one corner of the building that gets cellphone reception. It’s also all very consistent with the band’s small town/country worldview and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The values of small town life are really important,” says Honsinger. “The friends you grew up with, your parents, people are sometimes a lot closer. Those connections, our music is a lot about trying to have that.”
The band will be trying to forge a new series of connections when they hit the road for country music festivals and tour appearances.
“I’m excited with the songs and what Ches brings (and Jordan Honsinger). The harmonies immediately jumped up to the next level and the potential of what we can do now is amazing,” says Josh Lester of the band’s live show.
His brother agrees. “We’re bringing a lot of new things to the table,” says Justin Lester. “We can’t wait to put it out there.”