Spotlight On Niagara



By David DeRocco                   

Covid-19 may have brought live music to a screeching halt across Niagara, but it didn’t bring an end to the creativity flowing into new music.

Take Niagara punk-rock trio WHATZERNAME for example. Featuring primary songwriter/guitarist Ashley Standish, bassist Clarissa Rose and drummer Jesse Gold, WHATZERNAME took the time to finally wrap up the recording of their self-titled EP, WHATZERNAME, which was released this summer. Mixed locally by Joe Lapinski and remastered by Jeff Fedge, the music is what you might expect from a band that grew up on Green Day and who took their name from a song on American Idiot. What’s surprising, however, its that Standish began her musical journey as a classically trained pianist.

“While I have been studying classical piano most of my life, I have also been studying guitar,” said Standish, who has played keys since the age of six and studied with the Royal Conservatory of Music. “I pretty much got into punk rock when I was 13. It’s definitely more of the musical choice that I would listen to.”

Besides a love for Green Day, Standish said her attraction to punk was partially due to its broad lyrical subject matter and aggressive energy.

“I just feel people don’t quite understand punk rock,” she said. “Not to say I’m an expert. Punk rock to me is just really fast aggressive songs that have a deeper meaning. It talks about society and a lot of political and world issues, feminist issues. These are the kind of lyrics that speak to me more than contemporary pop lyrics. Musically it may seem like a big different, but ultimately that’s because you’re seeing a different side of me.”

The first single from the new EP is a great example. “Freedom” is a tongue-in-cheek anthem written for those working in minimum wage jobs in a first-world society. According to band press, the song “addresses the idea of social responsibility, and how hard it is to stay sane while being poor and impossibly trying to get ahead.” Like most good punk, it’s written from the perspective of the poor and downtrodden, the marginalized who face limitations because of the financial barriers that exist due to wealth disparities in affluent cultures.

“Heart of the Undead” is another new track that takes aim as the social status quo. It also happens to be one of her favourites according to Standish. “I think a lot of the songs talks about just enjoying being alive, living this life. It describes someone who isn’t dead yet, someone who has got to just keep trying. I also like the harmonies and the singing on it. I feel it’s got a good rock start to it.”

Despite the weighty social issues woven into the lyrics, Standish and her bandmates in WHATZERNAME are united in their desire to deliver edgy and fierce music that’s great to perform live. It’s been a constant thread woven into their music since their 2019 breakthrough single, “Something.” With COVID-19 restrictions lifting and the live scene slowly creeping back to life, WHATZERNAME will be getting back on stage in the very near future, although Ashley is all set for a solo show October 21st at the Warehouse. In the meantime, Standish says the band will continue to focus on making more music.

“I feel like right now is the time when we should be writing and collaborating and coming together with new stuff. We’re not jumping out there to play s how, although we look forward to playing together when we can. We’re just being productive and completing the game plan.”

As for where the leader and songwriter sees that plan leading in the future, Standish has a quick answer.

“I would just love to be travelling and playing. I’d love to play New York City and some other places. I just want to play music, share it with an audience and explore.

Watch “Freedom” via YouTube Here:>



Spotify — *Whatzername*


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