The Seahags, Saskatoon’s sassy musical sweet-tarts, like to classify themselves as ‘old-timey country garage’ with a honky-tonk/grunge edge. These busy bees have played over 30 shows in the past year in Saskatoon, rural areas, and in houses and venues across the province and Alberta.
Riki Yandt and April Nechvatel, the original Seahags, have come a long way since commiserating over a break up two years ago. They’ve since quadrupled their roster, plugged in and started rocking the hell out.
“We had been friends, but after I broke up with my girlfriend at the time, April kind of became my person to whine to,” joked Riki, lead guitarist and homemade stompbox player. “We got to talking about music one day and had this crazy idea to start a band, so we did it!”
Soon after, the duo became a trio by adding mutual friend and mandobird wonder Kayla Hummeny. In the fall of 2010, drummer Brenda Jackson was added to the mix. The band is rounded out with bassist Joanna Graves and fiddle-player Lauren Tastad.
The Seahags started off playing a few folk classics, and although these girls love their acoustics, they felt like they needed to move on.
“We did some open mic nights, and then got shows playing old folks’ homes and greenhouses,” said banjo player/vocalist April.
“In 2010 it felt like something was missing, and wanted to change from acoustic to electric. We just want to always keep evolving our sound. We added Brenda, who knows, well, everyone, so we were able to get a ton more shows. Joanna was a great addition. We were also very lucky to add Lauren to the mix. That’s why we made her dress up as Jesus for Halloween, ‘cause she totally saved us.”
Riki credits the success of the band on a few different things.
“We’d be a party band for sure,” she said. “But we focus on being entertaining and just having a great time with our music. And we’ll pretty much do any kind of event; as long as we can all make it. And we’ll always play for cheesecake, beer or food.”
One of their favourite shows out of many was playing a secret house show with one of their favourite country bands, One Hundred Dollars on Halloween.
“They told us they liked us, which was a huge compliment because they’re our favourite,” said April. “Things like that, and seeing people sing along to our songs at shows kind of blow us away!”
2011 also saw the ‘Hags first EP, and they’re currently completing their gospel album. Yes, a gospel album.
“We found gospel, not God with this album,” said April. “It’s more about the style than the lyrics or actually the religious aspect of it. The stage dynamic with gospel music is really cool, with lots of call-and-answer themes and a bluegrass feel. There are a couple traditional covers, and a couple songs that question religion for sure. It’s not your typical gospel album, psychedelic and haggard would be two words I’d use.”
Their goals for 2012 include hopefully doing a summer tour (as long as they can secure a reliable and affordable tour van), a music video and a full-length album in spring.
Their fans tend to have as much fun (or more) than the ‘Hags do.
“I really don’t ever stop smiling when I come to one of their shows,” said Rich Taylor, superfan and sometimes sound guy. “They have such a blast on stage and that energy spreads to anyone who sees them perform. They are easily one of my favourites from Saskatoon for sure!”
Catch the Seahags live:
December 9th, 2011 at The Fez
January 7th, 2011 at Amigos with Feral Children
— Photos by Judy Lewd.