It hasn’t taken long for Coldstare to become a hit with local music fans.
Playing a collection of cover tunes that were recorded long before any members of the band were born, the five Grade 10 students from the Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS) have already developed a following in the region.
They have played at events in the southeast, including the draw night for the Pop in to Win contest offered by Estevan Mercury Publications and Power Dodge. Approximately 600 people were in attendance, and they raved about the musical talents of the performers.
It’s been a quick rise for the group, consisting of lead vocalist Katie Ostrander, lead guitarist London Christenson, bassist Keagan Wilhelm, drummer Ashton Holmgren and rhythm guitarist/pianist YoonSuh Jang.
Coldstare started at a talent show at Spruce Ridge School, when London, Keagan and Ashton were performing with another friends.
“We formed a month right before the talent show, and the talent show was right at the end of the school year,” London said. “We had a month to learn how to play one song, which is a basic song, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.”
The performance went over well, and then YoonSuh joined the band. They practised throughout their Grade 8 year, and they played at the We Day Festival at Spruce Ridge, and at the school’s Grade 8 farewell and talent show at the school.
In their Grade 9 year, the quartet played at the United Way Estevan telethon, the McLeod Series basketball games and the school’s talent show. It was after a performance at the school’s choir performance that Katie joined the band.
“They played without a singer,” said Katie. “At the talent show, when they played, you could tell they were really, really talented, but you could tell there was a little something missing.”
At that point, she stepped forward to sing.
“We were looking for a singer for the longest time. And we were just about to ask her, too, but then she came up to us,” said London.
Having a lead singer changes the band a lot. They can’t just have the instrumentalists up on the stage and jamming. They need to have that timing with the singer.
“When you’re the singer, it fills that space that was missing,” said London.
“It used to be every man for himself,” added YoonSuh.
“Before she came on board, we were just trying to one up each other sound-wise, and as soon as she joined, we all decided we should turn back and make sure everyone can be heard equaliy,” said Keagan.
In recent months, they have played at a car show, in the Bienfait parade and at the Pop in to Win draw.
The members of ColdStare credit their parents for their love of classic rock, alternative and other older musical genres.
“The main thing I like with the music is the older stuff, they have important melodies and catchy lyrics. Music just sounds better and it has better feelings,” said London.
Most of the songs they hear when listening to satellite radio and other sources sound like they could be coming from the same band, but they’re not.
“Some bands sound good, but the ones that are back from the 1980s, everyone loves,” said Keagan.
Upcoming gigs will be at a golf tournament on Aug. 16 and at an event for ExCel Fitness on Aug. 17 – a busy weekend just before they venture into Grade 10.
“Every time we have a gig, we get better and better,” Katie said. “This one for the Mercury, we practised several days in a row, so that changed a lot of things. We just get better every time, and we’re more used to each other now.”
“The other thing is before, we learned from our mistakes, such as tuning or strings breaking or the high hat coming down or falling down,” added Ashton.
People who have heard the band play have been very impressed. London noted that he has even been asked if the band could play at a wedding.
YoonSuh believes the classic hits have been able to make more of an impact on people.
Most band members have a favourite they enjoy playing. London said he likes playing Tornado of Souls by Megadeth, because it is a demanding song. It’s a fast song, but there’s an adrenaline rush when they play it properly.
Katie and Ashton, meanwhile, enjoy playing Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue, because it sounds so great. Katie likes Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses, while Keagan couldn’t pick a favourite. YoonSuh is a fan of Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth.
“A lot of modern day music, people usually tune down the guitars and go down to a low key to make something that heavy,” said YoonSuh. “But that’s what I appreciate about it, is they don’t have to tune down or cheat to make that heavy song.”
Coldstare also had their own original music that they’re currently working on. Eight songs have been composed, although they still have some work remaining on some of them. They played three of them at the McLeod Series games, before Katie joined the band.
One day, they hope to release an album of their original music.
“Our originals are a little bit more heavy than the 80s stuff, but they have the melodies like the 80s stuff,” said London.
The band will use the money they raise from their gigs this summer to purchase some bigger main speakers, which will allow the band to sound even better.