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Arkells: a 3-song Junos primer

Andrea Warner

With 10 acts and artists confirmed to perform so far, this year’s Junos broadcast on Sunday, April 2, promises to be one of the biggest in the award ceremony’s history.

From emerging artists like Ruth B to established acts like Sarah McLachlan and Billy Talent, there’s something for every music fan, and there are also a lot of great opportunities to discover exciting, new-to-you artists for your earbuds —to punch up your playlists or add to your record collection, or scope out for when their tours come to your hometown.

Think of the live Junos broadcast as an opportunity to survey just a little bit more of the country’s music scene, its depth and breadth, and then keep checking back daily as CBC Music posts its handy three-song primers for each artist and band, as well as a few quotes to help deepen your appreciation of all these great musicians.


The rock-and-soul Hamilton-based band has been making music since 2008, winning audiences over with kinetic, face-melting live shows and accumulating thousands of kilometres under its bandmates belts as they tour everywhere to high demand.

Arkells are lead singer and guitarist Max Kerman, guitarist and vocalist Mike DeAngelis, bass player Nick Dika, drummer Tim Oxford and Anthony Carone on keys, and the band is nominated for two Junos this year: rock album of the year and group of the year.

Below are three essential songs that provide a bit of shape and context to the band’s evolving sound, as well as some quotes and interview excerpts with Kerman to help you get to know the real Arkells.

Song: "Oh, the Boss is Coming!”
Album: Jackson Square (2008)

An excerpt about this song from an interview with Noisey in 2016:

I have a letter from a fan, a friend of a friend of mine. They wanted me to read it to you so I’m going to read it paragraph by paragraph and you’re going to respond to each section.


Okay, so: “Hi Max, congrats on the new album. I’ve been a fan of Arkells since I heard 'Oh the Boss Is Coming' on 102.1 the Edge back in 2008. The fact that you guys had this very unpretentious but kind of humorous blue-collar aesthetic really stuck with me, because you guys were actually doing factory jobs in Hamilton.”

Interesting. We’ve never worked in a factory, that’s a misconception about us. We have worked enough shitty f--king jobs to appreciate the type of work that would go into a factory…. Actually I shouldn’t say that, Mike [DeAngelis, Arkells guitarist] worked in a factory in Waterloo. It was a shipping factory. But that song definitely comes from having to work terrible jobs. I’ll continue.

Noisey, 2016

Song: "Book Club”
Album: Michigan Left (2011)

On songwriting (, 2014): “The songs start with me but they are bare bones ideas. It's usually based on a simple chord melody that I'm attached to at the time and a couple standout lyrics. I'll have a verse and a chorus together, but they have to be exciting enough for me to bring to the band. So it's usually just the first 10 per cent of a song [laughs]. Everybody gets their hands on the songs from there and we hack away at them until they feel good.”

Song: ”My Heart's Always Yours”
Album: Morning Report (2016)

An excerpt about Arkell’s love for their Hamilton hometown (, 2011):

Lucas Kitchen: How important is Hamilton to the band?

Max Kerman: The band was formed here and it’s the band’s home. Everyone comes from places just outside of Hamilton but we met in Hamilton. The band’s become such an important part of our lives and Hamilton is such a big part of that.

Kitchen: Does a band lose a little part of who it is if it’s forced to relocate?

Kerman: If a band loses its connection to where it’s been sleeping every night for the past 5 years it’s because they’re not sleeping there, it’s ’cause they’re on the road all the time, feeling a little lonely. I don’t think we’re at that point yet but I understand that bands don’t always have the same connection they once had to their home towns, just because the nature of being in a band is that you’re not at home. But that’s not a bad thing, it just shapes a man differently. Every band remembers their first gig and starting off playing awful shows and it’s one thing we haven’t forgotten. It feels like in recent memory that we were playing to nobody at the Casbah in Hamilton but still really liking it. It’s all part of the process of growing up as a band.

Hang out with me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner

More to explore: 

Sarah McLachlan: a 3-song Junos primer