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Are Petric the next big thing out of Canada?

24 September 2020 | 1:49 pm | Mallory Arbour

Petric is a three-piece band from Transcona Manitoba, Canada. Are they the next international country breakthrough from the great north?

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Petric is a three-piece country band from Transcona Manitoba, Canada made up of brothers Jason and Tom Petric, and long-time friend and guitarist Jordan Day. Formed back in 2014, they have since racked up over twelve million online streams, over 600 thousand views on YouTube, multiple chart-topping hit singles on Canadian country music radio, including three top 20 singles, and have won a handful of awards.

Petric have taken their music from the small stages of hometown bars, to the most prestigious festivals and venues across Canada, including the Calgary Stampede, Cavendish Beach Music Festival, Boots & Hearts, Country Thunder, and more. Pretty impressive considering they release product on their own label, manage themselves, and book around 50% of their own gigs.

They now have their sights set on Australia, with their latest single Déjà Vu, from their upcoming EP Flashbacks, already receiving airplay on Australian country radio. I spoke to Jason to find out more.

Back in August, your single Déjà Vu was added to Australian country radio. Considering how small Australia is compared to Canada and your neighbours the United States, respectively; why have you decided to target the Australian country music demographic?

It's always been a huge dream of ours to tackle the global market and to connect with a different part of this world. We've been very fortunate to expand our music careers outside of our hometown. We've had amazing opportunities to travel the country and play to tens-of-thousands and in cities and provinces we never could have dreamed of playing, so that goes with wanting to continue that ride.

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I've heard nothing but amazing things about Australia. It's absolutely on my bucket list to get down there. We absolutely will get down there. There's no doubt in my mind. Once this pandemic settles itself we will – whether it's with the band or with my family or probably both, we will make our way there and enjoy a country which I've perceived to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Let’s test you on your Australian music knowledge – which Australian music artists can you name and/or are a fan of?

I’m a huge Keith Urban fan. Tom is too. But let’s be honest, AC/DC kick ass! AC/DC is probably the best, so let’s give credit to your guys where credit’s deserved. Isn’t Morgan Evans an Australian as well? John Butler Trio, the Wolfe Brothers, Casey Barnes – there’s a few country artists.

With social media now, it’s easy to connect around the world so we want to connect. That's what we're trying to do. I'm probably as eager as they are to get discovered in our country as we are to get discovered in yours. It really is a small world. I love accents too. I think that is a very cool thing about this world. Your accent sounds fun and cool, and I feel like Australia look like a fun and cool country.

It’s very common when International artists come to Australia to get them to try our various foods – like Vegemite or Tim Tams for example – often given by the fans. Have you tried any Australian foods, or would you be willing to when Petric does make it down under?

We've tried nothing. I know nothing about it, and I don't know if I want to. I personally will try anything. Tom is a super picky eater. Jordan likes to pretend he's not picky, but he is a little picky too. Me, I have no standards, so if fans line up with whatever you think would be very Australian, bring it on!

Déjà Vu is off your upcoming full-length album Flashbacks, scheduled for release in January 2021. What inspired the track?

We were very lucky to write this song with another massively successful Canadian country band called High Valley. We wrote it a few years ago and were hoping it would have been cut on our previous album, but that didn't shape out the way it was. We did bring it back into the studio for Flashbacks, and again, Déjà Vu didn't make the cut as we felt there were better songs that were suited at the time.

Then the pandemic hit, and our entire year was cancelled. We had tell our band there's nothing for us to do. We didn't want to accept that answer. We said, “Why don't we try work on Déjà Vu?” We finished that song in quarantine – all separately in our own homes – and that this was the result of a pandemic recording. I’m glad the song wasn’t ready [for the first album]. It hadn't been nurtured and practised enough by our band to come together the way it did – sometimes you gotta take the long way around – but in this case, I think it was the right way around.

Your initial plan for the music video was to recreate the 1993 fantasy comedy film, Groundhog Day. The idea got dismissed before you landed on the current idea, which you wrote the concept and script for and was shot and edited by Brett Anderson. Speaking of the video you’ve said, “the feeling of déjà vu doesn’t make sense, so we wanted to attempt to capture that feeling in the video, yet have it make sense to the viewer.”
If you could relive any day of your life, what day would it be and why?

Probably my wedding day. I recently got married, and we still talk about it a lot because we went to Mexico and had a destination wedding. It was traditional. We did all whites, so that was my slick decision. It was beautiful. It was a wonderful day. We got lots of sunshine. It was on the beach and couldn't have been more perfect. Our band was there. Our grandparents were there. I had all my friends and family there – not one person couldn't go. It was such an amazing experience, and that day is just so special. Especially now with everything that's going on, and not getting the opportunity to gather with your friends the way you might want to, means so much to me now.

It’s almost ironic now in a way, considering, being forced into lockdown due to the pandemic has made every day often feel the same. We’re literally reliving Groundhog Day in some ways …

Yeah, at times it can feel like that. Canada has loosened up a little bit. I don't know if it's the right decision or not, but we are trying to move forward and figure this out. I am optimistic that everyone will eventually get back to a different but normal normal.

We're truly enjoying the extra time at home because for the last five or six years, we've worked really hard promoting music, touring, spending time on the road, recording music and sharing it with radio stations across Canada, so to have the last four or five months at home, that's been really nice. There's nothing wrong with being at home. I’ve got a great family and a house full of animals. It's all good here.

Flashbacks will be the third EP of the band Petric, but the first for the band as a trio. The previous EP’s It Girl (2015) and 18 Ends (2017) were recorded by Tom and yourself. You mentioned earlier how Déjà Vu didn’t originally make the cut of the album, and, of the song, you have previously stated that, “This song shows a completely different style and edge that we haven’t explored before.” Given the history between the three of you and the experimentation with new sounds, is Flashbacks the result of Jordan’s input as an official member of the band?

Jordan brought a huge part and always has brought a huge part to Petric. He's the non-brother but he's as much family as anybody else. He's always been in this band, but our first record label wanted to brand Petric as a duo and, when you're young and anxious and excited to move your career forward, sometimes you listen to people and go against what maybe you shouldn't have.

Jordan’s always been part of this band, so that was important for us going into this album. We said, “Jordan, we need you in. You have to be in this band. We want to do this album. What do you think?” He was in. That was day one, then we all jumped on the same page, and now we're here.

I think more than ever, this album is really going to showcase Petric at its finest. We're not your traditional country band. We are not a rock band, but what we're kind of like Bon Jovi with a little bit of twang to it. Déjà Vu is a different approach for us. It's more rock and roll than anything we've done before – there’s no real acoustic instruments, no banjo or mandolin. We never put fiddle in our music. This is an upbeat rock song. I feel like we have that anthemic, heavy guitar, country rock sound and everything is gonna work around that dynamic. I'm really excited about this music because, without a doubt, it is our best stuff. We got to work with an amazing [Grammy nominated, Canadian] producer named Chris Baseford. Chris worked with Nickelback, Avril Lavigne – he’s got awards through the ying yang on his mantle – and is one of the best dudes we could have worked with for this project.

With this album being about exploring something completely different from your past releases, is this the future direction you see for Petric?

No … I don't know. I promise you one thing, the direction we're gonna always continue to go down is honesty – if that means we do a rap song because that's where we're at, then that's gonna happen. I don't think that'll ever happen but when we started this album two years ago, Tom, Jordan and myself met up and we said, “Listen, we’ve got to hold each other accountable. If there's one person that has an issue with a song or doesn't think it's good enough, we have to change it and make it better. There's no taking the easy way out.” And it was a very tough journey at times. We didn't always agree, but we're all really happy that we pushed each other to our bests, and this album is very honest.

Your marketing strategy on social media in the lead up to the new album is allowing fans to text the band. How successful has the concept been or have you just been bombarded with weird and creepy messages?

It’s been quite successful. One of the things that's stripped bands and artists this year is the ability to connect and engage with fans. We missed them. We really do. We haven’t played a show in almost six months, so it’s a lot of fun to get to – whether it’s putting out a new song or music video, doing anything on social media or texting with fans – we want to connect with them. It's been a lot of fun and so far, no weird texts at all. I mean, there’s been some, but again, that’s what we wanted – we wanted to talk to the fans. We're gonna keep doing that leading up to the release of our album in January.

Petric formed around 2014. But your journey began more than ten years prior, venturing out on your own, releasing two solo albums and touring as a back-up guitarist for many local acts. How did you manage to get involved in music professionally at such a young age?

From day one, my goal was to accomplish things. That goal hasn't changed, so we continue to keep pushing forward and hopefully making the right decision to always make the best music. I did start playing music when I was about 15-16 years old, and my brother was very involved with it from the beginning. We weren't officially Petric at that time, but more often than not, Tom and I would find ourselves doing shows together, backing each other up for whatever projects we had going on.

Then at 20 years old, I wanted to make a good CD. I wanted to do my thing and write songs. I found what I thought at the time was the best producer in Winnipeg, and that was my first chance to work with quality musicians and industry guys. From there, again, we always have continued to push forward and evolve, and that eventually evolved into the band Petric. It's a tough business, but I always thought it was tough. I never thought it was gonna be easy. And I don't want to say I enjoy the struggles, but I embrace them, and we try to always to put our best foot forward and earn our keep in this business.

What has been the most surprising thing about the industry or different to what you may have originally expected?

That's a tough one. As much as I expected it was going to be a tough business, I always thought if we worked hard, we were going to get to do some cool things. I guess what sometimes surprises me is the fans – fan turnout has always been an unbelievable surprise and joy. There's been times where we've travelled all the way across the country, and you wouldn't believe how many fans are in front of us singing our songs – and it's the first time we played there! One memory for me that stands out, we played in Cavendish Beach Music Festival – so on the complete opposite ends of the country for us – and we had about 4000 fans standing out there in the rain singing our song back. That is a surprise that I don't think anyone could ever expect and an emotion no one can explain. As much as you can anticipate and expect that if we work hard, we might get to play cool shows and hear our song on the radio, you can't ever expect and anticipate a crowd reaction when it's a real genuine reaction.

They say you should never meet your idols because they never live up to your expectations. Given you work in an industry where I’m sure you get to meet and work with people you admire all the time, I almost expected you to go down that route. I thought maybe you’d met an industry person, and maybe they were nicer in person; real and down to earth; or just a total dick.

[laughs] I try not to have too many expectations for other people. I try to just hold myself to expectations. When I get in music mode, I want to make sure I'm not being that dick for somebody. I want to make sure that I'm enjoying the moment and not getting too caught up in things. We get to meet some cool people and work with some great people. There isn't an individual that stands out as “I kinda wish I never met them because I liked them more before.” Maybe we're lucky, but that's one of the great things about this business is you do get to meet people, you get to meet fans and make friends. They really are friends. They love you and your music [and] they care about you – and that's a friend. It's stuff we wouldn't get to do if we didn't play music. If someone comes up and says, “I really like your music” that truly does mean a lot to me. We work hard to have our music heard and anytime someone wants to compliment us, absolutely, it's amazing – and thank you.

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