Vancouver indie rockers Said the Whale pay it forward with high school tour

Vancouver Courier

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Said the Whale
Said the Whale will perform at two Vancouver schools, Eric Hamber secondary and Mount Pleasant elementary, over the course of their month-long tour.
Photograph By SUBMITTED PHOTO VANESA HEINS

Tyler Bancroft is in a good place.

He’s a Juno winner, a dad and the owner of a No. 1 record in Canada.

Perhaps most impressive of all is that, at 34, the life-long Vancouverite can still afford to live here.

“I’m a walking, talking example of someone who is raising a family within 10 minutes from downtown, and I make all of my income from music,” Bancroft said. “Yes, I am struggling, but I’m happy and I feel successful. I think it’s important to showcase that for young people.”

Showcase he will and then some.

Come early May, Bancroft and his bandmates in Said the Whale will embark on a 12-gig tour of schools across Metro Vancouver — two in Vancouver proper — for free.

Each school will get upwards of $1,000 from each show, plus any money raised from corporate sponsors and crowdfunding. All that money will go back into each school’s music program.

The month-long venture will likely end up seeing the band pay out of pocket, though the trio has no intentions of recouping any costs.

In a marketplace where it takes thousands of streams to even make a buck, Said the Whale’s month of May seems like madness.

“In Vancouver, you really aren’t surrounded by any sort of success stories of artists making it,” Bancroft said. “You’re surrounded by real estate agents, doctors and people bitching about housing prices. I think it’s important to show people what’s possible.”

Said the Whale embarked on a similar tour eight years ago and raised about $3,000 for schools in Vancouver, Surrey and North Van through a partnership with the charity MusicCounts.

They’re going it alone this time out, but the intention is the same — to show teenagers that a future in the arts is possible.

“I’m a f***ing terrible guitar player and it shows,” Bancroft said. “But music was a huge part of my life growing up.”

Ironically, Bancroft wasn’t a band kid in high school. He and bandmate Ben Worcester, both Eric Hamber grads, were into musical theatre. With no formal training in place, at least in the school setting, Bancroft opted for the DIY punk route instead. Though he doesn’t remember why they were there, Bancroft recalls a random visit from members of the pop punk outfit Gob as the transformative experience that set in motion the charitable route his band is taking today.

“There was a huge crowd of people around them. I didn’t get to meet them, but that was really, really exciting for me,” Bancroft said.

The philanthropic efforts of the three-piece, which is rounded out by keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown, will continue for the rest of the year and into 2020 as well.

A soon-to-be-launched contest will net a high-school aged band an opening slot at Said the Whale’s gig at the Malkin Bowl in September. The top-20 finalists will all be included on a compilation CD, while the final five will get a day-long mentorship session with the band.

A kiosk will be set up at the Sept. 6 show to get those young bands exposure.

“I applied for my first FACTOR grant when I was 13. I was denied,” Bancroft said. “When I was in high school, I had to apply to the Business Development Bank of Canada for a $3,000 loan to make a CD. I would have f***ing killed to have a contest like this.”

Bancroft’s band will bookend 2019 by launching a biannual grant program that will see $5,000 given to young bands each year through 2024. The intake process begins after Said the Whale’s performance at the Malkin Bowl and the money will be doled out in November, and then again next spring.

“We have an obligation to support our community and to do some good,” Bancroft said.

The crowdfunding page for Said the Whale’s upcoming school tour is online HERE.

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