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5 things you (probably) didn't know about Arkells' adventures in Vancouver

They're in Vancouver as part of their cross-Canada tour.

Arkells (yes, just Arkells, no "the") have been coming to Vancouver for well over a decade.

As one of Canada's most popular homegrown talents for the last 15 or so years, the band has toured across the country regularly and played many shows on the coast.

In fact, they're in town right now for a show, Oct. 25 at Rogers Arena, and Vancouver Is Awesome got a chance to talk to lead singer Max Kerman and guitarist Mike DeAngelis about some of their thoughts, adventures, and memories of and in the city.

"This part of the country is just so beautiful," says Kerman. "I'd say that sort of takes the cake in that department."

To that end, one thing he's never done here is take a seaplane tour of the area; DeAngelis says exploring the area is also on his Vancouver bucket list.

"I'd like to go to a hippie Island," he says. "Yeah, maybe a hippie island tour."

When asked about their favourite venue, The Commodore Ballroom jumps to mind for DeAngelis ("The Commodore is a very special room. It's probably one of the best in Canada") while Kerman has fond memories of seeing Vampire Weekend at the Malkin Bowl.

When it comes to food in the city Tacofino, Rain or Shine ice cream, and The Morrissey pub all come up, either as places they've enjoyed recently or hit when they toured through in the past.

Oh, and if anyone has any sushi recommendations, DeAngelis is looking for some.

Before that though, here are five things you probably didn't know about the Arkells. Wait, no; just Arkells.

1. Their first show in Vancouver was at The Penthouse, and they didn't know it was a strip club until they got on stage

"The first time we played in Vancouver was part of a music festival," Kerman says. "This is back when we were first starting our band. We felt like big shots. You know that we're getting invited to play music festival."

"We saw our name on the New Music West poster and they said, 'It's gonna be a bunch of venues all around the city. You're playing at The Penthouse.'"

The band was set to play at 7 p.m., but "didn't account for Vancouver traffic" and rolled up behind the venue just a few minutes before they were supposed to be on stage.

"We loaded our stuff onto the stage and realized that there were stripper poles on the stage," Kerman says. "So we realized that The Penthouse was a strip club, and we probably got to play for 20 minutes out of a 45-minute set."

"That was our first memory of Vancouver and the nightlife."

"We've since learned it's actually quite a historic place here in Vancouver," adds Mike DeAngelis of the venue. "So quite the honour that that was our first show."

2. They met their long-time marketing promoter when she let them crash on her floor (as strangers)

When young indie bands in Canada strike out on tour they're often on a tight budget and will do what it takes to make things work, financially.

For Arkells that meant cheap accommodation on their first few tours, and in Vancouver that led them to Miranda Liu.

"We got connected through a friend of a friend to this young person named Miranda," says Kerman. "Miranda was about our age. And...we had never met Miranda. She was just like a local here who was like a music fan who was sort of in the business. "She let five young men..."

"Totally random young men," interjects DeAngelis. 

"Sleep on her couch and floor in her little condo or apartment in Vancouver here," finishes Kerman.

Despite the unusual meeting, the band's relationship didn't just stay intact but flourished.

"Fast forward years later, Miranda has been our marketing event promoter since then. And she's like a big wig and with Live Nation now," Kerman says.

3. The band's favourite pizza slice is Megabite

The band has had a lot of pizza over the years, but DeAngelis says the band has a special place in its heart for Megabite.

"I think our favourite pizza ended up being Megabite, even though it doesn't feel like the people here love it the same way we do," he says. "But in our minds, we've built it up as the most incredible quick slice."

The price, at just $1 when they first came through, helped, Kerman says.

"They also did sesame seeds on the crust," DeAngelis says. "You can see how green we were, just for travelling in general, thinking: 'It's different here in Van!' And something about the ham, just like the way they did the big slices of ham."

He adds that nostalgia might be having an effect, too, as he hasn't had it too recently.

"I think it's gone downhill, to be honest," Kerman admits. "Or maybe our tastes have gotten more refined more we can afford more expensive stuff."

The band does always have a post-show pizza, though, so DeAngelis is considering something from Megabite after their concert at Rogers.

4. Kerman's dad recreated one of the band's recent music videos in a Vancouver mall

The band regularly collaborates on songs, and on their most recent album they teamed up with Tegan and Sara Quin for "Teenage Tears."

For the music video Tegan, a Vancouver resident, suggested they shoot at Kingsgate Mall due to its 90s feel Kerman says.

"We wanted it to feel like it's a 90s mall," he explains. "It's not like a newly renovated, glossy-looking, expensive mall."

That music video came out a few weeks ago, and, shortly after, Kerman's dad was in Vancouver.

"He realized that he was like, blocks away from Kingsgate Mall," Kerman says. "So he went by, and he decided to recreate some of the shots of the music video. But he was by himself."

However, that didn't stop him; he spotted a couple of kids walking through the mall with their grandmother.

"And then, seriously, he asked 'Can you two sit next to me on the bench?'" Kerman says. "And got the grandma to take the photo."

Soon the Kerman family group text got an odd photo.

5. They had to get their brakes fixed in Vancouver after cooking them in the mountains

The band has spent a lot of time touring in vans, and that always means a trip through the mountains.

On one journey, Kerman says, Arkells bassist Nick Dika was at the wheel when Kerman noticed they were moving pretty quick.

"So I look over and we're going like 140 or 150 down the highway and I say 'Nick, should we be going as fast?' and he goes 'I put on cruise control for 90, we're good.' But he didn't account for gravity."

In the same van, DeAngelis says, the brakes got fried coming to the Lower Mainland.

"We burnt out the brakes on that van and we had to stop and get new brakes in Vancouver after coming down the mountains," he says. "We weren't letting them cool down."

In fact, the drives to Vancouver have left Kerman with a bit of an odd reaction to Vancouver, a sort of relief.

"Because the only time I was ever in Vancouver was after the most harrowing drives in my life, right?" he says. "So my association with Vancouver is 'Oh god, we made it.'"