When the Beatles began playing in the clubs of Hamburg in 1960, it was the songs of Fats Domino, Lonnie Donegan, and Elvis Presley they were performing. When The Rolling Stones got started they were playing Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley. The Who? The Shadows and The Ventures. For some, playing other people’s music can be a launching point, it can build an audience, and hone skills. For others, like Kyle Boudreau, it’s a calling, a lifestyle, and any opportunity to make music, “Some bands do original tunes, and they’d be ashamed to be in a cover band. I’m not. I’m not writing songs on Saturday night, 10:30 at my house. I’m out at the bar having fun, the band is playing. Why wouldn’t you do that? If I’m going to wake up fresh on a Monday to write some lyrics, then I’m not going to be able to do that.”
Kyle is a ball of energy, talking a mile a minute, and pacing around his room at Dolan’s Pub band house in Fredericton as he preps for the upcoming show. He’s the lead singer for The Frequency, and Sunday Punch, both cover bands. He brings to them an impressive ability to mimic many vocalists, and a passion for music that he can be quizzed on. He’s a lifer, in it for the long haul, but he makes no qualms about what gets his bread buttered, “I would recommend anything else these days than being a singer-songwriter. If you want to be broke, then that’s what you do. But, it’s still worth it.”
Kyle (vocals, guitar) and Jeff Hope (bass) formed The Frequency in 2009, along with former members Bennett Buell (lead guitar), and Chris Gillis (drums). In the last year, varying commitment levels bought changes to the band’s line-up, replacing Buell and Gillis with Kyrk Dodds (lead guitar) and Tommy Maillet (drums), but from the moment of its inception, the band had a clear goal in mind: to bring rock and roll to those less fortunate by being the next best to the real thing. “The Frequency was always going to be a cover band. You go to these bars, and these places hire us to hear their favourite songs. I don’t put my own agenda in with that. A lot of people would; they’d say, ‘I wrote this song yesterday, so I’m going to play all the best songs of all time, and then throw this one in there’. I’m not saying that my song couldn’t be awesome, but it’s a different thing. We have a goal in mind. We have a certain performance we want to put on and we don’t step out of that box. I find it’s a mistake to do that.”
“I’m going to go straighten my hair. I’m also really committed to great hair.” – Kyle, Typically
It was the encouragement that came from friends and family that has shaped Kyle’s career path, beginning with a concert put on by his aunt where he sang along with his uncle’s band, “I was eight and terrible, but I remember everybody telling me good job, and to keep doing this. I can remember always feeling very supported.” Those early experiences, and the years of practice between gave him the courage to face down some of the harshest critics known to man: an auditorium full of high school students, “As a kid, I played for my high school. I set up all the stuff and I had some original tunes, and learned the top tunes of the day. Nobody knew it was going to happen. All day we had blacked the auditorium windows. We came out, we hit the lights, and boom, and they lost their minds. They freaked out. I can remember not expecting that. When you’re in school they make fun of you, and pick on you. People don’t let you bet who you are. If you’re a little bit different you get beat up or given a hard time. I was very afraid, but they loved it.”
His life has been a non-stop show ever since, dedicating his life to performing, and he attributes his successes to simply never saying no, “Sometimes bands will call me and I’ll step in, but you have to be ready to say yes. I don’t say no, and that’s served me well. It’s, ‘Do you want to come jam? Come to this party? Come meet these people? Come over here and play a gig?’ I always say yes. That works well for me, and I always try to keep it in mind. I just always say yes. I always just want to play. If I’m always playing, and always going, then I’m happy. That’s just what I want to do 24/7.”
Their approach of putting that level of energy, effort, and enthusiasm into each performance has brought success to The Frequency; regularly packing bars with no room to raise a drink, and has kept them touring on a constant circuit between Halifax and Toronto. For five years they’ve been living the rock and roll dream of an endless party.
That’s why it came as a surprise when, in December of 2014, The Frequency made an announcement that sounded about as sincere as a Rolling Stones farewell tour: the band would be going on an indefinite hiatus following a final victory lap. Fans fell upon their knees in despair, weeping openly in a deluge of mascara and Jägermeister. The members were to go their separate ways: Jeff to work on his IT company, Kyrk to pursue his own solo musical career, and as Tommy tells us, “I think I’m going to spend some time working out.” We know, Tommy, we know.
Then a ray of hope came for fans at last, when the news was made public that Kyle would be replacing Pierce Clarke as the lead singer for Sunday Punch, another prominent cover band out of Charlottetown/Halifax. Sunday Punch was formed back in 2009 by guitarist Rob Switzer, but has seen a high turnover rate in member. Rob tells us, “The band started out as a bunch of younger guys at stages in their lives where they didn’t know if they wanted to pursue music or not. They were in high school, or doing their undergrad, and it came down to doing Sunday Punch or their masters degree, and we’ve had a lot of members who had to make that roll.” While they’ve done well as a cover band, Rob hopes that with a focused group there’s a chance of recording some original material, “Every year or two there’s a huge change or two in the band, I feel that there hasn’t been a solid group for long enough to really pursue the original stuff. Every new singer, singers in particular, bring a different taste. When we heard Kyle sing for the first time we thought it’d be great for what we do. It was a no brainer when we found out he was up for the job.”
Sunday Punch are still working hard to settle in with their newest singer, but their showmanship and high energy performances have retained a large following throughout the Maritimes. They’re finding success doing what they love. As Kyle puts it, “We focus on music , but we’re not gazing at our shoes. We want people to come party with us and have a good time. That’s the main goal. We’re there to bring people into the bar, to sell some booze for them, and to play their favourite tunes.”
Sunday Punch are Kyle Boudreau (vocals), Rob Switzer (lead guitar), Jeff Doherty (keyboard), Matt Meuse-Dallien (drums), and Brycen Gunn (bass). They can be seen performing this weekend at Fredericton’s Dolan’s Pub.
The Frequency, unsurprisingly, will be performing St Patrick’s Day at Dolan’s Pub, with original members Chris Gillis and Bennett Buell.