How Labrador band Ptarmageddon made the most of their time in lockdown
A Labrador band created as a way to find new ways to make a living during the COVID-19 pandemic already has two EPs of material — and two Music Newfoundland and Labrador nominations.
For Wabush musician Scott Neary, finding new ways to support himself brought him home from Ontario. He planned to use his time to record his own album, but the pandemic had other plans.
« The pandemic kind of forced me to leave Toronto and come back here and try to make music other than in a big city. And that’s where I met Matt and Jen. »
« Matt » is Matt Soper and « Jenn » is Jenn Edwards. Neary, guitars and vocals, started playing with them in local bars – originally as a duo, then as an acoustic trio. One of their first sessions was a live-streamed concert
Back home, Neary started performing with Matt Soper at some local bars. The same was true with Jenn Edwards, a fellow musician who taught dance at Labrador West.
After playing as a duo, the three came together as an acoustic trio, one of their first sessions being a live streamed concert at the Iron Rock Brewing Co. in Labrador City.
Soper – drums, guitar and vocals – said the trio knew they had something special.
« Jaming with two musicians like Scott, Jenn – it was really a thrill, » he said.
The next step was to come up with a name. They wanted a local name with a twist, so they combined ptarmigan – a bird found throughout Labrador – with, well, Armageddon. And Ptarmageddon was born.
The band played many local venues, taking requests and covering songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Soper jokes that he is responsible for their decision to write original songs.
WATCH | The members of Ptarmageddon speak with CBC’s Darryl Dinn:
« It’s totally my fault, » he said. « I was just having a bad week at work and I called Scott and was like, ‘Man, I’m taking a week off and a week off. Let’s get together and write some music.
During that week they wrote one new song a day and by the end of the week they realized they had the stuff to record their first EP. The resulting recording, an EP with six original tracks, was called Holding Pattern and was released in 2021.
Jenn Edwards, vocals and keyboards, said the band wanted to keep the momentum going.
« We love playing together, so we just wanted to keep doing that and keep playing shows, » she said. « So we decided to apply for a grant from Arts NL and they funded our second EP as well as our first music video. »
This video, gravity party, inspired by their love of snowboarding, was filmed atop Smokey Mountain in Labrador City last winter. They have a scary one coming out at the end of October.
In August, Ptarmageddon received two Music NL nominations: Alternative Artist of the Year and Rising Star of the Year.
Soper didn’t believe it was true.
« When Scott sent me the screenshot of the two nominations, I thought he was making it up. I thought it was just a joke, like Photoshop, » he said. « But yeah, that was a pretty big surprise.… A fun little project we started is now a two-time nominated project. »
After the awards gala in Corner Brook on Saturday, the next step for the band is the release of their second EP in late November. While the first one was made with the idea of having a good time without expectations, things are different this time around.
“It was a bit difficult to put together because I felt like there was a bit more at stake this time around,” Neary said.
Dream Logic will be released on Spotify in late November to coincide with their show at the Labrador West Arts and Culture Center on November 25, where they plan to perform all original songs.
Learn more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador