For the most part, American bands have been the marked leaders of the genre through its stylistic transitions over the years, but one emo punk band that needs to be taken note of, and you can bet audiences across Canada already have, is the band Curtis.
The band, which was formed by Siegfried Meier (guitar, piano & vocals), Lennie Haggerty (drums & vocals), and Mike Chhangur (bass & vocals) back in 1994, has made an indelible mark on the Canadian music scene over the past two decades. Curtis, which is currently signed to Bright Side Records, a label whose other artists include Breaching Vista, Stranded In Nostalgia, Sector Seven, Benefit of a Doubt and Chasing Mercury, has made five albums since they began playing together in the early 90s.
The way Meier delivers Curtis's often confessional and esoteric lyrics with the perfect blend of that melancholic emo whine and pop-punk optimism that's so memorable of 90s underground emo punk solidified their place next to American bands like Jawbreaker, Knapsack and Sunny Day Real Estate.
The purposeful semi-rough sound that comes through the band's self-titled release proves Meier's finesse for creating albums that authentically represent the band's sound as if they were playing live in your living room. In fact, since forming Curtis in 1994, Meier has gone on to produce and engineer a seemingly endless list of albums like Blue Skies at War's "You Pour the Gasoline, I'll Light the Match," Capeside's "A Thousand Silent Voices," Seconds to Go's self-titled debut, Sector Seven's "The Hunt Club," The Dunes' "Subject to Change," the "Vitals" EP for Perry's Faultline and more.
His ability to maintain the honesty of the artist's sound when making their album has been a huge draw factor for many who work with him, especially when it comes to punk, metal and rock and roll where finding a balance between clarity and the heavy hitting energy of the instrumentals can be, for most engineers, extremely challenging. Meier however, has proven that these genres are his undoubted forte.
He explains, "I feel it’s important to stay true to the artist. I’m very much a performance based producer since I’m a musician myself, so I make sure to get full takes of the artist. I feel this has a much more realistic vibe and really captures the essence of what the artist is going for, without losing the heaviness that they’re accustomed to hearing in a live situation."
Six years later came the release of their album "Live in the Studio," which Meier produced, engineered, mixed and mastered, and brought together a powerful combination of some of the band's hits from their self-titled and "Thanks Stu." records, along with some new unreleased tracks.
Two years after the release of "Live in the Studio" Meier opened Beach Road Studios, where he has spent the majority of his time since making other band's projects become a reality as a producer and engineer.
"I began my production career by recording all of our albums," explains Meier about recording albums for his band Curtis. "It didn’t take long before I realized that by making records with bands that we shared the stage with that I could afford to buy more equipment to build up the studio. While our band is still together and making music to this day, for me the focus shifted quickly to producing for a living early on."
Meier has literally produced hundreds of albums over the years, but some of the most notable projects include heavy metal band Kittie's album "I've Failed You," which charted at number 10 on the Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums in 2011 and 178 on the Billboard Top 200, as well as the band's 2009 album "In The Black," and Woods of Ypres' album "Grey Skies & Electric Light," which earned him a Juno Award in 2013 for Best Metal/Hard Music Record of the Year.
While Meier carved out a place for himself as a highly sought after producer, engineer and mixer, fans of Curtis were itching for a new release, and nine years after the release of "Live in the Studio" they got their wish when the band released "Full Circle."
Curtis also released the album "Rarities, Randoms and Lost Souls" the very same year, which included unreleased tracks and new takes on some of their past hits like an extended version of 'All' and a live recording of the intro to 'Boxes,' as well several new songs like 'Remember to Write,' 'Old Car,' 'This is the Year' and 'Upstairs Bedroom.'
Besides being the lead vocalist, guitarist and pianist, as well as the producer, recording engineer and mixer on all of Curtis's releases, Meier also wrote most of the songs, but he admits, "It's a collective effort when I bring the ideas to Lennie, but I do write the structures, melodies and lyrics."
The fact that the band is still going strong to this day is a rare accomplishment considering the lifespan of most punk rock bands, which only further proves the strength of the musical bond between Meier, Chhangur and Haggerty.
Meier's musical genius has obviously helped Curtis reach an impressive level of success; but it's his personal strengths as a musician who is uniquely able to apply his talents as a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, recording engineer and producer to projects for other bands, that has made him the legendary figure he has become in the industry.