Dean Lickyer give classic rock a fresh start

Dean Lickyer Live By: Sheena Lyonnais
June 28, 2009

Very rarely do I come across a band that commands a level of musicianship the way Dean Lickyer do.  The young band (seriously, they’re 19) infuses classic 1960s/1970s rock’n’roll with a fresh energy and perseverance normally reserved for the pros.  They dominate the stage, they command attention and they do it all with a Southern Ontario honesty and charm. 

Having just completed their largest tour to date with 50 days, which included shows with Mariana’s Trench, the band returned to Toronto with performances at NXNE and Edgefest.  We caught up with them at the latter during the rainy and muddy music festival.

“I think right now, not maybe a couple years ago but immediately right now, a lot of artists are starting to come out that are like the artists from the 60s and the 70s.  There’s kind of a rebirth going on and it’s really exciting to be a part of,” vocalist Josh Alvernia said.

The band is gearing up to record their second EP through a currently undisclosed label, which will take up their summer when they’re not playing festivals or preparing to open up for Kiss at Sarnia Bayfest on July 10.  Gene Simmons personally selected them as an opener after appointing them the best band in Canada during Canadian Music Week.  He also gave them $10,000, which they used to buy a van.

Simmons isn’t the only one catching on to their infectious rock.  Dean Lickyer also got rave reviews on MuchMusic’s disBand, an experience that has helped them land fans in small Canadian towns.

Toronto Band Dean Lickyer“We noticed a lot in the small towns, especially the all ages shows, kids were coming out because they saw us on the show.  Especially one town would be Saskatchewan and 45 kids came out to see us.  The show before that, nobody actually came out to see us and there were 15 people there, so compared to the last time we were really happy with the reception we got after the show,” Alvernia said.

The band is rounded out by drummer Eric Martin, bassist Justin Bosso and guitarist Sean Royle.  While they all went to high school together, Martin and Royle were friends since they were toddlers and Bosso and Alvernia’s parents were friends before they were even born.  It seemed destined the four young kids with a love of classic rock would find each other and attempt to rejuvenate the genre.

They all take music very seriously.  Alvernia trained vocally for two years, while Bosso is a classically trained violinist.  They’ve all taken music lessons extensively and put a conscious effort into mastering their instruments.  Paying attention to legends like Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen, they focus on song construction in levels beyond their years while also studying and playing blues and jazz music, something they consider to be extremely important.

“I think back then, in the early days, there wasn’t a lot of rock’n’roll so everyone listened to a lot of jazz and blues, that’s where they got their influences from so that’s how they became great players and they took it to rock’n’roll. I think these days less people expand into different genres and they’ll just listen to rock’n’roll or they’ll just listen to one thing.  I think it’s really important to expand and listen to as much as you can,” Martin said.
“Musicianship back then seemed to be taken more seriously.  I guess because rock’n’roll was so fresh and it was just being born, it didn’t really have barriers so nobody wanted to restrict themselves to I guess radio or something like that, so when you listen to them those are people who were breaking barriers and the musicianship was just higher and the ideas were more developed.  When you listen to them I think you learn a lot more,” Alvernia added.

Dean Lickyer EdgefestWhile they pride themselves on being authentic, they also hope to bring a new life to an old genre.  It seems like an ambitious goal, but with their dedication I wouldn’t be surprised if they could pull it off. 

“We’re a fresh band, we’re a new band.  We’re not copying, we’re not replicating.  We’re just being ourselves, so it’s going to come out fresh because it’s four new people playing this music,” Alvernia said.

For more information on Dean Lickyer, check out

Photos taken from Dean Lickyer’s MySpace page.

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