Arts & Entertainment, Music

Artist Profile: Still Insane is still rocking

Of the many cultural currents that underscored the late 90s and early 2000s, none have defined generations more than skater culture. Music genres such as skate punk charted worldwide, skater clothing brands like Vans dominated teenage aesthetics, and television programs such as Jackass  epitomized the “skater boy” as a staple identity. For many, skating is just a phase,  but for Still Insane, a punk-rock band from Quebec, it’s not “just a phase.”

Formed in 2006, this five-piece band’s skate-punk sound has been a key tenet of their discography, with metal influences coming in and out of the frame across albums. The title track off of their EP Black Sheep, in particular, features more melodic phrases and guitar solos to balance the characteristically fast skate-punk tempo. The first track, “Sleeping on the Floor,” features a classical canon-like intro which eases the listener into fast power chords that eventually crashes into a more relaxed outro, featuring James McGill—no, not THAT James McGill—reflecting on the definition of a Chicago Sunroof. Their music is upbeat, loud, and energetic, animated by a rebellious teenage spirit. After all, their sound is merely a reflection of the band members. They are proud skaters, all having started in their teenage years and continuing to do so into their forties.

When Still Insane isn’t at the skatepark, they tend to their family and work lives while making time to jam once a week. Most members have steady jobs––for example, in teaching and the automobile industry––yet Still Insane has remained a constant element of their lives. Through their music, they get to partake in Quebec’s vibrant punk rock scene, leading them to play with some of the biggest skate-punk bands like NOFX, Bad Religion, and Pennywise. Across festivals such as Pouzzafest and Envol et Macadam, they perform with the same bands that defined the video-game soundtracks of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series (1999-2015). Still Insane’s singer, Eric Dorval, recounted sharing stages with Bad Religion in an interview with The McGill Tribune.

“In 2014 we got a call from a friend asking us to bring over some gear to a Bad Religion concert,” said Dorval. “Next thing you know, we are sharing the stage with Bad Religion and our friends who were part of another punk rock troupe.”

Although the skate-punk formula remains unchanged, the people who play it have now matured, raised families, and grown to treasure their love of the genre. Dorval fondly remembers one of his first experiences meeting the lead guitarist of NOFX, Eric Melvin.

“I was with my partner who was pregnant at the time and we happened to run into him,” Dorval said. “We spent most of the time talking about perinatal matters, with Eric giving us advice on the pregnancy. He was so generous with his time and so caring. I was endeared by this experience, so much so that we ended up naming our child after him.” 

Despite all the great aspects of the scene, Dorval regrets the gatekeeping of punk rock. Here in Montreal, it is apparent to anyone passing through concert venues on Ste. Catherine in Le Quartier des Spectacles or in the Plateau that the punk scene is alive and well. Most punk shows, however, occur in bars instead of venues that allow for younger audiences. 

“Shows were open to minors which meant we grew up listening to sounds that are now constrained to adult audiences,” said Dorval, who was introduced to the punk scene as a teenager.

Through punk’s highs and lows, Still Insane is still going strong. “We released an EP during the pandemic, played during the genre’s decline in popularity, and we continue to write songs and jam,” Dorval explained. 

Whether punk is experiencing a revival, a decline, or the world is going through a pandemic, Still Insane continues to create music on its own terms. No matter the circumstances around them, they are a punk band for a reason.

Still Insane’s latest EP Black Sheep is available on Spotify and Youtube alongside their discography. You can also find them on Facebook where they update their page for news about shows and upcoming projects.

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