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Arkells: PyeongChang Olympics, Canada Day on Parliament Hill, and now headlining Northern Lights festival

Hamilton rock band has had a fantastic 2018
Hamilton band the Arkells are the opening headliners here in Sudbury at Northern Lights Festival Boréal this Thursday evening. (Supplied)

To say Hamilton rock band the Arkells is having a good year is pretty much the understatement of 2018.

In February, the band's hit “Knocking at the Door” was played by NBC during Super Bowl LII.

Although written about the women's march held in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's election — the band sometimes makes forays into the political — the tune has become something of a favourite of the sports world.

The same month, the band, which formed a decade ago and is named after the Hamilton street the founding members lived on in university, ended up performing at Canada House during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. 

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir did a video announcing band's summer tour, which led Canada House to tweet about listening to the Arkells, which in turn led the band to jokingly tweet they should perform in Korea.

Air Canada responded to the band's tweet, offering to fly them to South Korea.

Last month, the Arkells played an outdoor concert dubbed “The Rally” attended by 24,000 people in their hometown of Hamilton.

And then on Canada Day, the band performed during the celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

So why have so many amazing things happened to the Arkells this year? Frontman Max Kerman puts it down to plain, old-fashioned hard work.

“When you're a musician, you're always trying to get the next opportunity to be seen and heard,” he said.

“It's a really hard business to get those opportunities. There's so many musicians out there and a limited amount of spots.

“We've done a really good job I think of just putting our head down and working. We don't get distracted by bad news. We just try to keep moving forward and being as creative as we can.”

It's certainly not as glamorous as travelling to South Korea, but the Arkells have a few dates playing in Northern Ontario this summer.

They played at Stars & Thunder in Timmins last weekend. They'll also be the opening headliners here in Sudbury at Northern Lights Festival Boréal this Thursday evening.

Then the band heads northwest to Thunder Bay, where they'll play at the Thunder Bay Blues Festival Saturday.

Kerman said the band hasn't toured Northern Ontario in awhile, and this summer the Arkells are intentionally visiting places they haven't been recently.

How does playing Northern Ontario gigs such as NLFB compare to some of their recent experiences? 

Kerman said he's really excited about Northern Lights festival because there's some musicians on the lineup he really admires, especially Joel Plaskett, the Sunday night headliner with dad Bill Plaskett.

(You can read our interview with Joel Plaskett here).

“When I saw the lineup I was like 'Count us in,'” Kerman said. “One of the reasons why we started a band in the first place is Joel Plaskett.”

Northern Lights Festival Boréal runs in Bell Park July 5-8. Visit for tickets and a full schedule of performers. 


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