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Walk Off The Earth: More than just a cover band

Ewen Boey
Singapore Showbiz
26 August 2012

L-R: Joel Cassady, Sarah Blackwood, Gianni Luminati, Ryan Marshall and Mike Taylor. (Yahoo! photo/Alvin Ho)
L-R: Joel Cassady, Sarah Blackwood, Gianni Luminati, Ryan Marshall and Mike Taylor. (Yahoo! photo/Alvin Ho)

Thanks to their unconventional and hugely successful cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know", Walk Off The Earth (WOTE) are now making a name for themselves all over the globe.

However, the band wants to have it down on record that they do not consider themselves a cover band -- and they do have a strong case for it.

While many of us have only heard of them in their above mentioned cover video on YouTube, which has garnered more than 133 million views since January this year, the Canadian quintet of Gianni Luminati, Sarah Blackwood, Ryan Marshall, Mike Taylor and Joel Cassady would love for fans to discover their original material.

"We're really happy the cover (of Gotye's song) helped our band to be known worldwide, that way people can also discover more of our videos and find out about our original music," said Marshall, who plays various instruments in the band, including the guitar, bass and trumpet.

Watch the video of one of their original songs, "Summer Vibe":

To be fair, even as far as cover bands go, WOTE don't really fit into the model of a band trying to replicate the exact sound of a song. They say they treat each cover as a challenge, taking pop songs and deconstructing them to something different from the original -- almost like a whole new genre altogether.

"If we were covering the song the way the original artiste made it then, yeah, you are a cover band in the sense that you're covering the song exactly the way it was written. But we do out own thing with the song, and furthermore all five of us sing it so it really changes the dynamics of the song," Marshall told Yahoo! Singapore.

"We treat it as a challenge, too, taking a lot of pop songs and deconstructing them to make them something new," added Cassady, the band's drummer and main percussionist.

How then did the idea for the "Somebody That I Used to Know" video come about?

Gianni Luminati, WOTE's creative spark, confessed that the idea for the video wasn't specifically planned for, and that it "just happened". For those curious, it took them more than 30 tries in recording the song before settling on the final cut.

Watch the video of their famous Gotye cover, "Somebody That I Used to Know":

The effort was well worth it, and the band is thankful the video did so well, and they professed that it really helped change their lives as musicians for the better.

Luminati told this reporter, "It's really awesome because we now get to travel the world and play music for people. It's also that video that got people to see our other music and realise we're not just a one hit wonder, and that we've got a lot more to offer. We've had show offers on every continent and we're flying around appeasing the fans."

"Yeah, things have changed, and it's for the better. It's awesome and we love it," he added.

As to their unusual band name, WOTE said that it reflected their desire to have people listen to their music and feel like they've walked off the earth.

"It's got that vibe that just puts you in a different world," Luminati pointed out.

They achieve that by incorporating less common instruments into their music, and also using conventional instruments in unconventional ways.

"We just try to do stuff that's never been done and we're not afraid to try it," said Luminati who, according to his bandmates, makes the most unique sounds with instruments in unusual ways.

"I think what makes us unique is not how many instruments we have, but how we use them, and Gianni's the master of that. I can play a trumpet the way it's supposed to be played, but in this band it can turn into a percussion instrument. Or a guitar can be turned into a drum," added Marshall.

Gianni Luminati (right) plays Ryan Marshall's guitar like a drum. (Yahoo! photo/Alvin Ho)
Gianni Luminati (right) plays Ryan Marshall's guitar like a drum. (Yahoo! photo/Alvin Ho)

The band also has a reputation of responding to almost all messages to them on their band's Facebook page.

"It's the least you can do when you see a message from someone who has clearly taken an hour and a half to write," said Cassady.

Luminati agreed, adding, "We really respect the fans on Facebook and we try to reply to every person. Sometimes during our travels we may miss a few but they're there and they buy our songs, so we feel it's our obligation to answer their questions and keep them posted personally."

Check out more of their unique covers on their YouTube channel here. If you're a fan, be sure to drop them a message on their Facebook page.

Walk Off The Earth's Singapore gig was proudly organised by Snowbird Productions.

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