The IT Factor – by James Kasper

We hear a lot about artists who just have an “It” factor about them – a ‘je ne sais quoi’ appeal which makes them stand out from the thousands of other artists who struggle to emerge as more than an anonymous speck in a sea of aspiring, fledgling entertainers.

Recently, I was asked to attend a show at The Copper Owl, a live music venue in Victoria, close to downtown. The show featured a 30 minute set by a band simply called – oddly enough – “IT” who were making their official live debut.


I arrived just in time to see their 9pm-sharp launch, which consisted of quite possibly the tightest, heaviest, and most impressive live indie rock performance I have seen in quite some time. I realize that as a “music critic,” I am expected to offer an “objective” opinion about performances and recordings, and to many music journalists, what that means is finding as many things wrong as possible. But I have to say, in the case of the debut performance of IT, I can’t come up with much in the way of negative or constructive feedback. To make a subtle distinction, their stage presence was slightly stiff, yet their energy was palpable and vibrant. The animation and mobility will come with time as the band performs more. And to be fair, five band members on the Copper Owl stage doesn’t give much room to move anyway. And in terms of the confident and clear identity of their sound and how well-rehearsed they were, I will go out on a bit of a limb and say that it was one of the best indie rock debuts the Island has ever seen.

A few days after the show, I sat down with the band for an interview at Boston Pizza (the go-to dining experience for indie rockers everywhere, of course). We talked, had a few laughs, and I started to get a feel for what makes IT tick.

When asked about the band name, lead vocalist Jeff Olyarnyk described how bandmate and roommate Darren Scott had been tossing out “ridiculous, hilarious band names all night” when a moment of comical epiphany struck…

Jeff: “I said ‘ok, I got one – Stephen’s King! And we all walk out dressed like the clown from IT.’ And we kind of looked at each other, and I think both of our brains did the same thing at the same time and he looks at me and he says – What about ‘IT’? And then we started playing the IT game – What is IT? IT’s a rock band. IT’s pretty good. Have you seen IT? Have you heard IT? We couldn’t stop laughing. After about ten minutes, we looked at each other and said – I think IT’s a good name.”

The members of the band, who share the songwriting duties 5-ways, explained that the band grew out a collective desire to complete drummer Evan James’ song “My Reflection” because it was a song that was important to him. The band came to fruition almost like a budding modern day long-distance relationship, as they were writing together before several of them had even met, sending each other lyrics and guitar parts via email. The band’s first rehearsal with all 5 members was six months ago.

IT performs this Thursday night in Victoria at Logan’s Pub, with The New Colours and 40 Acres of Rust, 9pm start, $8 at the door.

When I asked what people could expect from the show, a couple of the responses must remain censored for the purposes of an all-ages CVV Magazine readership, but Olyarnyk summed it up best (or at least with the most politically correct delivery)…

“A fun, head-banging, rocking good time. We’re going to get up there and we’re going to show them original music that we’re passionate about.”

IT is: Jeff Olyarnyk on vocals, Darren Scott on rhythm guitar, Joel Bossy on lead guitar, Evan James on drums, and Jamie Sparkes on bass.

Does this band have the “IT Factor” that could possibly launch them into a well-beyond-mediocre stratosphere of success? Decide for yourself this Thursday night.

James Kasper