Sweet Invicta: Let it roll, let it ride

by McKenna Cardwell

Photo by Tommy Calderon

Surrounded by the skater shoes and graffiti walls of the Unknown Board Shop, the members of Sweet Invicta were suited up in coat and tie, embodying a trait the band says is something they stand for; “smart but punk.”

Bellingham band Sweet Invicta celebrated their latest EP release with a show May 20 at the Unknown Board Shop, debuting their rocker yet refined album to friends and family.

Mixed and produced within a matter of days, the CD features six tracks, each with their own variation of the Sweet Invicta “sound.” A sound that members Vincent Blackshadow, Tanner Wallace, Ben Danielson, Kaleb Harrison and Noah Dunn says they are continually discovering.

“So much of being the age we are is the constant presence of some form of an identity crisis. With the band, we can recreate its identity to fit ours as it changes,” Dunn said.

Altering the band’s identity isn’t a new idea for Sweet Invicta. Prompted by the introduction of Dunn, who replaced previous drummer, they grew tired of being the classical cover band called “Odd ones Out” and decided to produce their own tracks.

“When we were Odds Ones Out our audiences was mainly 50 and 60-year-olds,” Harrison said. “With this new release we now have more friends and kids our age behind us.”

This decision created the opportunity for songwriters Blackshadow and Harrison to channel their own inspirations into their songs.

“From music pirating to pretentious Instagram girls, our songs are about the life that only a teenager can have. The kind of life where you eat dinner at 3 a.m. and fall asleep at 5 a.m.,” Blackshadow said. “Basically, if a 90s band had a sax player and decided to write about what it’s like to be our age, to be a teenager in 2016, that’s what our stuff is about.”

High school not only serves as a source for song material, but provided a common ground for the creation of the group. It was in a “School of Rock” class at Bellingham High School that members Blackshadow, Harrison and Wallace began to entertain the idea of creating a band, later recruiting Danielson to play bass.

“As a person I didn’t like to put myself out there,” Danielson said. “Being in a band you are forced to be on stage which presented some personal challenges for me.”

“It’s been transformative for me in a lot of ways,” Dunn agreed. “I am just a nerd and being in this band has introduced me to a lot of different social situations I wouldn’t ever be in without the band, like playing at a bar in Seattle.”

The boys disagree on a host of bands that inspired them, ranging from Cage the Elephant to Tom Petty, but they do agree that coming from varying musical backgrounds has helped them reach a successful group dynamic.

“Essentially we are all self-taught musicians,” Blackshadow said. “I think had we been schooled educationally, we would have lost the will to continue to make music as well as the ability to communicate so well with one another.”

The band will face a new set of challenges as Blackshadow, Wallace and Danielson graduate this year. Blackshadow heading as far as Chicago to study music business at Columbia College.

Individually, their interests expand past the boundaries of the band; Wallace plans on going into auto repair and Danielson is interested in medical or computer science. But together Sweet Invicta wants to continue having fun playing music while they have the opportunity to do so, and never take it for granted. They agree that after an “inevitable hiatus,” Sweet Invicta will continue to make music and play whenever they can.

“I’ve only known these guys a short while, yet this has shaped everything that I want to do with the rest of my life,” Wallace said.

LIVE SHOW: Catch Sweet Invicta playing the School’s Out for Summer show at Boundary Bay on June 16, and the Music Moves Me benefit June 18 at Boundary Bay at 11:15 a.m. See updates at facebook.com/sweet.invicta. 

Published in the June 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine