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Newfoundland and Labrador

How Labrador band Ptarmageddon made the most of its time in lockdown

In the distance, a guitarist, a drummer, and a singer perform on a snowy ski hill with a chairlift in the background.
Ptarmageddon’s filmed its Gravity Party music video on Smokey Mountain Ski Hill. (Brad Dillon/Submitted by Ptarmageddon)

A Labrador band formed to find new ways to make a living during the COVID-19 pandemic already has two EPs’ worth of material – and two Music Newfoundland and Labrador nominations.

For musician Scott Neary of Wabush, finding new ways to support himself brought him home from Ontario. He planned to use his time to record his own album, but the pandemic had other plans.

“The pandemic kind of forced me to leave Toronto and come back here and try to make music differently than in a big city. And that’s where I met Matt and Jen.”

“Matt” is Matt Soper and “Jenn” is Jenn Edwards. Neary, guitars and vocals, began playing with them in local bars – originally as a duo but then as an acoustic trio. One of their first sessions was a live streamed concert

Back home, Neary started playing with Matt Soper at a few local bars. The same goes for Jenn Edwards, a fellow musician who taught dance in Labrador West.

After performing as duos, the three formed an acoustic trio, one of their first sessions being a live streamed concert at the Iron Rock Brewing Co. in Labrador City.

Soper – drums, guitar and vocals – said the trio knew they had something special.

“Jaming with two musicians like Scott, Jenn – it was really a thrill,” he said.

A three-piece band performs at a bar.  A man and woman sit in front of microphones while a second man stands in front of a microphone with a guitar.
From left: Matt Soper, Jenn Edwards and Scott Neary perform as Ptarmageddon at CJ’s Pub in Labrador City. (Darryl Dinn/CBC)

The next step was finding a name. They wanted a local name with a twist, so they combined the ptarmigan – a bird found throughout Labrador – with Armageddon. And Ptarmageddon was born.

The group played many local venues, taking requests and covering songs from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Soper jokes he is to blame for her decision to write her own songs.

CLOCK | The members of Ptarmageddon speak to CBC’s Darryl Dinn:

“It’s all my fault,” he said. “I’ve just had a bad week at work and I called Scott and I was like, ‘Man, I’m taking a week off and I’m going to take a week off. Let’s just get together and write music.”

During that week they wrote a new song every day and by the end of the week they found they had the elements to record their first EP. The resulting recording, an EP with six original tracks, was called Holding Pattern and was released in 2021.

In the foreground a drummer plays his set while a guitarist plays and sings into a microphone.
Matt Soper and Scott Neary practice for their upcoming show at the Labrador West Arts & Culture Centre. (Darryl Dinn/CBC)

Jenn Edwards, vocals and keyboards, said the band wanted to keep the momentum going.

“We love playing together, so we just wanted to keep going and keep doing shows,” she said. “So we decided to apply for a grant from Arts NL and they funded our second EP as well as our first music video.”

This video, gravity party, inspired by her love of snowboarding, was filmed on Smokey Mountain in Labrador City last winter. They have a spooky one coming out in late October.

A woman sitting in front of a keyboard sings into a microphone.
Jenn Edwards is practicing with Ptarmageddon for her upcoming show. (Darryl Dinn/CBC)

In August, Ptarmageddon received two nominations for Music NL: alternative artist of the year and rising star of the year.

Soper didn’t think it was true.

“When Scott sent me the screenshot of the two nominations, I thought he was making it up. I thought it was just a joke, like Photoshop,” he said. “But yeah, it was quite a big surprise… A fun little project we started is now a two-time nominated project.”

Following Saturday’s awards ceremony at Corner Brook, the group is set to release their second EP at the end of November. While the first was done with the attitude of having a good time with no expectations, this time things are different.

“It was a little bit difficult to put together because it felt like there was a little more at stake this time,” Neary said.

Dream Logic will be released on Spotify in late November to coincide with their show at the Labrador West Arts & Culture Center on November 25, where they plan to play all of the original songs.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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