The Argues moved to the Barrie area three years ago for a host of reasons, all centred around making a serious run at their music. After having lived in Toronto in a small two bedroom bungalow for many years, the family picked up and headed to Springwater where they now have a much larger band house, room for their tour bus and equipment trailer. Sound proof rooms and plenty of space for practice three hours a day everyday means the future is looking bright for the band.
“This move was a blessing for us and one of the best things we did as a family and a band,” said Mike, the band's guitarist and a certified accountant. “It was getting pretty cramped in Toronto and when you’re using equipment as a food table you know it’s time for a change.”
The family are all musically self-taught with no one having any real professional lessons. Mike remembers having extended family get-togethers where they would just jam, until a few people started saying that maybe it was time they took their natural talents and made something of it.
"Our first real gig was in June of 2010 at a Salvation Army fundraiser,” said Mike. “Sabrina was 9 and Lauren was 12. It was nerve-wracking but fun. We continued playing a lot of covers but realized it was time to start thinking on writing and creating our own music.”
Influenced by rock, blues, country and folk, The Argues sound has been compared at times to Tom Petty and The Lumineers. It’s the type of sound that you are likely to hear from many festival around Ontario and beyond over the summer, which suits dad just fine.
“We’ll be at Barrie’s Waterfront Festival May 28 and the huge Kempenfest event June 30 with many more around the province in between and after,” said Mike. “We did the bar thing a couple of times near the beginning, but we are more suited to the festivals and large events of that nature.”
Mom Chantale, who is in charge of the bookings, noted that there is a bit of a learning curve in having such a responsibility. Picking and choosing what events can be done, handling fees and working out distance and time on the road can be a lofty chore. But the drummer for the band knows that so long as the focus is on family and the music, the rest will fall into place.
“We attended a Festivals Ontario conference and that was helpful to know what events were best fit to us and when,” said Chantale. “It is a chore sometimes to balance family time, education, work and music but I’m much happier doing this than having someone else do it for us. It really is a total Argues' project.”
The workload isn’t the only thing Chantale balances. With the family being involved in church for many years, making sure the values they believe in are maintained on a circuit where Christian values may not always be at the forefront. Chantale knows that it is dedication and focus which keeps the family level-headed.
“I am a conservative Christian mom, a rock and roll mom and a bandmate,” said Chantale. “Doing what we do, it would be easy to get wrapped up in wanting to get that next song finished first, or book that show immediately, but there are still day to day family things that need taken care of and that’s where the parenting comes in.”
One of those day-to-day things is the education of both daughters. Lauren is adamant that education is one of the most important aspects of their day but admits it was difficult when she and her sister left the school system to do online schooling.
“It was very difficult at first and took some getting use to,” said Lauren. “There is a natural tendency to procrastinate and work on other things. I fell behind the first year, but have come back around. You just have to learn to create a schedule for yourself and keep it. It’s going great now and allows for so much family time too.”
Family time with her sister in particular isn’t as sibling-rivalry based as one might expect. With mom Chantale joking that the girls probably referee the parents more so, Lauren loves the relationship she has with younger sister Sabrina, even though she knows she can be an over-protective big sister at times.
“I know I’m always trying to look out for Sabrina and maybe I get a little bossy especially in studio,” said the 18-year old bass player and vocalist. “It’s a weird dynamic because despite being younger, Sabrina is pretty much the leader of the band with her vocals and such. It’s a great thing to see and hear though when we all come together for the music and each other.”
Sabrina is a real wonder here as she is a bit of a throwback with a bit of modern rock. A fan of Jane Eyre, Sherlock Holmes and vinyl records, the 15-year old lead singer, percussionist, harmonica-playing pianist is an old soul in many aspects, and then will go out on stage like she did at last year’s Oktoberfest in Kitchener and belt out some Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction'.
“I grew up loving classic literature, old movies and some classic rock,” said Sabrina, whose sweet sixteen birthday is May 28. “I’ve just always been attracted to the old way of things in that manner, but love a high energy performance on stage.”
Having started performing at such a young age has given the young musician a chance to iron out the stage fright that sometimes comes with performing. Despite some events being hundreds of people, youngest of the family feels at ease on stage.
“I remember being nervous right before a show, like most people are I’m sure,” said Sabrina. “But now it’s more of an excitement thing and once I get out there it is so fun and I just go with it. It’s a place I really love to be.”
The Argues seemingly have found a recipe for success in maintaining family values and mixing in some rock and roll. As for the challenges that face a family of devoted parents and two teenage girls, mom Chantale says it’s been fun for the family so far and they take it day-by-day.
“Even with a name like The Argues, we have had a really great time doing this with little fighting,” said Chantale. “Sometimes I think the reason Mike got involved so heavily is to keep an eye on his daughters. We were in Kitchener last year and a bunch of boys were yelling ‘I love you Sabrina and Lauren’. When they realized who Mike was and that he was on stage too they yelled ‘we love you too Dad’. It was pretty funny, but right now we’re lucky that the girls are focused on education and music so none of the outside distractions have happened-yet.”
The band’s first album, Something New, is set to be released sometime over the summer and is produced by famed Canadian producer and engineer Michael Jack.
For tour dates and more news about the Argues, check them out at www.theargues.ca