Artist Spotlight: Duck!

Pop punk and playing around is at the heart of the new four-piece from downtown Vancouver

(From left to right): Devalin Galloway, Jens Johnson, David Webb, and Sam Herle are the members of Duck!. (Alyssa Laube)

With a sound inspired by 90s pop punk, Duck! invites the Vancouver community to get silly with them at their live shows.

The band in its current form has only existed since the end of the summer, when Jens Johnson, Sam Herle, Devalin Galloway, and David Webb came together to start a playful, down-to-earth project. Each of the members have been otherwise involved in the local music scene, contributing to bands like Elf Pity, but now have dedicated themselves to releasing Duck!’s first record, an EP called Pond Scum.

Right now, only two songs are available on Duck!’s Bandcamp page: “duck! 2” and “duck! 5”. All of their tracks have similarly ambiguous titles—a habit that Herle says makes counting their completed works confusing. Pond Scum is guaranteed to include somewhere between five and 10 songs when it is dropped by the spring of next year.

“We started off more pop punk-ish, but now we’re doing more. There’s a spoken word song, and songs that have more yelling,” says Herle. “We’ve incorporated a performance gimmick into some of our shows also. During breaks where there are no words I have to sing we’ve done costume changes, running outside and picking flowers and bringing them back. Just a bunch of wacky stuff.”

For Galloway, throwing on glitter to perform on stage is one of the best parts of being in the band, other than helping create and record the music. Johnson adds that the dynamic between himself and the other three “ducks” has a special place in his heart.

“We’re very similar, I feel. We’re all on the same page with sound and direction and where we want to go,” he says. “I think the fact that we have a similar perspective on the reasons why we play music and how that fits into the community at large is the most important to me.”

Getting the crowd to do more than bob their heads while sipping beer is a key goal for Duck!—especially for Herle, who is free to make use of the stage and interact with the crowd without an instrument to carry.

“One of my favourite aspects of the band is the performativity to it. It started off with us covering fun stuff like “Karma Chameleon”. We even had a stuffed chameleon we would throw around and everyone would get super into it during the chorus,” says Herle. “We [in Vancouver] don’t really have anything outside of the realm of just regular bands playing and audiences listening. There’s a lack of experimental stuff too.”

Although visiting the band’s social media pages brings plenty of images of friendly, feathered ducks, the name of the group itself has a very different meaning: as Herle puts it, “the action of ducking.” This meaning has slowly been lost over the months, but the members don’t seem to mind.

“I feel like we just got carried away. It was ‘duck’ like the verb, and just with ducks being so charismatic and loveable, I get attached to them,” says Johnson.

The band hopes to schedule a short tour as soon as possible, with hopes of taking a longer trip in the summertime. Duck! will be playing at The Matador to raise funds for W.I.S.H., a charitable organization for women working in the street-based sex trade in the Downtown Eastside, on Dec. 15.