To stamp a definitive start date on when Toronto-based punk/rock band Organ Thieves formed isn't an easy task.
The abridged story goes like this: While the idea of the band had been ruminating for several years, it took a series of unexpected pushes forward for vocalist Chuck Coles to transform the band he started in 2008 – as a largely acoustic one-man side project – into the four member outfit it is today. Detailing the road towards the Organ Thieves debut album Somewhere Between Free Men and Slaves (2012, MapleMusic Recordings) makes that origin story read more like a winding epic. While Coles and bassist Mike Smith have known each other since childhood – where they grew up cutting their musical teeth together in Oshawa, Ontario – they each drifted towards their own respective projects. Coles bounced between a variety of musically diverse bands, ranging from punk rock to reggae, in an effort to gather a broader musical perspective. "I grew up listening to everything from Creedence Clearwater Revival to King Tubby, and even hip hop." Coles reflects. "I just wanted to experience as much different music as I could." Eventually, after a stint playing in alternative rock band Cauterize, Coles settled into joining Brown Brigade – the then-newly formed heavy metal/reggae outfit of guitarist Dave Baksh. While playing with Brown Brigade, Coles began delving into the volumes of half-written material he had closely guarded since his early days as a musician. "I'd been playing music my whole life and had never really thought of myself as a songwriter," Coles says. "I always felt like a musician helping other people accomplish their dreams." Coles' personal creative growth became the defining push forward that ultimately spurred him to part ways with Baksh in order to focus on his own songwriting. He began to draw inspiration from his earliest experiences and struggles growing up in what he had always thought of as a typical working class town. "I was living in small town where it felt like everyone was consumed by boredom. There weren't many positive places for me and my friends to turn to, so we grew up thinking you don't have many options in life," says Coles. "When your attitude isn't positivity nurtured, and without the proper guidance a lot of us fell into some pretty dark places. We all survived, but struggles with drugs and getting into trouble were, unfortunately, pretty common." Once he began bringing his earliest songs to friends, including Baksh, it was clear that there was something unique and profound about them and that the two musicians had found a way to reunite their talents. The road towards becoming Organ Thieves began to take shape. In an era where bands can pursue the self-gratification of recording and putting out records seemingly over night, Organ Thieves chose to take a longer path. After enlisting the talents of Smith on bass and eventually finding drummer Theo McKibbon, they began writing new material. "It took us this long for a reason," Coles says. "We wanted to figure out a what we wanted to say, and to make sure we were doing things for the right reasons."