Photo by: Stephanie Montani
After more than a decade, Stereos is back.

The Edmonton pop-punk band was founded in 2006 and first gained notoriety from their 2008 appearance on MuchMusic’s disBAND. Their self-titled debut – featuring not one but three platinum singles, garnered instant success and a massive fan following. Stereos continued on a rapid incline, releasing their second album Uncontrollable and touring relentlessly in 2010.

With their first album in over ten years, the freshly-reformed group present a new sound, looking not only to evoke a sense of nostalgia in fans but also provide a platform for their individual music talents. Featuring original members Patrick Kordyback, Miles Holmwood and Robb Chalifoux with Aaron Verdonk, Cheap Thrills finds the band expanding on their signature sound.

The first track Kordyback wrote following the band’s 2019 sold-out reunion shows in Toronto and Edmonton, “Sunset Gold” – a song about the band getting back together in the package of a love song, was released in 2020 to give fans a glimpse of what was to come from the re-banding. 

Like “Sunset Gold”, Cheap Thrills’ tracks “Look Good” and “Glory Days” also have personal dual meanings:

““Glory Days” is a kind of a tongue-in-cheek nod to the fact that some people will look at the band reforming and say, ‘You’re just trying to relive the old days. You miss being the centre of attention.’ But to me, it’s like… You know how American Thanksgiving is notorious for everybody going back to their hometown, drinking at the same bars they used to, and hanging out? That’s the vibe we wanted. That’s how it was with Stereos every time we toured; seeing old friends and musicians we knew from the road, being in town for one night, and telling the same stories we told a million times.”

Though Kordyback pens Stereos’ tracks, the new album holds significance for the entire band. For Kordyback, it was dealing with the end of his marriage. For Chalifoux, it represents the light at the end of a difficult tunnel – navigating addiction recovery over the past ten years. For Verdonk, an unexpected life shift highlighted his need to go all in, betting on himself and the band and personally financing some of the album’s early writing trips. For Holmwood, a never-fading sense of unfinished business that couldn’t move forward without his bandmates on board.

It was those sold out reunion shows back in 2019 that truly ignited the band’s desire to return to their music:

“It’s not lost on us that you don’t get to do what we’re doing right now – you don’t get to leave the music industry and then come back and give it another go – but for some reason, we’ve been given that opportunity from people who we meant something to. Those shows were a game-changer – they led me to write new music for Stereos, and to the band and myself falling back in love with music again.”

Their reignited passion resulted in a record that’s new and compelling from start to finish, channeling the band’s signature sound and influences while never letting go of their well-known (and loved) pop sensibilities. Cheap Thrills – like it’s predecessors, defies a straightforward genre categorization:

“We’ve always mixed and mashed up sounds and genres you don’t necessarily hear together. But on this record, we really wanted to capture the sound of the band live, and I felt like it had the freedom to put all my influences and experiences into a final product that I hope will speak to literally anybody who hears it.”

Cheap Thrills is an album reminiscent of old times while cognisant of the present and hopeful for the future. A pleasant surprise for fans, eight years following their permanent disbanding – or so they thought.

Q: Being on a hiatus for quite some time, what ignited and initiated your reunion?

Back in 2019, we decided to jump on the opportunity to do a 10-year reunion show in Toronto. At the time, we felt like it could be a nice way to finally say goodbye properly to all the fans because our break up was kind of out of nowhere. When that show sold out, we decided to do one more in Edmonton and that show also sold out. From there, we’d caught the bug again and decided we needed to give this whole thing another shot.

Q: Tell us about your latest track “Glory Days”:

Glory Days” is a song about celebrating all the great memories people create with the people closest to them. For me, it was a song about our band, because we’ve seen each other grow so much over the years and have so many amazing shared experiences. But I do think it’s a theme everyone can relate to within their own circles for sure.

Q: The new song is a reminiscent of old times, what's a standout band memory?

It’s very hard to narrow it down, but one of my favorites will always be the first time we came home to Edmonton after seeing some success and selling out the Starlite Room while also being presented with our first gold plaques. It had some added meaning because that venue used to be called the Rev, and it was the exact place where I saw the band AFI in 2000 and decided on the spot to stop playing sports, stop skateboarding, and put everything into music.

Q: You guys previously released “Look Good.” What was the creative process behind that single?

Look Good” was 100% our desire to put out a feel good song about self-love and positivity in tough times. This last year has been so challenging for everyone and I’m definitely no exception there, so an up-tempo dance track with an undeniably positive vibe felt like the move.

Q: What can listeners expect from Stereos’ forthcoming album Cheap Thrills?

I think this album is going to be crazy. It’s definitely hook-driven pop music, which is exactly where we love to be, but I think we decided to draw outside the lines quite a bit with lyrical themes and even different genres. I can’t wait to put it out!

Q: Being launched into the Canadian music scene back in 2008 via MuchMusic, how have you seen the industry evolve over the last decade?

It’s honestly a completely different reality altogether with the way people seek out and consume music. At the end of the day, I believe the best songs will always give you a great shot, but there are just so many different outlets to explore when trying to get yourself out there. But I also think that’s very positive, the more platforms people have to express themselves, the better.

Q: Since your debut on disBAND, Stereos very quickly amassed a huge fan following – what can you say about the fans who have been there since the beginning?

I feel like I cannot overstate how much the fans mean to us. And I know every band feels that way or says that, but for us to disappear for 8 years and have all these amazing people so excited to hear what we’re doing next is a blessing that’s hard to put into words. They’re everything to us.

Q: What’s next for Stereos?

We’re going to be releasing more and more new music until it’s time for the best part – tour and meeting all the fans!