Mitchell Mussenden says he kind of always expected he and Lucas Antoni would start playing music together. Mussenden, 24, and Antoni, 23, went to school together in Campbell River and Mussenden remembers that one day, Antoni was over at his place playing music and they decided to start doing music together and see what happens.
“It was really spontaneous,” said Antoni. “Honestly, there’s no real big story behind it,” agreed Mussenden. “It was just years of ‘it’s probably going to happen at some point.’”
A few years ago, Mussenden and Antoni formed How Could I, blending acoustic music with alt-rock, post-punk and jazz to create a unique sound that’s been catching people’s attention and opening up opportunities since they started performing. This spring, Patrick Herman, 23, joined the band on drums.
“We were fortunate enough that everything just kind of worked out,” said Antoni. “Like we had just one good experience after another, all these blessings.”
“For the first year and a half of us getting involved with music and live music, which is what we jumped into, was just phenomenal,” agreed Mussenden. “We got nothing but positive responses from the people that we were around.”
Antoni and Mussenden started playing music together nearly four years ago.
“We met a friend named Trent and he got us really involved in playing at the open mics and getting us involved with music and everything,” said Mussenden. “We started getting more passionate about it. We had a lot of people pushing us and telling us we were doing a really good job for the lack of experience that we both had at the time, so we both started doing that and we started writing our own original material — and that was really fun, seeing the response that we’d get from friends and family or just strangers out at the open mics. We started playing at places like Painter’s Lodge and getting really good responses from the ever-changing crowd.”
Herman had seen Antoni and Mussenden play a couple of times before he met up with them. They did phenomenal as an acoustic duo,” he said.
They met at a jam at Super Mario’s Bar and Lounge. “There was nobody on drums because they were just in duo and I
was just there for hanging out and checking out the scene,” said Herman. “They played Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Under the Bridge’ and I just couldn’t help myself and I went up there and sat on the kit. They came to the part where the drums come in and I came in.”
“We’d never met before,” continued Herman. “I just walked up there. I’m pretty sure I actually missed my cue and then they noticed I was back there and I told them to loop it around and they went back into it.”
“That was hilarious,” said Antoni. “It worked perfectly.”
And then they didn’t see each other again for a year. They saw each other once more but then again not for another year. Herman and Mussenden bumped into each other at a friend’s house and Mussenden told Herman that they were thinking of expanding and getting a drummer. Herman was open and said he’d love to come and play with them because he knew he liked what they were doing.
A couple of years ago, How Could I won a small recording demo at Dove Creek. The Flying Canoe Pub in Courtenay was hosting a competition for local acts to play for a free one- or two-song recording experience.
Antoni says this was a moment that kickstarted the band. They started working on more original songs and thinking about going into the studio.
Antoni and Mussenden started recording their first self-titled EP about a year ago. “It was a cool experience,” said Antoni. “We got to work with some great people.”
They worked with performance coach Jason Parsons and Jacob Gregory, who owns Aurora Music Studios in Comox. Parsons co-produced the EP, while Gregory engineered the album. Herman wasn’t in the band at the time so he doesn’t play on the EP. Gregory did the drum and bass tracks on the recording. “I’m itching to get in there,” said Herman. “I really want to do it.”
How Could I celebrated the release of its EP April 22 at the Carriage Room at the Royal Coachman Inn, with a sold-out show opened by Courtenay’s Joey Clarkson.
“That was some of the most fun I’ve had playing those songs,” said Herman. “I was definitely really blown away by how nice the Carriage Room was and how many people were there. It was better than I could have imagined.”
This spring, the band was also nominated for two Vancouver Island Music Awards: Group/Duo of the Year and Pop Recording for “Killing Clocks.”
Looking forward, How Could I will playing at Painter’s Lodge throughout the summer, and the band plans to write songs and work on the business side too, supporting the EP and building up some merchandise.
“It definitely helps having such supportive friends and family that the three of us have,” said Antoni. “It’s done so many favours for us. And even people to help us push. Even at the EP release party, we had friends swapping at the merch table, Joey Clarkson selling CDs for us. We didn’t expect any of that to happen. We have so many supportive friends. Every time I think about stuff like that, it seems more and more like this is meant to work because so many good things just present themselves.”
“Overall, it’s been an amazingly overwhelming experience the last couple of years, just to see how positive of a reaction we’ve received,” said Mussenden.
To learn more about How Could I, visit howcouldimusic.com or look for them on Facebook.