Volume 96, Issue 14
Friday, September 20, 2002

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Local Spotlight #2: Bryan Pole
Who is Bryan Pole?

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

Local Spotlight Artist: Bryan Pole
Weapons of Choice: vocals, guitar, guts and a gray computer
Location: London, Ontario

Who is Bryan Pole? According to Samuel Stephen Shelstad, "Bryan Pole" is someone he doesn't even know. "There was a contest where I had to write an essay on being Sam Shelstad," Shelstad explains, "but the announcer [in charge of the event] kept introducing me as 'Bryan Pole'." And so Bryan Pole was born.

Armed with an acoustic guitar and what he calls "guts," the 19-year-old took his alter-ego and recorded all the tracks of his independently produced CD What Kind of Man Are You? on his dad's computer (aka Shelstudios).

"I don't know what kind of computer it is," Pole says. "It's a gray one – and I record with an $8 microphone on a program called CoolEdit."

With such cost-effective equipment, the final product has an emphatically homemade sound that is refreshing and, more often than not, a total and complete riot.

What Kind of Man Are You? is super raw with distorted vocals, campfire guitars and flourishes of electronic gadgetry. It's also a time-saver – the album packs in 18 tracks covering every interesting topic you can think of in just under 17 and a half minutes.

"There are songs about pain, angst, middle-age angst, being very sober, life expectancy, a new school year, strong friendships and big bills," says Pole.

Other songs deal with running from a police dog (which ends with some highly skilled barking), the greatness of bake sales and strangely wanting to swing the other way at the sight of a tall man in a movie theatre.

Pole recalls the story behind the track "It Happened at the Cinema."

"I went to see a movie, I think I was seeing Jurassic Park 3 and I saw this really tall man. And that's how the song came about. I never did find out whether it was really two kids pretending to be tall," Pole recounts.

Aside from such life experiences, Pole also draws from other sources as inspiration for his writing.

"I go on the Internet and copy interesting slogans I see there," says Pole. "Usually all [of my] songs are written this way."

In terms of the sound that is emitted when he performs, Pole sees it as a competition between his instruments. "I sing and play guitar and I see both of them as [being] in a battle trying to win the audience's attention."

Such audiences have usually admired the Bryan Pole experience at schools and at benefits. Although one might think that a guy who sings about eating dragon feces is simply silly, Pole has a different perception of the crowd's take on him. "People take me seriously," he says, "but usually they think I'm a giant guy."

Although many musicians aspire to be giants, signing record deals, touring the world and hopping onto the first train to fame and fortune, Pole has more personal and important ambitions. "My main goal is to win the approval of my parents and all parents in Canada," he states.

And then there's the musician's epiphany when one finally understands that rock 'n' roll is his ultimate and true destiny – so when did Bryan Pole discover that he wanted to be a musician?

"When I realized I was a genius."

Bryan Pole will be playing Saturday at Call The Office as part of the Unity Project Benefit. Doors are at 7:00 p.m.. Tickets are $5 at the door.

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2002 THE GAZETTE