Public transit-loving band sings about buses, brawls and the rockabilly spirit

Public transit-loving band sings about buses, brawls and the rockabilly spirit

If you've never looked at a Montreal city bus and thought, "Now, that's a sweet ride," you probably need a little more rockabilly in your life. Or at least, a little STM Getaway.

The Mile End-based band makes music about wild adventures on Montreal transit routes, and plays a brand of "commuter rock" that gives STM buses all the swagger and style of '50's hot-rods.

In fact, the band started because co-founder Dana Zidulka didn't have a ride of her own.

"I wanted to start a rockabilly band, and [co-founder Randy Peters] was like, 'Well, we can't sing rockabilly 'cause it's all about cars and chicks. And we don't drive, so what do we know about that stuff?'"

But then inspiration struck, and Zidulka decided to swap out convertibles for city buses. She penned the song 11, about a fictional amorous encounter on the Number 11 Parc-du-Mont-Royal / Ridgewood bus.

"It goes right over Mount Royal to Beaver Lake, and for me, that's definitely the most romantic bus," said Zidulka.

To those about to commuter rock, we salute you! 

With the input of co-founder Randy Peters and the addition of bandmates Jan Desrosiers, Jen Macintyre and Lisa Bobrow, the band's imaginative songwriting took off.

One song, bearing the refrain "there's gonna be trouble on the 129," recounts a post-bar squabble on the Côte-Sainte-Catherine route.

Another, called STM Getaway, tells the tale of a Bonnie and Clyde-style bank heist gone wrong when the two robbers find their car is out of gas, and get on a bus instead.

"The bus really provides you with a hook to hang any story on," said Peters.

And although the lyrics are all in good fun, Zidulka says STM Getaway is also driven by a shared love and appreciation for Montreal's transit system, with all its quirks, flaws, and sometimes cramped quarters.

"It's part of our universal experience as Montrealers, being in these intimate conditions with each other everyday on the buses and Metros," said Zidulka.

Listen to the interview on CBC Montreal's Daybreak:

Prochain arrêt: STM Christmas party? 

So does the STM know it's sparked a tribute band of sorts? Not yet, according to Zidulka and Peters.

But they are trying to spread the word to Montreal bus drivers, the old fashioned way.

"We printed out old transfer tickets and put a code to download our music on it,"  Zidulka said.

"We've been giving those to bus drivers. So far they're a bit confused as to why we're giving them a transfer!"

If and when the bus driver fan base does rev up, Peters says they've got big goal to aim toward: playing the STM Christmas party.

"They've got to have a variety of Christmas parties because of how many people work for the STM, right? They'd have to have the Bell Centre or something for a Christmas party!" said Peters.

Until then, they'll keep telling yarns from the streets of Montreal, one bus route at a time.

STM Getaway performs on Jan. 12 at Casa del Popolo. Visit the venue's website for details.