DURHAM’S MUSIC SCENE: Crown Lands bring awareness to Indigenous issues through music

Kevin Comeau (left) and Cody Bowles make up the rock duo, the Crown Lands. Photo credit: Courtesy of Kevin Comeau

Since the formation of Crown Lands in 2015, the focus of the band’s message hasn’t faltered. Through their music, educating and bringing awareness to Indigenous issues continues to be a goal for the rock duo.

Guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist, Kevin Comeau, 25, says one motivation behind the band’s message has to do with the heritage of lead singer and drummer, Cody Bowles, 25.

“Cody is half Indigenous, he’s half Mi’kmaq,” says Comeau. “We just want to bring awareness at the very least to the fact that Indigenous people across the country are still fighting to be treated equally.”

That commitment can even be seen in the band’s name, the crown lands (government lands) is where you can find Indigenous reserves in Canada, says Comeau.

“Canada was founded on genocide and people are not really taught that in public education,” says Comeau. “I didn’t even know that until I was much older.”

Comeau adds 113 of these native reserves are in a water crisis and have mercury in their drinking water, which he finds unacceptable. He hopes that anyone listening to the band’s music feels inspired to do the right thing, not only for themselves but for the people around them.

For anyone who has never listened to Crown Lands, Comeau recommends any new listener give Mountain a listen. That tune is about residential schools and colonization.

Even though Crown Lands has been around for almost five years, Bowles and Comeau have only known each other since they were 19.

Comeau first met Bowles during his year-long break from the classical music program he was taking at the University of Western Ontario. He had been touring in California with a reggae band and decided to come back home to Whitby to visit family.

Comeau’s friend was auditioning for Bowles’s band and Comeau went with his friend to the audition. Comeau went because he heard Bowles – like him – was a huge Rush fan.

They immediately hit it off and kept in contact. One day in August, 2015 that connection led to the formation of Crown Lands. Comeau wanted the band to capture its spirit while doing right by its biggest musical inspirations like Rush and Led Zeppelin.

The Oshawa rock duo has taken the music world outside of Oshawa by storm. Oshawa Music Awards organizer, William McGuirk, 54, says the rock duo’s popularity in the music scene outside of Oshawa is a little surprising.

“Yeah… it is actually and not because of their sound or their show, but just it’s been so fast,” says McGuirk. “They’re playing with big names and there is a lot of interest in them, you know for bands around here that doesn’t happen too often.”

Oshawa Music Awards organizer and Kops Records employee, William McGuirk holding up the Crown Lands’ second extended play record, Rise over Sun. Photo credit: Dennis Price

Those big names Crown Lands has performed with include Protest The Hero, Coheed and Cambria, The Lazys, Primus and former White Stripes’ guitarist and vocalist, Jack White.

McGuirk says Crown Lands is a throwback to the 1970s – minus the rock and roll lifestyle – as they come off more as a straightedge rock and roll band.

Comeau revealed they are currently working on a new album in Ohio, adding it’s inspired by Jack White.

“We toured with Jack White last year and so this new album that we are going to be putting out has a lot of his kind of ‘swagger’ on it,” says Comeau. “He definitely inspired us a lot with the way he writes and plays music.”

The new album will feature one song that Comeau graciously talked about, it focuses on the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. This is a topic both Bowles and Comeau wanted to highlight in the new album.

At this time there is no formal release date on the Crown Lands’ next album, but Comeau says the plan is to have it out sometime this spring.