Rockers win big

Ashley Thompson
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S.S. Khandalla to drop anchor in legendary music studio

From left, Ryan Langdon, Justin Tousignan, Danaan Pederson and Evan Stoney have combined their musical talents to form S.S. Khandalla.

When it comes to making music, S.S. Khandalla’s Ryan Langdon, Evan Stoney, Justin Tousignan, and Danaan Pederson seem to have a knack for writing songs people want to hear. 

And it’s not just their parents who think so.

S.S. Khandalla was named the best high school rock band on mainland Nova Scotia Nov. 10, after wowing the judges at CBC Mainstreet’s first School of Rock competition in Halifax.

The boys — students at Avon View and Horton high schools — played two of their originals, Lady Lady and Rufio, for a packed in-studio audience and countless CBC listeners. And, although it was their second live performance, the judges said watching S.S. Khandalla play was like being at a real rock show.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking, especially since it was broadcast on the radio,” said Ryan Langdon, the band’s lead singer and one of two guitar players.

Despite their nerves, the lads of S.S. Khandalla showed up in matching floral-print shirts, entertained their audience with amusing stage banter and rocked out when the time came, earning their distinctive title as the best high school band on the mainland, and winning recording time in CBC’s Studio H.

Langdon, 16, says one of the highlights of the competition, aside from winning the grand prize, was playing in front of a larger crowd and experiencing the realities of a live performance firsthand.

“When we did our encore my guitar strap broke and Danaan broke a drum stick… everything kind of fell apart, but it was fun,” he said.

“I had to play the second song sitting (on the stage) cross-legged.”

To get to this point in the competition, S.S. Khandalla created a profile on CBC Mainstreet’s page, from which they were selected by School of Rock judges to advance to the semi-finals along with four other bands, and were voted into the final, in-studio competition by CBC listeners.

“The day before voting ended…we had dropped down to fourth place so we weren’t sure we were even going to make it in.”

Langdon says getting to the finals was a long, stressful process but it encouraged them to starting campaigning for votes and introducing people to their music.

Now, Langdon says, it’s back to their bassist’s basement to write more songs and practice before recording a radio-ready single in Studio H in January or February of next year.

“We’re hoping to just keep messing around Evan’s basement and eventually start playing some more shows once we have a larger selection of songs to play.”

Organizations: CBC, School of Rock

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Halifax

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