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Belt band performing at Rogue Fest stretches limits of grunge

‘If most grunge is nihilistic…then we could be described as existential grunge’
Members of the prog grunge rock band Belt are taking the genre in new directions.

From a backyard studio in West Sechelt, four unlikely acolytes of grunge — the amplifier-busting, angst-ridden union of punk and hard rock that flourished late in the last century — are redefining the genre through unique musical alchemy. 

The teenage members of Belt, a self-described prog grunge rock band, were born years after the heyday of the so-called Seattle sound. Determinedly grounded in the style’s electric urgency, the group’s musicality is evolving thanks to eclectic influences. 

Drummer Joshua Paolozza is also a seasoned violinist and folk fiddler. Bassist Jack Davis sharpened his syncopation chops playing the saxophone. Singer Brielle Taylor’s first passion was musical theatre. Guitarist and backing vocalist Julian Bailey, who writes the bulk of Belt’s lyrics, is a poet with an appetite for journalism. 

“If most grunge is nihilistic,” said Davis, “then we could be described as existential grunge.” The influence of subtle jazz riffs and Taylor’s honeyed vocals make it clear: Belt knows Nirvana, but is channeling its teen spirit in new directions. 

The ensemble came together in late 2022 thanks to an online appeal by Bailey for bandmates. In addition to gigs at local high schools, they appeared last month at the Roberts Creek Legion alongside Vancouver party band Muffdusters and alt rockers Redwhyn of Halfmoon Bay. 

For Paolozza, who manages Belt’s bookings, the next milestone was clear: Rogue Fest, the annual three-day festival in ts’ukw’um (Wilson Creek) dedicated to inspiring creativity on the Sunshine Coast. 

“I had this dream to play in Rogue Fest and I didn’t think it was going to happen,” said Paolozza. “But I knew I had to do it. I had to try.” 

The group scrambled to arrange a publicity photo shoot. Their application was approved by Rogue Fest organizers. They will play a 50-minute set at the festival on Aug. 19. 

Their Rogue Fest lineup, like most of Belt’s music, is largely original numbers. Their song Repetition laments the Sisyphean monotony of the workaday world. “It’s about the pursuit of greed that kind of corrupts people,” said Bailey. His lyrics describe the quick fix of numbing libations: “a sip to ease my troubled mind, sedated on a nine-to-five.”  

In many of Belt’s songs, hope glimmers on the horizon. “Repetition is really about trying to find your true passion in life,” added Bailey. 

Another piece, Reverence of the Trees, presents a redemption narrative about a timber-hungry logger whose life changes course when he encounters a civilization untouched by colonial influence. 

Taylor confirms that many of the group’s songs are driven by tales of transformation. “Before Belt, I’d never jammed with anyone,” she said. “But this definitely has given me more experience with working in a group and trying to make my stuff fit for other people, especially converting musical theatre style into rock.” 

The group’s name was inspired by cinching a vocal mic with one of Paolozza’s belts. The incident became a metaphor for openness to invention. At a recent rehearsal, members discussed using the Phyrigian scale and complex time signatures in future compositions.  

“When I first came to this band, I was just playing in 4/4, or common time,” said Bailey. “I was a musical commoner. And [Davis, Taylor and Paolozza] kind of expanded my vision of what I could play. There’s still a lot to improve with myself and these guys are definitely going to help me get there.” 

The group is planning gigs in Vancouver and beyond while continuing to expand its catalogue. Instagram users can track Belt’s appearances and evolution via      @beltitoutmusic.