Q&A with Canadian blues-rock band BIG PACIFIC, veteran musicians honed their skills and creative expression on

"In the beginning music was so young and fresh, people were excited to try new things and there was lots of opportunity for experimentation. Nowadays with technology things can sometimes become a bit repetitive."

Big Pacific: Rockin On The Blue(s) Waves

Big Pacific is Vancouver Island's premier original music rock n roll band! Fans of guitar-driven , blues tinted classic rock will want to get onboard the grass-roots journey with Big Pacific. This is no tribute band ... the strong, melodic themes and grooves are themselves a tribute to the great rock tunes these veteran musicians honed their skills and creative expression on. Canadian blues-rock band Big Pacific formed in 2015 and are a very diverse group of seasoned musicians that blend to form a tight dynamic live performance. Their new release Welcome To The Party (2020) is the culmination of years of woodshedding songs in rehearsals and then polishing them in front of live audiences. All four members of Big Pacific contribute their talents to the songwriting process, with each adding his own personal stamp to the songs. The band has performed at numerous festivals and club gigs on Vancouver Island, where they have impressed audiences with their professionalism and ability to connect with people. With the new CD the goal is to embrace the rest of Canada by bringing the nation some West Coast groove. Welcome To The Party is a much-needed celebration of inclusivity and positivity - an invitation to everyone to step up and have a little fun as we all join the party of everyday life.                                                Big Pacific / Photo by Doug Fetherston 

Big Pacific Are: Roly Sandoval (guitar & vocals) is a veteran of Western Canada’s professional music scene. Starting off in Calgary in the 80s he went on to work in some of Alberta’s premier rock bands. He’s also done extensive studio work, appeared on radio and TV, and has played great rock and roll from the Arctic Circle to Mexico. Nick Dokter (drums & vocals) started his music career in South Africa as a teenager quickly becoming a sought-after session player. He continued his studio work in London at the PYE Studio where he rubbed shoulders with Ronnie Wood, Arthur Brown, and Van Morrison. Nick carried on his session work upon arrival in Canada, working with the Juno-nominated Richard Stepp Band, Oliver and the Elements and Jimmy D lane, son of late Muddy Waters, and guitar man Jimmy Rogers. Wayne Veillet (bass & vocals) is Big Pacific's Nanaimo connection. Wayne brings talent, dedication and technical expertise. Having been with a popular local band, for 16 years and establishing his 'Wayon Sound' recording studio. John Hannah, aka Johnny Blitz (keyboards) is a multi-talented musician featured on keyboards, guitar and vocals. John has done extensive studio and TV work. He has performed on a litany of fabulous music shows including (but not limited to) Live Aid, David Letterman, The Princess Diana Trust Concert, Solid Gold, American Bandstand, and Tina Turner's performance at the Juno's. Even more impressive is John's two and a half years in Heart's touring band and eight years touring with Bryan Adams.

Interview by Michael Limnios                   Special Thanks: Sarah French Publicity

How has the Blues n' Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Nick: Music gave me the freedom to find myself and meet people who had experienced the same struggles I was going through. It took me all over the world and opened my eyes to opportunities that I will never forget. It was in South Africa where I found my roots in the culture and met a bunch of friends that introduced me to the Blues sound. They brought me in and gave me the chance to pick up the sticks. From there things just kind of took off. Blues music allowed me to be myself and also intermix all types of people. At that time in South African politics was always in your face and things were heavy. With music I was able to create my own little vibe and escape.

Roly: As I have matured, it is easy to recognize the influence of the Blues and Rock communities, both fellow musicians and of course our supporters, in shaping my humble views of the world. I've interacted with the wealthy and the blue collar crowd, with artists and job-oriented entertainers. I've listened to soft spoken and extroverted points of view on every aspect of the human condition. Now, I can say that communication is totally key in a functioning world.  Ideas and feelings, I use these tools to create music ...and I do believe it can make the world a better place, wherever you go.

How do you describe band's sound, music philosophy and songbook? What is the story behind "Big Pacific" name?

Roly: Our band came together here on Vancouver Island. So, being surrounded by the ocean, BIG PACIFIC came to mind quite naturally. Our sound is old-school spirit meets modern life for a tequila and some great conversation. We are Roots, Blues and Rock all rolled into one benevolent and mighty force of home-grown nature.

"My fears for the future are that only winners of TV talent contests will get any airtime and that, after this pandemic, concern for live music and real skills will dwindle like a fading light." (Photo: Big Pacific)

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Nick: I was incredibly lucky and humbled to have worked with so many talented musicians here in Canada and abroad plus it was very heart-warming being in demand by fellow musicians with such a high caliber. A particularly important person in my career was a gentleman by the name of Gary Stevens. He is an incredible vocalist and musician who knows everything there is to know about the music industry. He taught me a lot. One day we were recording a track with a talented engineer by the name of Laurie Wallace. After about the first 5 takes Laurie stopped us and said to me, “Nick, you're a great technical drummer but you need to play stupid on recordings.” I didn’t understand what he meant but Gary took me to one side and broke it down. He said, “you need to play really simple, just feel the music.” It was the best advice I’ve ever gotten and helped us finish the track right there.

Roly: Oddly, the best advice I got was from Dan Aykroyd, from TV and movies. Years ago, I was playing music down in Memphis at a supper club. Mr. Aykroyd was there one night and had the manager come and get us for a meet and greet, when he found out we were a Canadian band. He was scouting locations for the second Blues Brothers movie and Ghost Busters was in every theater in America. Anyway, he said ... Be proud of who you are, where you come from and what you do. That is what makes you unique and special to the world. Don't be afraid to do what you do anywhere, anytime and in front of anybody, even if they are better or further along than you. and, Hey, we are Canadian. We can do anything...  I took it to say...Believe in yourself to the highest genuine degree.

Are there any memories from Ronnie Wood, Arthur Brown, and Van Morrison which you’d like to share with us?

Nick: There was a time we all used to work in a studio under the label called Pye Records in London. They had about 3 recording rooms so there were a lot of musicians going back and forth. Everyone was always excited and friendly, passing each other in the hallways. It was inspiring to go to the coffee room and see someone like Ronnie Woods playing a riff on his bass. They were all really down to earth guys.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Roly: I have had the amazing fortune of opening for, jamming with and meeting big name artists and people who would become big names in the business. There are so many, I would sound like a name dropper if I began to name them. One of my favorite stories goes as follows though. As a teen, I went to see one of my guitar heroes who was playing with his current band at a university pub, of all places. One night only, special event. Wow! So I mustered up the courage to talk to him and asked if I could buy him a drink. "Sure, gin and tonic would be great. Hey kid, you look like a guitar player too. So what are YOU drinking?" he said. I answered ....beer. Later I paid the waiter for his drink and was given a big round of beers for me and my friends. Say what!  And the waiter says," These are from your buddy up there on the stage." I couldn't believe it. What a gesture! I'll never forget it.

"Right now, the impact is teetering on the brink because, in today's world, nobody has a clear picture of the future. Blues, Roots and Rock are fundamental to popular music because the subject matter is the telling of what is going on with all of us, the real people. I would like people to stay real and keep up with the music they care about... to create a system of personal power to endure these challenging times." (Photo: Big Pacific, Vancouver Island's premier original music rock n roll band)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Nick: In the beginning music was so young and fresh, people were excited to try new things and there was lots of opportunity for experimentation. Nowadays with technology things can sometimes become a bit repetitive. The “formula” tends to stay the same. I prefer the old over the new ways, but you know that's the signs of the times, you just have to go with the flow. Hopefully, the newer generation will work hard to find inspiration without forgetting about where the music came from.

Roly: I miss real Rock work ethic and attitude. Every band used to practice and polish their shows and then go kick butt like it was the biggest show of your life. We really felt like we had so much to prove. My fears for the future are that only winners of TV talent contests will get any airtime and that, after this pandemic, concern for live music and real skills will dwindle like a fading light.

Make an account of the case of Blues Rock in South Africa. What are the differences between UK and Canadian scene?

Nick: The UK rock and blues scene in the late 60s and 70s was a free-for-all. In South Africa it was mostly underground but when I arrived in England, we had all the freedom to go anywhere. We would run into musicians who were up-and-coming who have now made a huge impact on in the music world. As the rock scene developed a lot of people branched off from the Blues into that and the sound became extremely popular. For me as a drummer it really did not matter if I played with blues bands or a rock bands as long as the members were passionate about the music. At that time, the Canadian scene wasn’t as developed but it was actually really nice being part of that era where everything was “new,” and people were excited to develop new structures and sounds within the music industry.

"Our band came together here on Vancouver Island. So, being surrounded by the ocean, BIG PACIFIC came to mind quite naturally. Our sound is old-school spirit meets modern life for a tequila and some great conversation. We are Roots, Blues and Rock all rolled into one benevolent and mighty force of home-grown nature." (Photo: Big Pacific are Roly Sandoval, Nick Dokter, Wayne Veillet, and John Hannah)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Nick: Keep it simple, don't get too crazy. Make sure to follow through with your responsibilities and keeping your word is the key to maintaining order in your life.

Roly: A couple of important things I've learned are: 1) Be wide open all the time. Ideas and opportunities come at the strangest times, from the strangest sources. 2) Be cognizant of all those around you. Show respect and consideration whenever possible.

What is the impact of Blues and Rock on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Nick: I just want people to enjoy the music and forget about their problems. It’s nice that music has the power to bring people together and allows them to appreciate life for the moment, no matter what they may be going through at the time.

Roly: Right now, the impact is teetering on the brink because, in today's world, nobody has a clear picture of the future. Blues, Roots and Rock are fundamental to popular music because the subject matter is the telling of what is going on with all of us, the real people. I would like people to stay real and keep up with the music they care about... to create a system of personal power to endure these challenging times.

Let us take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Nick: I’d go back to England during 1970 for a visit to see some old friends and go to some of the places that I first played in. There were a lot of good memories and I learned so much about music during that time. That and the fashion was fun. It was all peace, love, and rock concerts.

Roly: I would like to go back to the time of The Hot Club of Paris and see Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Oh and of course, Liverpool to see the Beatles at the Cavern Club. Yeah baby!

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