Lights blazing, heart pumping and ears ringing, Andy Roy stepped onto the stage terrified, but ready to give it his all. Thirty seconds in, Roy had already ripped off his bandmate’s guitar strings and helped Remember August create a lasting legacy in the Vancouver music scene.
Formed in 2004, Remember August is a “heartcore” or punk rock band composed of lead singer Andy Roy, guitarist Grant McKenzie and drummer Cody Beer.
Sixteen years since they disbanded in 2007, Remember August is set to perform a reunion concert at Red Gate Arts Society on August 26 alongside Lights Below and Poor Traits.
All three members are currently pursuing vastly different careers: Roy practices law in San Francisco, McKenzie is a professor at McGill and Beer manages a construction company in Vancouver.
Through this show, they hope to revisit this “incredible and out of control” time of their lives.
“We were all part of something special. An odd part of getting a little bit older is you think to yourself ‘Wow, that was really special when I was a kid,’” said Roy. “I didn’t realize it was special at the time, but I wish I could go back again and relive that.”
Remember August’s journey started in the summer of 2004, when Roy and McKenzie decided to join forces and began planning for the early stages of the band. Employing the help of friends and other artists in Vancouver’s local music scene, Remember August began to write, produce and release music.
“A lot of the stuff was recorded in Grant’s garage or at other people’s houses. If we needed it to sound better, it had to be mixed by someone else, and it was always through a friend of a friend. It was really grassroots,” said Roy.
Freshly out of high school and starting his first year at UBC, Roy found refuge in the weekly band practices — a safe haven in his otherwise hectic and overwhelming introduction to college life.
“I would make sure that all my other days were jammed packed with schoolwork, and it was sort of like band practice was the reward,” he said.
Roy and the band’s entrance into the music industry was not all smooth sailing. In the early months of the band, Roy recounted how he would place their show fliers on all 300 desks of a lecture hall, hoping to receive positive feedback and attract some attendees. Instead, they were met with humiliation.
“I’ll be totally frank, every single time I did that and waited to see the response, it would be that class picking it up, laughing hysterically — like ‘pop punk emo, I would never go to this’ — then tossing it aside. It was a totally deflating experience … I thought it was going to create this big buzz at UBC, and in reality, nobody really cared.”
This attitude was not exclusive to his fellow college students — Roy recalls being overlooked by the producers and crew of the Warped Tour.
The Warped Tour was a North American tour headlined by A-list bands, including My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, and played in Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium.
Roy and his bandmates applied for one of the opening slots, but were rejected. Instead of giving up, Roy decided to contact the CEO of Ernie Ball, the company heading stage management.
“I got him on the phone, and I said ‘Hey, you don’t know me, my name is Andy Roy, I’m in Remember August, we applied for the stage and we want to play.’ He effectively told me ‘I’m tired of people like you calling … go away.’”
Being very determined at that age, Roy refused to take no for an answer. After a bit more pushing, he had himself a deal: If he could get the permission of Warped Tour CEO Kevin Lyman, the band could play.
Through blood, sweat, and tears, they tracked down Lyman’s home phone number, called and received the magic word.
“I got him on the phone and said ‘You don’t know me, I’m not a crazy person, please don’t hang up. We were told we could play the tour if you allow it.’ He had basically said ‘I don’t care.’”
Despite Lyman’s consent, Roy and his bandmates were still refused a spot in the tour. Roy resorted to calling the tour’s stage management company every day, until they gave in and Remember August officially became an act for the Warped Tour.
“I think that was a huge turning point, both for the band and for me … if we want to go do something and we want it bad enough, it’s gonna come down to hustle [and] how hard are we willing to work.”
Nearing the end of Remember August’s run, each member slowly drifted away from their initial dreams and began considering careers outside of music. As both Roy and McKenzie’s families heavily emphasized education, McKenzie made the decision to pursue a master’s in Australia, while Roy continued his studies and eventually decided to pursue a JD at UBC.
“It was almost like that time in our lives had passed us by,” said Roy.
When asked about chances of future reunion performances, Roy said that “as of now, [he] could not imagine [they] would ever play together again. But, never say never.”
More information about the August 26 show can be found on Red Gate’s Instagram page (@redgateartssociety).