How to build a metal band in three easy steps with Calgary’s Greybeard

There’s usually a lot of work that goes into forming a band, writing songs, getting them heard and booking shows, but Ross Andersen makes it look easy. Having been in punk/rock acts around town for most of his adult life, he has a good sense of how a band works, which is probably why after the dissolution of his last metal group, Hope Defeated — one he describes as a “dad project hardcore band” — he was able to take what was left and build on it, creating a new project in his basement between work and family. At first he began recording the music himself, then eventually enlisting other musicians to help create the sound and build a new outfit – Greybeard.

The first member Andersen recruited was drummer Casey Rogers, a friend and former bandmate who he had asked to help him out with recording some of his songs.

“I come from playing a lot of extreme kind of fast hard and complex stuff,” says Rogers, “and the idea of doing something a bit more groovy, something a little more stripped down just appealed to me. To just lay back and play some grooves.”

Playing the lead guitar for this new project didn’t come easily for Andersen, so in a serendipitous move he began to take lessons from the man who would eventually become the third member. “After I did my first recording,” says Andersen, “I thought, ‘You know what? I am not very good at lead guitar’. I needed to do more lead guitar, and, this is no word of a lie, I looked up ‘lead guitar lessons Calgary’ online and this guy came up.”

This guy being Guy Onraet, originally from South Africa and a fan of the genre and direction that Andersen was taking. And, after giving him lessons for awhile,Onraet took Andersen up on his invitation to play the leads on the new recordings. Not quite Ace Frehley answering an ad in the Village Voice, but close.

Rounding out Greybeard’s sound would require some more vocals, which were provided by Amanda Bourdon, who had also met Andersen through his previous groups, and who brings both vocals and bass to the table. “I was just super excited to have them ask me to join the band! … It’s nice to be back on the bass in a heavy setting.”

And, as an added bonus, she also plays keyboards. Band complete.

And what would Greybeard classify as their genre of music, exactly? “I would just say straight-up heavy metal,” says Rogers, with Andersen adding, “It’s got elements of death metal, it’s got elements of prog, it’s got a bit of stoner rock feel once in awhile…”

Bourdon laughs. “It has a galloping feel to it.”

Band sorted and sound determined, from there the songs were fleshed out and they decided, after convincing Andersen it was a good idea, to start looking at playing shows. The first gig they applied for was the Loud As Hell metal festival in Drumheller coming up in August — and, for a group that hadn’t even played a show before, they ended up not only being accepted, but getting an amazing 8:30 p.m. Saturday slot.

Rogers is no stranger to the Loud As Hell festival: “I’ve played pretty much all of them and … it’s such a good time, really great people that run it and really well run show as well – a huge metal party.”

You’ve been warned, Drumheller.

But first, Greybeard takes the stage for their debut Friday, July 6 at Dickens as part of a great metal lineup that features women in each of the acts. They’ll be playing some new songs along with the older material, for those that follow them on Bandcamp, Apple Music or Spotify.

The members of Greybeard don’t necessarily see world domination ahead, but are definitely interested in continuing to play together, gig and just see where it takes them. “Now we’re a band and no longer just a basement project,” says Andersen. “It’s totally fun.”

Greybeard plays Dickens Pub Friday, July 6 with At Dawn’s Edge, Pervcore, Fjell Thyngor & A-Bomb. They will also perform at the Loud As Hell festival Aug. 3-5 in Drumheller. For more information please click here.

Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued to bring event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE and her event listings page, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at