BY YUSRA KHAN AND DAWID CIELOSZCZYK
Well, maybe you should think twice about breaking your curfew around these guys. House Arrest is a band that includes Vancouver Lawyers and a Provincial Court judge. The spectacle of being an all-around talented person does exist, and it might make you jealous, as House Arrest plays a stunning array of genres, without a hitch. They can be found strumming and picking to jazz, classic rock, pop, R&B, and other influences.
Legal Eye went to the frontlines last week to experience this fantastic group for ourselves, and we were pleasantly surprised. We were quite interested to hear a bit more about this group, so for your reading pleasure, we interviewed David Hay, and the band happens to be just as funny as it is talented.
David Hay, partner in the litigation group at Richards Buell Sutton LLP (RBS), talks to us about his double life as lead singer of House Arrest, his favourite songs on current rotation, and discharging the onus probandi when performing in front of a new crowd.
Thanks to Richards Buell Sutton LLP for graciously sponsoring tickets for a few lucky UBC law students to see House Arrest perform at Joe’s Apartment last Friday night.
Note the responses have been edited by Legal Eye writer Yusra Khan for grammar and clarity.
When and why did you start playing?
When I was 6 years old, I had guitar lessons but my teacher smoked pot and the smell grossed me out so my parents fired him and I started learning on my own. By the time I was 12 years old I had a band. We played one song, mainly to get girls. No one could play all that well, except the drummer, so we’d build the song around a 20-minute solo during which we would go after the girls in the room (and the booze that we stole from our parents).
It seems the appreciation for a great drummer was born at a very young age for David!
How did you meet your other bandmates?
I met the drummer Chiko Misomali through a bandmate in a former band, the Bickertons. He was just leaving Biff Naked’s band so we caught him at a weak moment. Chiko also had a house gig down at Bar None with Brian King (who was my bandmate at the time) Dave Taylor (former bass player for Brian Adams), and others, so he was in a happy place. He is our Charlie Watts, and like Mick and Keith, we still try to keep him happy because he is the bed we all lie on. I have had lousy drummers and still resent them to this day.
I met Michael Hurst through music and he also was in the Bickertons, then joined House Arrest.
I met David St. Pierre, Jon Monk, and Dan Burnett through legal channels. They came together primarily to compete in the annual CBA Battle of the Bar Bands, and we kept going from there. I met Shabaz Khan, the bass player through Dan Burnett. Chiko, Michael and Shabaz are not lawyers, but normal people with big talent.
What is the inspiration behind the name ‘House Arrest’?
It reflects the lawyer component; people who do bad things consider ‘House Arrest’ to be a good thing.
What are some of your favourite songs?
Hmmm, right at this moment:
- How You Like Me Now (The Heavy)
- Brightside, All These Things I’ve Done (The Killers)
- Young Americans (David Bowie)
- Gold On the Ceiling, The Black Keys (coincidentally also one of this interviewer’s favourites!)
- Creep (Radiohead)
But I’m like a teenager when it comes to favourite songs; they change, and when I have one I’ll play it 50 times in a row.
Have you ever thought about writing original music? (Based on your set list online, I’m assuming the band only does covers)
I have a lot of my own songs- a few EPs, and I write all the time. I may even roll out a song or two at Joe’s Apartment on September 26, but I understand that covers work for a party like setting where people are looking to blow off steam. We like to see people move, so we perform covers. If I didn’t have a good day job I might not take that approach. I am actually quite conflicted about it.
House Arrest did in fact play an original song to a very appreciatively loud and dancing crowd.
Has a client’s impression of you as a lawyer ever changed when they find out you’re a regular on the concert scene in Vancouver?
If anyone’s impression of me is bad, they tend to keep that to themselves, or just stop calling, so I am blissfully unaware of negative reactions. Generally though, I would say people like a few dimensions and aren’t threatened by the phone booth into which I must enter to transform myself.
The Vancouver Bar associates me with music so that’s good. I struggled a bit with people in the music world trusting that I wasn’t with “the man”, or “the system” but even they have come around.
How do you balance practice and performances while maintaining a robust legal career and other personal obligations? Any specific tips or tricks that law students could try to use?
Try to not rehearse until 3 am if you need to be in the Court of Appeal in the morning, swim once a day, and resist drawing too much on the dark side for material.
Nerves: are they worse when performing in front of a musical audience or a legal audience?
The nerves are way worse in front of a musical audience. I always think that 95% of the people in any audience think they can do what you are doing, and until you’re good enough to prove them wrong, you’re not going to be entertaining to them. The onus of proof is much easier to discharge with lawyers in the audience.
All photography thanks to: