Band to Watch: Hind Legs by V. Rachel Weldon

I met Hind Legs at Grooves Record Shop in London; vocalist Halloway Jones, batting her tired eyes behind brown, thick-rimmed glasses and a black fringe, and drummer Ben Deinstadt, with a red velvet fez perched on top of a floppy haircut, stumbled in after driving from Thornhill. Arriving at their gig to learn there was no drum kit or bass amp available for their performance, Jones, Deinstadt and bassist Brent Braaten (who joined us in a Tin-Tin t-shirt and square-rimmed black frames) expressed no real annoyance. With cool resolve, they simply split up to sort it out, a few of us going to borrow a kit, the other two going to rent an amp.

Hind Legs had booked their small tour only about a month before, around the same time Braaten joined the former two-piece, and in the meantime have been featured on the cover of The Coast’s New Music 2011 issue and shared a stage with the Pack A.D at Halifax’ The Seahorse. Forming only about six months ago, (or maybe it was nine—the actual conception of Hind Legs is still contested among Jones and Deinstadt), the young band started out playing mostly covers of The Undertones and The White Stripes at parties, their first show being at Jones’ boyfriend’s Halloween party. “We only had two real songs,” Jones recalls of their earliest days. They started playing “real shows” in December starting with an opening slot at Gus’ Pub for The Bad Bad Bad, who didn’t even show up for the gig. “It was in the middle of a snowstorm!” Jones explains. “We thought no one was going to come out, but then all these people showed up.”

“We’ve played at some sketchy punk houses a bunch of times,” Deinstadt adds. “Hally punched a guy out once. It was crazy! ... Yeah, he grabbed my mic and was like ‘I hate women!’ So I punched him. And then he got beat up by a bunch of tiny lesbians. It was great!” she laughs.

“They threw him down a set of stairs!" responds Deinstadt, who Jones would call “the sensitive one” in the group. "I felt kind of bad for him. He was just a stupid guy.”

The group’s take-it-all garage rock is dirty and sexy, wailing leather-clad black and blues, consistently drawing a following of Halifax’ art punks and student population. Jones’ vocals are part Patti Smith, part a female version of Black Key’s frontman Dan Auerbach, breaking hearts and taking no prisoners, punching out the blues with a punk rock guitar scrawl. Their live show will give you a black eye, but their easygoing manner and goofy banter will deepen your dimples. “This one’s my dad’s favourite song,” Jones’ announces before launching into ‘Get Some’ from their debut release Pleasure Cave.

The six-track album is available at the group’s Band Camp, but in place of hard copy albums, which are on their way to being produced, the group sells zines at their merch stand. Each page features a hand-drawn picture or comic that illustrates the songs on Pleasure Cave, credited to Jones herself and friends from the NSCAD Fine Arts program, where she’s a student. On the back of the booklet is a code which allows fans to download the entire album for free.

Continuing through their setlist, Jones slides into "The Pigeon Song", a slower, more bluesy tune. “And this one’s my mom’s favourite.” She and her mother, an immigrant from Zimbabwe where Jones spent time as a child, share the same (uncommon) favourite animal. “When I was a kid she actually used to call me ‘pigeon’” Jones smiles. Her affinity for the plucky city birds inspired the cover photo for the new music issue of The Coast. Jones smiles charmingly at the camera seated on a park bench in between Braaten and Deinstadt, who throw their hands up in the air and yell to scare a group of pigeons flying towards the camera. “We spent so much money on bread!” Deinstadt remembers of the shoot. “There was a hot dog vendor there selling us buns for a buck a piece.”

They called it “the parents tour”. In Montreal, the group stayed with their friend and “roadie” Lauren Bell’s parents, with Deinstadt’s in Ottawa, and in Toronto with Jones’. (Had they made it as far West as Regina, where Braaten hails from, they likely would have stayed with his too). While hopping from parents’ house to house in suburbs across Eastern Canada is not exactly “rock and roll” by most standards, it does have its perks. “We’ve been eating really well,” Deinstadt grins. With home-cooked meals and hard-rocking tunes fuelling them, Hind Legs finished up their tour at Toronto’s Rancho Relaxo with Falcon Punch last month. These days, the group moves live performances to the backburner while Deinstadt travels Western Canada, resting deservedly on their hind legs for the remainder of the summer before their drummer returns to Halifax in the Fall to resume classes at Dalhousie University, and to break the group’s brief fast. You’ve been warned: don’t let Hind Legs pass you by.

Photo courtesy of the band.

V. Rachel Weldon is an arts journalist and English lit student currently traveling the west coast. You can read her all of her posts here, or email her at


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