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Canoe Canoe: New band featuring a familiar face

Novel things oftentimes come with uncertainty, so it’s nice when a new band features a familiar face. The Chicago-based Canoe Canoe have only been around since the summer, but we should take comfort in the familiarity of at least one member. The band’s keyboardist, Otto Stuparitz, studied music at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and played with former locals Santah. Now, he is coming back to Champaign with new bandmates and new music.

After spending five years in Urbana, Stuparitz moved to Chicago two years ago where he reconnected with a friend from high school, Tony Jones. The duo soon started playing music together, eventually writing songs and recording the Black Sheep EP, available for listening on the Canoe Canoe’s bandcamp page. The EP features only Jones and Stuparitz, who soon realized that in order to play their music in front of an audience, they needed to find additional members. In no time, the two friends found John Mahoney, who now plays bass for the band, and eventually a drummer in Jordan Thomas.

Canoe Canoe: “just swim”

[[mp3 canoe_canoe_just_swim]]

Once the lineup became finalized, the band started writing songs together, usually in practice, which happens once or twice a week. The songwriting process, described by Stuparitz comes very naturally:

Somebody comes up with something, and if we like that, then we repeat it and try to make it sound like a song. Most of the songs don’t have full lyrics because they’re pretty fresh. It’ll be nice when we get the record out because then we’ll have full structured songs… A lot of the songs will end with a big chorus that repeats and then we just have to rock n roll ending it.

The band is currently working on their first record as a quartet, and fans should expect its release in late April or May. Although they have only recently started touring, Canoe Canoe are already getting serious stage time in. The guys recently opened up a show at the Metro in Chicago, playing for an audience of roughly 1,000 concertgoers. Unsurprisingly, Stuparitz said it was “a dream to play there.” The band may also have another exciting opportunity coming up, as a show at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, constantly voted Best Venue by numerous reader polls, might appear under their tour dates sometime in April. In the coming months, the guys are looking forward to more shows, hoping to play Chicagoland at least once a month and come down to Champaign-Urbana once every two or three months.

When asked about the band’s live show, Stuparitz described it as high energy:

A little bit crazy. We usually make a setlist and then deviate from it. We try to play a new song every show… I play keyboard in the band, so I make a lot of atmospheric noises to bridge the gaps between everything, and Tony, the guitarist, has a real punk quality to him. We’re playing poppy-ish music, rock and roll really, but he comes from a punk background, so he just starts railing on something. Basically, all of our songs start strong and tend to be big messes that we clean up at the end. We try to keep it lively. I’m stuck at the keyboard, but the guitarist will jump on the drums, jump in the crowd if he can.

“I’m just really excited to come back down to Champaign,” said Stuparitz. “Hopefully, everyone comes up and sees a new band. I’m excited to come down and enjoy the comforts of where I started playing live music.” Excited is a good word for all involved, as Canoe Canoe are already proving themselves a promising quartet.

It’s always nice to be surrounded by familiar faces. Whether it’s Stuparitz who will take comfort in being surrounded by his C-U friends, or the fans who have come to know and love him through his work with Santah.


Canoe Canoe is playing at the Cowboy Monkey on Saturday, March 9, performing with local acts Love Toy and Sunny Stubble. Tickets are $5 and the show starts at 9:30 p.m. 

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