Written and content by: Kara Bradimore
Alukah, pronounced Ah-lick-ah, not Aloo-kah, Akoola or Akahajhasdjh is a Death Metal band from Maryland USA. Consisting of RJ Bunda on Vocals, Chris Meyers on Bass Guitar, Dante Dalton on Rhythm Guitar, David Demarr on Lead Guitar and Danny Bollwahn on Drums, Alukah is taking over the metal scene one venue at a time.
Recently Alukah joined Soulfly, Kataklysm and Incite for the Ritual Tour that kicked off in Toronto, Ontario on February 12th and ended on the 19th of February for them. Having personally met Alukah on their first run through Canada summer of 2018, I had become an instant friend, fan and kept in touch. So when I was invited to tag along for a few days of exclusive all-access fun with these great people, I definitely wasn't going to pass up the opportunity.
While some budding bands may take quickly to ego-tripping the moment they land a large tour, Alukah is full of humble members who set high professional standards for themselves and follow through. Opening for bands like Incite, Kataklysm, and Soulfly doesn't mean fame, partying and fortune to them, (but that is a bonus,) it means that years of hard work has paid off. They watch the professionalism and admire the talents from bands who have been around longer than they have and it inspires them to work harder, absorbing as much knowledge along the way as they can. Alukah is constantly and consistently growing as a band and as individual musicians.
Although the Ritual Tour itself didn't start until February 12th, the guys of Alukah slid their way into Ontario (with no winter tires,) for a few days prior. When I asked why they chose to tour through Ontario in the dead of winter, their reasoning was because they thought that "it would be smart to have shows leading up to Toronto" so that they "didn’t have to drive as far in one trip from Maryland." However, I'm pretty sure they did it so that they had an excuse to fill themselves full of Poutine. It's clearly a Canadian delicacy for our "foreign" friends and believe me, we had our share. Shout out to Smoke's Poutinerie; thanks for the food babies, fam.
So when February 10th finally rolled around, I drove up to Guelph Ontario to meet the guys at DSTRCT. When I arrived, David was outside to give me a hug, move my things over into the band van and fill me in on what the three-day plan was. First Dstrct in Guelph, then Warehouse in St. Catherine's, both nights with Toronto band, Pillars of Autumn. Leading to the third day, which would be their final day in Canada and the opening night of the Ritual Tour at The Mod Club in Toronto.
The show itself that night was put on well. Dstrct always knows how to deliver a great night out and the bands who played were all talented in their own unique styling. But by the time Alukah was set to perform, the majority of the crowd had taken off with the first two local bands leaving only the guys themselves, Pillars of Autumn, and a small handful of hard fans behind. That didn't seem to stop Alukah though because they played their set as if they were playing to a stadium full of people. Energy and confidence never wavering, they even managed a small pit from the few who stayed behind. So although it may have been a little disheartening to witness that sudden decline in local support knowing how far these guys had travelled to play in Guelph, it was also so wholesome to watch them kill it anyways. Dear locals, you missed out.
That night we were lucky enough to stay with a couple mutual friends, who absolutely provided all the warmth, kindness and comfort to save us from the negative temperatures. Thank you again for everything Alex and Liam, you guys are the real MVPs.
On February 11th, we woke up to a fresh coat of snow on the ground that made travelling to Warehouse in St. Catherine's a little more nerve-wracking without winter tires, so we packed up shortly after noon and left to make good time.
During the ride, I noticed that Alukah listens to some pretty interesting music on the road. I asked what some personal favourites were, "We listen to everything. Sometimes we listen to country, sometimes Rj decides to put on Britney Spears, sometimes we listen to metal, and sometimes we sing each other to sleep to old classics." I personally have yet to witness the loving lullaby moments, but I promise I'll get photos if it ever happens around me.
We arrived at Warehouse early and had time to walk around. Spending time with Alukah, I’ve noticed that they really like to get out and explore the areas they visit, even the tiny towns and small shops. I asked what some of their favourite places were to check out and the guys suggested, "Cool mom and pop stores are really neat. We usually go for old record stores, the best places to eat, music stores, and on our recent stop in St Catherine’s, a comic book store!" Shout out to Mostly Comics.
Time flew by and soon enough the doors opened for a fantastic evening, where Alukah put on a wild set once again. They even convinced some people there to come out to the show the following night in Toronto too! The entire night proved that Warehouse is absolutely St. Catherine's number one hub for live music and has some of the best local support I've seen in a while.
Leaving the venue, the guys knew they had to find a place to stay. Despite having a new Tour van, the Canadian Winter Storm Warning was in effect and it was too dangerous to stay out in the cold. After a long drive and being turned down by a nasty hotel in Toronto, we drove for a while and found another nicer hotel at 3am. A few celebratory drinks were had in that crammed room, as were many laughs before lights went out and everyone headed to sleep after the sun had already risen.
The morning of February 12th, nobody was looking forward to that early 11am check-out. Sleep had been very limited the previous days and for the guys in Alukah, their Tour was technically just beginning. Aside from the lack of proper sleep, the winter storm had hit hard overnight and everything was completely covered in a sheet of ice. There was confusion at first whether the Toronto show would be cancelled or go on, but ultimately the Canadians spoke up and the doors were still going to open at the same time. After grabbing coffee and pep talking the guys into it being a safe drive "as soon as we hit the highway," (boy was I ever wrong,) we started our long journey to The Mod Club in Toronto Ontario.
We were only 27km/17mi from our destination, but the roads were so bad that it took us nearly three hours to travel. At one point, the van got stuck on a curved incline because of the snow and ice build up. Everyone jumped out of the van, trying to clear the road around the tires with our frozen feet to get the van to budge just a few inches; it must have been a site for people driving by, that's for sure. Thankfully a man in a tow truck came to rescue, saving the day and helped pull the van to level ground again. Not all heroes wear capes, some drive tow trucks in the freezing rain.
Despite the delays of the morning and mother nature trying to ruin things, the Alukah van pulled up to the club and started load in with the help of stage hands. Kevin the merch guy had everything looking spicy at the table and soon people were filling up the venue. The turnout was surprising, I don't think anyone really anticipated that amount of people because of how bad the weather was, but it was impressive from the get-go. Alukah even mentioned that The Mod Club has been the sickest Canadian venue they've played at so far. They loved the balconies and overall theatre vibe, stating that the sound, lighting, and staff were awesome. Also that they liked how spacious the stage was.
Alukah put on a flawless performance that night. Even with a shorter set that evening, they gave their all on stage and gained fans of all ages; the guys were even asked for their autographs. They impressed me so much with everything they did. I had seen the little moments of stress and lack of sleep, I had overheard the family phone calls home, and the side dirty jokes to boot, but regardless of what was going on, every single one of these guys maintained a professional and upbeat attitude. They met stressful situations with calm logic, kindness and light hearts.
Now that they've seen what Ontario is capable of in February, I asked the guys what would be their number one tip for bands to survive a Canadian winter tour? Their answer was simple and truthful, "Make friends everywhere. We are blessed to have wonderful friends that will let us stay out of the cold. Other than that... bring blankets and keep the van running if you can’t afford hotels!"
As for teasers moving forward... well, Alukah likes to keep their secrets. They did share that they're currently writing a new album and they've just recently announced another big tour coming up this May / June with Waking the Cadaver, Gorgasm, Kraanium, and Cognitive, which Screams Media will be covering too. "We have so many other things planned that we can’t talk about just yet, but you’ll be seeing a lot of us soon. Poutine is awesome. Canada is awesome. Driving a van with a trailer sucks in the snow haha. Thank you to all of the people that support us and care for us as well as the people that we work with! We love you all and can’t wait to be back. Shout out to Liam of Nomadic Arts for taking care of us while we were up there and making sure we had places to stay. Love you bro! "
I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and all access experience with Alukah. If you have the chance to check them out in the future, I would definitely suggest it. They are doom, death, spice and everything nice. 10/10 do recommend.
View all the photos of Alukah here and watch live footage from the three shows below!