SINGLE REVIEW: FAMILY VAN by cleopatrick

They just never fucking miss, do they? FAMILY VAN is the latest single from Toronto duo cleopatrick - a long awaited release for the more devoted fans amongst us, who will have heard this track kick the fuck off at any of the live shows (a distant memory, we know. Soon).

cleopatrick by Kurtis Watson

Following GOOD GRIEF and THE DRAKE was never going to be an easy feat, but Luke and Ian make outperforming themselves look effortless in this blinding eruption of beautiful, punchy noise. Confidently demonstrating their appetite for delectable hip-hop arrangements, FAMILY VAN is a furiously cut-throat, fuzz-laden declaration of frustration that goes straight for the jugular - and doesn't miss.


Opening with Luke's snarling and militantly syncopated vocals, the track builds with a simple, chilling riff that'll have you on edge - perfectly juxtaposing the onslaught of incisively aggressive lyrics. You'd be forgiven for thinking this track was an angsty hip-hop belter, but only until the chorus kicks in - there's no mistaking it - this is the purest form of rock music. The bridge is distorted, guitar-based crack, and just one listen won't be enough to satisfy the craving. cleopatrick have perfected the art of creating absolutely filthy noise, and FAMILY VAN might just be their biggest triumph yet.


“I wrote FAMILY VAN after a band ripped one of our songs off," explains Luke. "They were bigger than us and we felt powerless. FAMILY VAN was born out of frustration. It’s an exercise in anger, and a conscious acknowledgement of the humble beginnings, independence, and DIY mentality that makes our band what we are. We've spent the last 4 years touring the world in Ian’s beat up high school mini van, with a janky trailer strapped to the back, some childhood sleeping bags, and a handful of songs we wrote in my basement. This family van has been a vessel for our art, a symbol of our honesty, and an ode to all the young guitar bands that are trying to do something real. There’s always going to be phonies out there. There’s always going to be imposters, and fakers, and old dudes with bad intentions. But if you stay real — I promise it’s just a matter of time before they end up unmasked and unknown, somewhere in your rear view mirror.”


The release of the track comes alongside its own video game, complete with an 8-bit soundtrack created by the band themselves. The game sees cleopatrick wake up in their hometown of Cobourg, late for a headline show in Toronto. The player then has to drive the duo’s trusty van Vannah Montana to get to the gig on time, dodging various obstacles and picking up Jake and Sanjay (of sanjake fame) along the way.


If it wasn't obvious already, these boys know how to treat their fans. Not only did we get a brand new single to wrap our ears around, but also the incredible news that cleopatrick's debut album, BUMMER, will be released on the 4th of June. Best friends since the age of four, Luke Gruntz (guitar/vocals) and Ian Fraser's (drums) first LP BUMMER sees the culmination of their two-decade friendship funnelled directly into a blistering record that will blow the fucking doors off the rock genre as we know it. Fuelled by the ethos of the New Rock Mafia - a collective of bands completed by Ready the Prince and ZIG MENTALITY, united in striving for a more inclusive, authentic space in rock music - BUMMER oozes with an unprecedented sonic ambition for honest, unfiltered ferocity. This is a record designed to be played hard and loud.


“We want our music to feel as big as hip-hop does in the club - big subs and loud drums and vocals right upfront. But lyrically, we want to sing songs that everyone in the crowd feels comfortable singing along to. There’s a formula to rock music where people sing about drugs and alcohol and sex and it’s so fucking phony; it makes us so angry that kids who want to hear guitar music and get something from it and have a favourite band have to settle for that, and listen to these dudes lying to them,” says Luke. “It’s so gross to me and completely the opposite of how this genre started.”


cleopatrick’s debut is a time-capsule of a record, a lament to their small town beginnings - including previous single THE DRAKE which was written about a traumatic gig where their high school bullies turned up and started punching people in the mosh pit. With its feet firmly planted in hometown nostalgia, the album still reaches for something more, something better, outside of Ontario provincial borders. At its heart, it’s an album about two friends, who’ve stuck by each other since kindergarten, as evidenced by the album's heart-warming cover images: pictures of when Luke and Ian accidentally showed up to school in matching jumpers taken by the pair’s teacher. It's all just so fucking wholesome.

BUMMER album artwork

“This album is about growing up. It's about being alone. It’s about getting ripped off. It’s about finding a voice you didn't know you had. It's about holding on to the innocence and purity in your world. It’s about trying to be a man. It’s about getting pushed around. It’s a rock album made by some kids in a basement with no old dudes around. It’s bass and drums and lyrics—carefully designed to catalyse mosh pits and cauterise doubters. We worked nonstop to find this sound. Hunching over laptops and Les Pauls alike. Running full tracks through shoe-bruised fuzz pedals and cigarette-box speakers while our best friends played Skate 3 in the next room. We were on a mission; searching for the honesty, power, and aggression that’s missing from today's guitar music. We pushed with everything we had. Breaking boundaries, spinning knobs, and blowing speakers until we found it, and we did find it. We made some real shit. We made a rock album for kids like us—kids that understand the primal-cry of an electric guitars fuzz-fucked-feedback, just as well as they comprehend the euphoria stored within a 21st century sub-bass chorus drop."


At just 23 years old, cleopatrick have proved themselves to be a genuine underground global sensation. Picked as Amazon Music’s Ones To Watch in 2021, the band have amassed nearly 100 million streams alongside multiple sell-out tours across Europe, which included an immediately sold-out show at London’s Electrowerkz and several shows supporting Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes in 2020, including a rammed Ally Pally. Along the way they’ve garnered high-profile fans across the board including The Guardian, MTV, and Kerrang, as well as BBC Radio 1 plays from Annie Mac, Jack Saunders and Daniel P Carter. Impressed? You should be.


This is only the beginning for cleopatrick, so we hope all you rock dummies will hop aboard Vannah Montana and join us for the ride of your fucking life.


2021 BUMMER Tour - get your tickets here!

24th November - Tunbridge Wells Forum, Tunbridge Wells

25th November - Islington Assembly Hall, London

26th November - O2 Institute, Birmingham

27th November - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham


Pre-order Bummer here

Stream Family Van on Spotify and Apple Music


Review by Courtney Myers

Photography by Kurtis Watson

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