PRESCOTT - It was back when he was in elementary school that Cody Hache first took a seat behind a drum kit, but there's no way he could have known then how important that first bash with the drumsticks would prove to be.
Hache is now the full-time drummer for Kitchener-based alt-rock band Flowers for Daniel, but his interest in the instrument was first piqued when in grade four or five he visited a friend's house and found his classmate had a drum kit. On giving it a whirl, Hache discovered that pounding on the tubs wasn't without interest, though pounding away was really all he was doing at the time.
"I jumped on a few kits, but I never really knew what I was doing," he says.
He didn't take up the instrument right away, though. It would be several more years before the former Prescott resident would turn his attention back to music and some time after that before he set himself to doing it professionally.
In the meantime, Hache made a name for himself as a standout athlete, and it was sports, not music, that would come to occupy most of his time and attention. As a youngster, Hache spent most of his time on either the ice or the court, playing hockey and basketball, and when he got to high school, he also added volleyball to the mix. It proved too much, though, and he eventually chose to jettison hockey to focus more on basketball.
"It was probably for the best, too," he remembers. "Hockey was getting pretty rough by that point."
He played basketball and volleyball in both grade nine and ten for the Giants at South Grenville District High School, and he counts himself lucky to have been part of some particularly dominant teams. The volleyball team was narrowly edged out of a trip to EOSSA by an underdog team from St. Mary's in Brockville, while the grade 10 basketball team won EOSSA. Hache credits the strong coaching at SGDHS for the strength of those teams, and remembers one coach with particular fondness.
"John Doran was fantastic," he says. "He was very influential in my basketball development."
It was also in grade 10 that Hache's interest in music began to stir once again. He mentioned to his parents that he might be interested in trying his hand at the drums. With no sound-proof rooms in the Hache household, his parents initially tried to redirect their son to a less concussive instrument, but they eventually recognized his interest was genuine and got him his first kit.
"I have such a supportive family and friends," says Hache. "They definitely made me feel like I could take any path that I wanted to and just run with it. I'm pretty fortunate."
Still, though, Hache wasn't quite ready to dedicate himself entirely to music or to the drums. Sports remained his focus, basketball in particular, and they remained his focus even after the family picked up and moved to Barrie, where Hache set about proving himself to new coaches and new teammates. Though he was then hundreds of kilometres away, Hache still got some help from his coach at South Grenville. Maybe a bit too much help.
"It was a bit tough showing up in Barrie," remembers Hache with a laugh. "My coach had reached out to them in advance to let them know, and I think he hyped me up a little bit too much. They were expecting some 6'4" Division I player, and then I show up."
It wasn't long, though, before Hache was the senior team's starting point guard, in both grade 11 and 12, and a big part of a dominant Barrie team that won OFSAA in both of those years.
"We had a really good group of guys and good coaches," says Hache. "It was a lot of fun."
Despite his winning ways, however, it was by this time beginning to dawn on Hache that a future in sports might be less likely than a future in music. His career on the drums, however, was not taking off the same way his athletic career had. He hadn't really come to grips with the amount of time he'd have to log behind the kit to actually get good at it, and he grew frustrated that he had yet to produce anything that might have resembled music.
The family then moved back to Prescott, where Hache's parents still live, and though he had enough credits to graduate, he came back to SGDHS to play basketball.
"We had a really good group of guys on the team that year," he remembers.
The transition from sports to music was now well along, but it was shortly before the basketball season started that the transition was made complete. The Giants were playing in a pre-season tournament, and Hache was going in for a routine layup. Something in his knee gave way, and as a result sports would quickly give way to music as the overriding influence in Hache's life.
"It worked out. Music started to take more of a front row seat at that point," he says.
Not that he'd ever entirely give up sports. He would continue to play pickup when he could and in men's leagues, but Hache found he was getting better and better at the drums. He enrolled at Laurier University to major in history with the intention of earning his BA and then following in his older sister's footsteps and going to teacher's college.
Back in Prescott in the summers, Hache and some friends formed a band called King Me, and they spent the warm weather months playing where they could around town. After that band broke up, Hache formed another one in Kitchener called Beech Street, and again gained invaluable experience playing throughout the Tri-Cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.
Upon graduating in 2013, Hache realized he wasn't quite ready for teacher's college, so he took a few years off from school, found a job and in his spare time dedicated himself to music. Luckily, at about the time Beech Street dissolved, so too did a band called The Royal Streets, whose lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, Algernon Friolet, then began casting about for a new group.
Hache had played with Friolet a few times in the past, so he was soon invited to join the new band, as were cellist Jesse Wiseman and bassist Jay Hogle, and in 2016, Flowers for Daniel made its debut on the Tri-Cities music scene, where a great many top-notch bands play regularly at a bounty of fantastic venues in and around the three cities.
"There's a pretty awesome scene down here," says Hache, who now makes his home in Cambridge.
Flowers for Daniel plays almost exclusively original material and in the years since its founding, both the band's reputation and its following have grown considerably, and the group earns more fans with every live appearance. Of course, many people are left wondering about the name and what it means. It's a play on a famed work of literature with which the band's front man shares his name. Friolet just replaced his first name with his middle name in the title of the acclaimed short story Flowers for Algernon, and he had the name of his new band.
Hache's bandmates all have full-time jobs, and Hache remarks at how nice a balance the band has struck between work and music. Hache had been working full-time, too, up until last fall, when he finally thought it time to finish his schooling and enroll in teacher's college. It also occurred to him that being a teacher might actually have some perks when it comes to his music career.
"I think it will work out quite well with the band, having summer's off," he says.
Hache has already done some teaching, giving drumming lessons to aspiring young percussionists at a local music school in Cambridge. The pandemic, of course, put an end to the classes, but when things open up again, Hache is looking forward to once again passing along what he has learned over the years.
"It was a really awesome experience to try to give those kids little tidbits and shortcuts here and there to try to help them," he says.
Hache never did take lessons. He is entirely self-taught, learning his craft from watching videos and trying his best to emulate some of the best in the business. He learned as much as he could from everyone he saw, and as such, his style of drumming doesn't much resemble anyone else's, though there is no doubt one drummer has been a particularly big influence on him - the Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins.
"To me, he's just the epitome of what a rock drummer should be," says Hache.
While Flowers for Daniel is best classified as an alt-rock group, the label belies a much more nuanced repertoire.
"It's a funny thing to try to classify music," says Hache.
Some of the band members come from a more folk and indie tradition while the others are more influenced by rock and pop. Hache is more the latter, counting among his favourite artists The Tragically Hip and AC/DC. It's also true that the band's sound has evolved, as those varying influences have meshed and morphed over the last few years.
"We're a rock band. More so now than even when we first got together," says Hache.
It's not just the band's music that's grown, though. The band has grown, too. While Flowers for Daniel started out as a foursome, the recent addition of guitarist and vocalist Eric Stirtzinger has not only made the band a five-piece, but a much better one.
"Having him in the band really just brought us to another level," says Hache.
Stirtzinger's influence is readily evident on the band's upcoming EP release. Flowers for Daniel had actually been planning a big summer of live performances all around Ontario and into Quebec, but the pandemic put a hold on those plans. In the meantime, the group decided to work on Slide, Baby.
The four-song EP is largely finished and is made up entirely of original compositions. It's being mixed by the engineers right now in preparation for a release in the coming weeks, and Hache thinks the album showcases the new and more sophisticated direction the band is beginning to take.
"I think it's a pretty good representation of where the band is right now," he says. "Everyone is really excited with how it's turned out."
The band had actually completed about a dozen original songs and toyed with the idea of releasing a full-length album, but then decided to issue the singles in batches, which they thought might make it easier to match up songs that best go together. The band is also looking ahead to the release of its next EP and hopes that by that time they'll be able to support the release with some live shows. Though they have all enjoyed their time in the studio in recent months, the band is to a man looking very much forward to getting back out in front of a crowd.
Before the pandemic, Flowers for Daniel had been doing quite a few live concerts. The band plays regularly around the Tri-Cities and goes to Toronto quite a bit, too, as well as London and Guelph. The group has also played in Ottawa several times, and the band members count some of their shows in Montreal as among their favourites. They have particularly enjoyed playing alongside Montreal's Po Lazarus. Sharing a bill with a big local name is always welcome, as it generally means a big audience, and Po Lazarus never fails to draw a crowd when it performs in Montreal.
"A lot of the draws depend on the local act you're playing with, and we've been pretty fortunate in linking up with some really great bands that have welcomed us and set up a great show," says Hache.
This is no less true in the band's hometown, where Hache says it's always a special thing to play live shows, and the band has again been lucky enough to make the acquaintance of and play alongside many great bands from the Tri-City region.
"Any time we have a hometown Kitchener show, it's always a blast and usually a pretty full house."
Flowers for Daniel also took its music a little farther afield back in 2017 when the band embarked on its first tour of the East Coast. Playing 12 shows in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI over the course of two-and-a-half weeks, Flowers for Daniel no doubt gained many new fans.
Their live shows consist almost entirely of original music, though the band will throw in a cover now and again, often with a unique alt-rock spin. Friolet has a unique, raspy voice, so it can be a kick when the band covers a song performed originally by a more velvety-voiced singer.
"It flips it immediately on its head," says Hache.
Writing all the songs on the band's set lists, and track lists, is very much a collaborative effort, though it often starts with Friolet. He'll come in with a riff or a theme or a rhythm, and then he and Hache will start working on the percussion parts. Wiseman, Hogle and Stirtzinger then have to compose their parts, and the band slowly works all the parts together into a catchy whole.
Hache says this process is sometimes quite easy and other times very difficult, but he says that when he and his bandmates get together, either on stage or in studio, it brings out the full potential in all five musicians and helps propel Flowers for Daniel forward to better, more mature and ever more creative music.
The easiest way to find the band's music is on Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon, where fans will be able to find Slide, Baby when it is released, and when the pandemic ends and the band begins booking shows again, the most convenient way to keep track of their comings and goings is by checking out Flowers for Daniel on Instagram.