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Premier pro

Local dream-pop band Saskatchewan on their storied past, their humble present and their headline-making heritage

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Thomas Walter Scott became the first premier of Saskatchewan by dividing the Northwest Territories of Canada into two autonomous provinces and judiciously divvying up both natural and governmental resources. A little more than a century later, Chandler Strang became the premier of dream-pop outfit Saskatchewan by flipping to a page in an atlas and saying, “That’s the one.”

Actually, it’s slightly more complicated than that: The band is, like its namesake, half of a formerly larger entity, and like the Northwest Territories became Saskatchewan and Alberta, former indie-folk darlings An Introduction to Sunshine splintered into Strang’s project and the similarly ethereal Day Joy.

“Intro played together so long for the same people and in the same places, not really progressing,” Strang says as he stares into his Turkish Gold outside Bar-BQ-Bar a few hours before playing a free show there. He spends his weekends emailing mp3s of the band’s covers of the Weeknd to music blogs – or any blogs, really – with a fair amount of success. But this is his first face-to-face interview, and whether it’s the show or the press that’s on his mind, he’s feeling fidgety, adjusting his oversized glasses and pulling down his beanie for warmth, even though temperatures are only in the mid-60s.

Perhaps it’s because his heritage, for better or worse, still precedes him. Strang’s father, Steven, was listed by Time magazine in 2005 as “one of the nation’s most influential evangelicals,” and the Strang family’s Lake Mary-based religious company, Charisma Media (for whom Chandler is an accountant), is everywhere these days. They’ve seen numerous self-published books land on the New York Times best-sellers list and Steven is on the board of directors of the Christian broadcast company currently attempting to purchase local PBS station WMFE-TV. Chandler’s mother is Charisma’s CFO and his brother, Cameron, is the founder of the Christian-focused Relevant Media Group, whose namesake magazine boasts more than 5 million page views per month. It gets weirder.

Former An Introduction to Sunshine bassist David Plakon followed Strang to his new group and did the production for Saskatchewan’s first 7-inch release at his North Avenue Studios in Orange City near DeLand. Plakon is the son of state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who made headlines recently for his efforts to erase the Florida Climate Protection Act and ban Internet cafés, and last month he appeared on The Daily Show to defend his position that people on welfare should submit to state-mandated drug testing. (Plakon was asked to pee in a cup by correspondent Aasif Mandvi. He refused.)

While their families cast a large shadow, the band is eager to show that they’re their own separate entity.

“It’s a bond,” says David Plakon, who, along with businessman Mark Shepard, helped put the DeLand music scene on the map, working with local talent like Kaleigh Baker and Thomas Wynn & the Believers. “Our families have a long history together. I’ve known Chandler longer than pretty much anyone else. We don’t really talk much politics or religion. I don’t think there’s any conscious effort to avoid it, but I guess we’ve had our share of it growing up.”

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