The roots of Guardsman can be traced back to a basement in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where brothers Steve and Rob Harwood spent their middle- and high-school years honing their chops by jamming out on everything from Megadeth to the Gin Blossoms and Rush to Johnny Cash. After years of informal collaboration under the name “Acta Vira,” the brothers recorded a five-song EP in 2015 before breaking away from the comfort of hometown Grand Rapids and regrouping in Chicago under their new name, Guardsman.
Arriving in a new city with nothing but their instruments and a self-produced EP, the duo set to work on the formidable task of breaking into the Windy City’s thriving metal community. “We didn’t have much success at first,” says Rob, “We couldn’t find a full band to play with so we’d just go to open mics and play acoustic stuff. Next thing we knew we were booking our first gigs in Chicago as an acoustic folk duo playing Irish bars.”
After a number of unsuccessful auditions, the pair eventually teamed up with guitarist Leo Garcia and officially released their five-song demo as The Awakening EP in September 2016. With the addition of bassist Carlos Valencia shortly after, Guardsman was finally ready to bring The Awakening EP to the stage with a handful of shows in late 2016, quickly establishing a reputation for tight, energetic live shows and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from fans.
The Awakening EP is available as a free/name-your-price download on guardsman.bandcamp.com. The band is currently playing shows throughout the Chicago area in support of The Awakening EP, and has already begun work on material for a full-length follow-up.