Toy Zebra returns to Nanaimo for three shows.

Cover band Toy Zebra return to Vancouver Island for three shows beginning on Boxing Day.

Toy Zebra will be performing at the Queens for three nights beginning on Thursday (Dec. 26). “[Nanaimo] is pretty much our favourite place to play,” guitarist Cam Wilkison said. “It’s more intimate than the stuff we do in Vancouver. We also got lots of family and friends out here so it’s kind of like a mini vacation for us.” Toy Zebra originally began under the name Crimson Reign in 2006. They decided to change names in 2011 and have since been performing mainly as a cover band. “We’ve committed our weekends to doing just the cover thing because it keeps us playing and it keeps our chops up,” Wilkison said. “We work on originals during the week but a lot of the clubs and places we play they just want music that people are going to dance to.”Wilkison, along with his brother and fellow bandmate Tanner, became involved in music because of their grandfather. “When we were young he put a guitar in my hand and a bass in his (Tanner) hands and hoped something would happen,” Wilkison said. “And it did.” The brothers, along with drummer Callum Jackman cover everything from Muse, The Killers, Billy Idol, as well as music from the 1970s and ’60s. Wilkison said they try not to put their own spin or flavour on their covers. “We were pretty much raised to do songs as they are,” he said. “When you play stuff in front of people and you play it differently they will say something sounds weird and they won’t be able to tell you what it is but they’ll be able to hear it.”Although Toy Zebra is mainly a cover band, they have put out their own original work including a three-song EP. “It’s kind of a modern alternative rock with lots of vocal harmonizes,” Wilkison said of their original work. “We were raised basically singing Beatles songs … lots of heavy vocals.”Occasionally Toy Zebra will sneak in an original song into their cover set.“Sometimes we throw in our own stuff but we won’t say it is original,” he said. “Some people will say they think they know the song … anytime we say it’s our song it clears the floor so we don’t say anything.” The band is already booked solid until next December with shows in Maple Ridge, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, and Nanaimo. “A lot of the time we don’t know where we are playing until, like, two days before,” Wilkison laughed.That’s no longer the case for 2014 and Wilkison explained that all the travel between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island can be tiresome. “It is kind of exhausting,” he said. “We all love doing it but it does get exhausting for sure. Especially when we were working mornings after the night of playing.” Toy Zebra are looking forward to working on and releasing new material in 2014. “That’s definitely our goal,” Wilkison said. “Probably not a full album but another EP. Probably five songs but we haven’t really captured our sound just yet. We are still experimenting and playing with ideas and trying to see what we can kind of capture.”