Strumbellas latest effort not out of step 0
Toronto's alt-country act The Strumbellas. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
Toronto alt-country act The Strumbellas have proved their debut album was no fluke with a strong follow-up in the recently released We Still Move on Dance Floors. Currently on a western swing and appearing at the Biltmore Cabaret Tuesday night, Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with lead singer Simon Ward.
24: There seems to be many number of ways people describe your sound — how do you describe it?
SW: I've always liked 'indie country' or 'folk pop grass.’ I actually have more fun hearing other people describe our music than thinking of it myself. I'm up for anything.
24: What are some of the group’s musical inspirations?
SW: I think for this new record it was artists like Father John Misty and Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeroes. We like throwback type of artists who touch on classic genres but add a real nice twist to it. We are very inspired by artists who manage to create catchy riffs, have weird and obscure lyrics, and look like vagabonds all at once.
24: How much time went into the naming of the group and how did you arrive at it?
SW: The name just popped into my head one day while I was driving my mom's old Honda Civic on a highway just north of Peterborough, Ontario. I liked the name Umbrellas for a group but it didn't quite feel right. The band name gods implanted Strumbellas into my brain and that was that. Also, 'Meatloaf' was taken.
24: Your debut album was nominated for a Juno Award and produced by Cone McCaslin of Sum 41. How did he help shape your sound?
SW: I think Cone helped us make it a tight record. We are such a young band we are not ready to make a live-off-the-floor, spacey-type album yet, so Cone really showed us the ropes on making a well-produced, tight record. And he works likes a dog, which didn't hurt either.
24: Tell us about the new album, We Still Move on Dance Floors.
SW: We recorded it just north of Seattle at Bear Creek Studio. It took about two weeks and I don't think I left the studio the entire time we were recording. It was great. In terms of sound, I think this record is a mix of the classic Strumbellas sound but also has a few tracks that show we've grown a bit. It's a little less country overall, but still has some catchy stuff on it that people can sing along to. It's a more positive record than the last too. I was in a better place when writing this record in terms of my own happiness and I think it shows on both the lyrics and the vibe of it.
24: With six people in the group, is there one sole musical direction or does everyone have input?
SW: We all have input for sure. There are, of course, some who have stronger personalities than others, but overall we generally agree on music-related decisions. I think I might be the pushiest member when trying to make a music-related decision, but that's only because I'm always right.
24: I’ve talked to a number of artists that say every city has its own personality. How do you see Vancouver’s vibe?
SW: Vancouver just has that friendly, laid-back vibe that people really like. It just has that 'cool' factor that other cities can't seem to get. It all starts at calling Vancouver 'Van,' something us Ontarians aren't cool enough to pull off.
24: What do you foresee in 2014?
SW: Drinking champagne with Bono on the Swiss Alps while getting back tickles in a Van Halen t-shirt.