As they get set for a trip to Europe, guitarist Jimmy Shaw gives us some insight on the band’s latest record, music and the economy and tells us what to expect at one of their concerts this summer.
Now I have to say, the album art for Fantasies is simple, yet mesmerizing. Why did you guys choose to have such a picture represent your new record?
The image of a new light within the darkness is something that resonates with us right now. Personally and politically.
Why did you choose the title Fantasies?
Because the new world starts with a fantasy that you slowly turn into a reality. The imagination is the best place to inhabit.
It’s been about a four-year span between your new record and Live It Out and given a first listen, anyone can point out the difference in sound. What influenced you guys the past few years to come up with an album like Fantasies?
I guess its all that we did, saw, felt and tried. We like experimentation. We like exploration.
Was it a choice to leave less attitude and put more emotion on the record?
We naturally came to that decision I suppose.
Give us your own one sentence description of your fourth album.
Breaking your own shell to find yourself alive in a magical, terrifying expanse of terrain and then learning to fly.
I noticed you didn’t put the track “Black Sheep” on the new disc, what’s the reason for that?
Yes there is. It will be in a feature film that you will see soon.
One aspect that’s definitely unmistakable is your lyrics. What’s your songwriting process like and where do you draw your influences to write numbers that are so emotional?
I love when songs are called numbers. Its so noir. Even though I am not the lyricist, I can say that Emily inhabits a world of words and emotions. Every once in a while the two worlds converge and songs are written.
Can it sometimes be too hard for a person to write about a moment in their life?
Yes I suppose it can. But John Lennon broke through that with Plastic Ono band and the world is better for it.
A lot of artists seem to be taking a trip to the world of electro-pop and synthesizers. Do you think that particular sound is where music is headed or are artists just being adventurous?
I just think everyone is copying us. Synths rule.
What do you think today’s music is missing or needs more of?
Honesty, perversion, confidence and possibly a little more of Daryl Hall.
Without a doubt you guys are one of the many faces that represent Canadian music now, how do you feel about that?
Fantastic. When I was younger you couldn’t get a gig booked in Buffalo if you were Canadian, now people come to your show just because you are! Victory!
Is the Canadian music scene rising or fading? What bands/musicians should people take the time to check out?
Sustaining ideally. We already took over the world, lets not push it. Check out your friends band, they’re probably pretty good.
It’s been hard to strive as a band with the economy and with the whole leaking CDs saga, it doesn’t seem like it will get easier. Do you think some bands may call it quits soon because they can’t cope with everything?
Any musician that calls it quits because the money is no good shouldn’t be in music.
Do you think it’s going to be harder to do tours now since times are tough?
No I don’t. People need escape. They need visceral pleasure. They need to dream. The rock concert is the pinnacle of all three. If I had a middle of the road Italian restaurant in Cincinnati, then I would be scared.
Will younger bands get noticed more now since they’ll play shows with a lot of heart and not mind doing it for free or getting paid in grilled cheese sandwiches?
Did they ever mind? Show me a musician who turns down a grilled cheese. With bacon? that deserves an encore.
How has touring been for you guys in the past year? Any funny stories or moments that piss you off?
It pisses me off when the show is over and I have to wait another 23 hours to play again. Oh and every morning when you wake up on a bus sucks. You wake up on a shelf, in the dark with no air. You don’t know where water, showers, coffee or food is, let alone where the hell you are. Its very discombobulating.
Since the new record will be out soon, who do you guys hope to tour with and where?
Id love to keep touring with the rest of my band, that would be awesome. And for Fantasies, we’re mainly targeting planet EARTH.
I personally think your new songs need to be played somewhere intimate yet extraordinary, like an art gallery or even on the shores of a lake. Would you guys be interested in doing something like that?
The lake sounds awesome. How about the Grand Canyon? Or a show on the Conchord? Underwater Reef Rock? YES!!
There’s been talk you guys have a “special surprise” planned for Canada in promotion for the release of Fantasies. Are you willing to give us all a hint at to what it is?
We are baking a cake to feed 30 million. But the snow blower for the sprinkles is jammed so it might take a while.
To end off on a unique note, if I was about to go see you guys play live this summer, what should I be prepared for?
A musical experience of epic proportions. Get plenty of sleep before hand. Our show tends to induce feelings of grandeur and a highly increased sex drive.