Welland Ontario’s Attack in Black is in the middle of a Canadian tour promoting their new album Years (By One Thousand Fingertips). Before their show in London on Friday night, Ian Kehoe and Daniel Romano of Attack in Black took a break from unloading merchandise and gear to reflect on their past and weigh in on their future. Dan absentmindedly strings a beaten and gutted Fender while Ian looks on.
You won the 2007 CASBY Award “North by Northeast Favourite New Indie Release,” for your Dine Alone Records debut Marriage. The next year Dallas Green won the award for Bring Me Your Love – because of the work you put in on that album, did it feel a little like you’d won the award again?
Dan – I actually had no idea he’d won. That’s great. But no, definitely not.
Brothers like the Sedin Twins have wound up on the same pro hockey teams together because talent scouts have noticed the chemisty they have performing together. Dan, is this the same reason you and your brother (Ian Romano) are in a band together now?
Dan – Yeah, we definitely have a good vibe. We’ve just been playing together for so long.
Dan, in honour of Mother’s Day, were your parents supportive of you and Ian’s decision to become musicians?
Dan – They were totally supportive. It helped that they were both musicians when they were younger as well. Of course they were wary when we were roughing it, and told us that we ought to go to school, but they’ve always been very cool. They always let us practice at their house.
John Fogerty wrote “Proud Mary” without ever having seen the Mississippi River. Do you think a song about a place you’ve never been can be as meaningful as one about a place you know really well, such as “The Greater Niagara Circle Route”?
Dan – Even if you’ve never been to the place, a song about that place can still really mean something to other people. Lots of people talk about – or sing about – the Mississippi River, but not a lot of people talk about the Greater Niagara Circle Route. It’s just a nice place to go with friends.
The new album features a lot of songs with female back up singers – was this your intention from the start of writing those songs, or did it come to you in the studio?
Ian – When we were in the studio we could tell we wanted a soft female voice on some tracks.
Specifically, how did you get in touch with Julie Doiron – who’s worked with the Tragically Hip and Okkervil River – to sing on the album?
Dan – Well, we’d played on Sappy Fest, which is a festival she runs. After that she recorded with us on another album so when we were recording Years we called her up and asked her – and she said yes.
Last time you were in London you played with Wintersleep, Ladyhawk and Wooden Stars – what kind of relations do you keep with bands you’ve toured with?
Ian – Touring is such a great way to make friends. When you’re on the road, making friends with the other bands is the only way to make friends on tour, outside of hanging around the venue before and after shows.
Dan – Touring is a beautiful time to bond with someone.
What does it mean, as you say in the title track on your new album, to “hold one thousand years by one thousand fingertips”?
Ian – That was a sentiment in response to someone that told me they didn’t think their life was of any value. So, when you hold someone you’re holding more than just them.
Dan – For me it’s just about reassuring someone that life does have value.
Right now you’re heading East across Canada making a lot of stops in smaller cities and university towns like Peterborough, St. Catherines and Kingston. How important is it to you to make stops beyond routine stops like Toronto and Montreal?
Dan – It’s very important.
Ian – Absolutely. In fact, Sudbury is probably my favourite place to play in Canada.
What’s next for the band after your upcoming show in Montreal? Are you continuing on to the Maritimes?
Ian – No, this tour is done after Montreal. After that we’re going to be playing at some summer festivals like the Hillside Festival, Sappy Fest, and Wolfe Island Festival in Kingston. Besides that we’re constantly recording in Mr. Romano’s basement.
Who’s someone you’d attack in black?
Ian – Ah, I don’t know. I don’t really have any enemies to speak of (chuckles).
Dan – I definitely do have some enemies – but none to speak of.