Ob das am Wasser des Winnipeg-Sees liegt? Die Musik der Alternativ-Popper von Royal Canoe klingt auch auf ihrem dritten Album „Something Got Lost Between Here And The Orbit“ wie von einem anderen Planeten. Und dennoch: Die wagemutigen Songstrukturen, der rhythmische Wahnsinn und das klanggewordene Anders-Sein generell sind Urheber einiger der unwahrscheinlichsten Ohrwürmer überhaupt. Die Band, die ihre Arrangements schon mal auf Millimeter-Papier ausdruckt, ist – in einem Wort – einfach special. Huch – das waren ja jetzt doch zwei. Egal – auf ins Interview-Getümmel.
JOINMUSIC: Were you able to sell your old tour cargo trailer? For a decent price that is?
ROYAL CANOE: Still working on that! We just bought a new trailer, so we got to get rid of the old one soon. Do you know anyone who wants a 5 x 10 enclosed cargo trailer with axle brakes? Great condition. $2500 OBO.
JM: Is the new trailer some kind of collective investment then?
RC: Yeah. At the core, we’re like any small business. We gotta keep growing.
JM: Speaking of investing in the band: „Something Got Lost …“ is your third album on the third label: Was the possibility of founding your own label ever debated and why did you ultimately decided against it?
RC: We thought about it, but concluded that it was hard enough to keep the ball rolling with the tasks we already have. The more hands on deck, the better even if you get a smaller slice of the pie.
JM: How did the relationship between you and Embassy of Music come into play?
RC: Our management had a pre-existing relationship with them. They really liked the new record and it sounded like a good fit for us. Happy to be a part of the family!
JM: It is apparent, that „Something Got Lost…“ is soundwise – maybe not another planet – but on another continent. Was that concept/design of sound something Ben Allen introduced to the band? What exactly was it, that drove you to go for yet another aural-context (I thought of „Today We’re Believers“ as perfect)?
RC: Generally speaking, the concept and design were already taking shape before we started working with Ben. He was really instrumental, though, in getting us to tell more of a story and be bolder with our arrangements. He also brought some important musical ideas to the table and is a mixing god.
JM: Your songs got shorter. And I don’t mean „New Recording 270“. Have you noticed?
RC: Haha. Not sure that they feel shorter to us. But you’re probably right. Maybe we were trying to be more succinct.
JM: By the way: What is it with this „New Recording 270“?
RC: It’s an iPhone recording from a few years back when we were staying at a another band’s place in DC. They were having a crazy house party, so I went down to the basement and found this organ in the corner. I left my iPhone recording for like 45 minutes as a few of us jammed. Little home recordings like this were the genesis of a bunch of our songs on this record so it felt right to include it on the record.
JM: Why do have the feeling that I can’t count „I Am Collapsing So Slowly“ correctly? How exactly did you mess with the rhythm or is it just a purposely imperfect loop?
RC: It started as an acoustic guitar recording we did that was chopped up without much consideration for time. Afterwards, while trying to find a way to incorporate a rhythmic component we dropped in a drum loop from an Outkast song. It was just a bit too long so I chopped off the last 16th beat and somehow when we listened back to the loop it had this really great feel. So, if you were to count it, it would be a very fast 15/16.
JM: This song and „Holidays“ are the arithmetic middle of the new album – tracklisting-wise. Are they supposed to mark some kind of climax? – Just going by the sounds, their (structural) complexity and assuming the hard work behind it – they could.
RC: I’m not sure that was intentional, but thinking about the flow of the record, I like their position at the top of the arc.
JM: Are the strings and the brass employed samples or did you work with actual musicians?
RC: Almost all of the strings and horns were recorded with real players. Although occasionally we supplemented the organic sound with a sampled string if we wanted a larger sound.
JM: Why does „Holidays“ fade out? Most of your songs don’t – which is somewhat like a prerequisite with your music being played live – right?!
RC: We chose a fade here because there was just no way we could find to end it otherwise. I feel like you get a few fade outs per album.
JM: What’s up with the cover this time – it’s less abstract then on the previous album – but still not very clear – at least for me?
RC: We worked with an artist based in Winnipeg named Hannah Doucet. Thematically, the album deals with disconnection and how communication is obscured by distance… We felt like the images Hannah created with human forms printed on fabric and then interacting with real human forms told that story in a beautiful way.
JM: When I first saw the cover for your „Beck’s Song Reader“ I went: What will Royal Canoe do with that beer company? – Can you tell me a little bit about that project please?
RC: We had heard that Beck was going to release a collection of songs with sheet music only and we thought it would be an interesting challenge to record and perform as many of the songs as we could.. and as quickly as possible. So we bought the songbook the day it came out and got to work. It was a new way for us to think about production. Instead of the song/words/arrangement coming together over a few weeks or months, we had words and chords to start with. It freed us up in some ways. Also, we just kind of changed what we felt we needed to so that it still felt like Royal Canoe. There were suggested parts, but we mainly just used the chords and words and built from there.
JM: On your discogs entry the list of members looks like this:
Andy Freund (2), Brendan Berg, Bucky Driedger, David Wiebe, Derek Allard, Jo Snyder, Joey Penner, Matt Peters, Matt Schellenberg (2), Michael Jordan (8), Nathan Blanchard, Rusty Matyas, Steve Senkiw, Tom Keenan is this just bad information or was/is the fluctuation within the band really that high?
RC: This is bad information for the most part. Haha. I wonder who creates these things. The original side project featured co-writes with the now crossed-out names on the list.. but it was never really a band at that point. The band is: Derek Allard, Brendan Berg, Bucky Driedger, Michael Jordan, Matt Peters and Matt Schellenberg.
JM: Will it take another three years to your next album?
RC: We really hope not. We’ve been talking about that quite a bit. In addition to really wanting to write/record another LP we have multiple other Royal Canoe related projects on the go that could develop into a release of some sort. We’re helping write and perform a musical adaptation of Richard II which will be performed in Winnipeg this Winter and also we have a vision for an instrumental Hip Hop album. If there was only more time…
JM: Thank you for the interview.
Foto: Jaclyn Campanaro