Nearing the end of their latest excursion to Europe performing at this year’s Glastonbury Music Festival, self-identifying Montreal band Half Moon Run gears up to head back home to their Canadian roots after earning themselves a spot in this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest lineup — and rightfully so.
The band just released their debut album, Dark Eyes, to the UK on July 1st. Recorded by Canada’s Indica Records and released nationally in March of 2012, Half Moon Run has since toured alongside artists such as Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men a mere 15 months after their Canadian release.
“For Canadian music, there’s certainly something special about Canada. I mean, our home in terms of the music scene is Montreal,” said keyboardist, percussionist, and vocalist, Dylan Phillips over the phone. “I feel kind of distant from where I came from, I don’t feel very connected to that music scene, though the more we tour we’re encountering a lot more groups and Canadian music, but Montreal is really becoming our family now.”
If you’ve never heard their music, the wealth of instruments in Phillips’ repertoire is but a glimpse of the talent behind the band’s collective musicians.
The band’s unconventional stylistic nature is both solidified and accentuated by their musical congruency and bona fide vocal harmonies in an awe-inspiring manner. Though their genre has been compared to indie rock and/or folk rock, Phillips offers a different, perhaps even more impartial approach to their music.
“I understand the need for a lot of people to place things — like I do the same thing when I listen to a band that I hear for the first time, and I like to compare it to other things, to put it into categories. But that’s really actually uninteresting for us, we like to really focus on the musical side of things and come up with things that we can’t really describe, because that’s a fun thing to do as a musician, it’s one of the things that keeps us going, what keeps us interested.”
For Phillips, the city of Montreal can be attributed as the preponderance of not only the band’s creative inspiration, but also of their very existence as a group.
“We actually didn’t know each other before Montreal,” says Phillips, “None of us knew each other, which was very strange being that three of us are from the same hometown, and even the same high school, but we were apart in years and so we met in Montreal through a combination of mutual friends and a Craig’s List ad.”
“In a certain sense it [song-writing] is therapeutic and in another sense it’s kind of exploratory. Just trying to expand a different way. And really, the music you write during those times reflects what’s going on in your life,” says Phillips on the band’s musical spur, “I think part of Dark Eyes the inspiration for us was our lives in Montreal and for a lot of us, well for all of us, Montreal was a very new place and a lot of new things were happening, and we were all doing different things andÂ coming into the jam space kind of just brought our lives into the same place to see what we come up with.”
Phillips said with another tour down, the band is looking forward to getting back to performing on Canadian soil.
“Well, we love touring the world, we love seeing new places, but you know, home is where the heart is and we have a special need to return home from time to time,” admits Phillips, “We always love coming home, and playing for home crowds is obviously always a treat when we get the chance.”
Don’t miss Half Moon Run performing at Ottawa Bluesfest July 13th.
Acres of Lions interview at Vans Warped Tour
The Scene Magazine’s Raya P Morrison had a chance to meet up with Acres of Lions at this years Vans Warped Tour in Toronto.Â The band spoke of life on the road, bands they’ve played with like Ten Sceond Epic and what they’ll do if they meet Jimmy Eat World.
Listen to the interview HERE
Interview By: Raya P. Morrison
Tommy Cee of Diemonds interview at Vans Warped Tour
The Scene’s Raya P. Morrison had a chance to meet up with Tommy Cee of Diemonds at Vans Warped Tour July 5, 2013.Â Â They spoke of water guns, boobs and what Tommy was expecting to see and do at Vans Warped Tour.
Check out the interview here:
Interview: Raya P. Morrison
The unfortunate inevitability of crude and cheap categorization is one that each and every artist wrangles with. From sunup to sundown, until the last chord, pen stroke, or brush sweep, their works will be quantified and calculated, and endlessly rammed into an ill-fitting schematic, becoming a frame of reference for the lazy.
Don’t fret; England’s Frank Turner won’t be bogged down in the tags and labels slapped upon his work.
“Lifetimes have been wasted arguing about what folk means and what punk means,” he explained over the phone.
“At the end of the day, genre categorization exists and serves purpose up to and including the moment when everybody involved in the conversation has heard the music and the discussion, after which, who really gives a shit? To people who are into hardcore punk, I’m definitely at the more folk end of things, and people who are very much into folk music, what I do is very punk by their standards or whatever. I don’t really care. At the end of the day, if people enjoy it, they enjoy it, and if they don’t, they don’t.”
The blasÃ© approach to the music world isn’t so much driven by negativity, but reality.
“Songwriting, I think as an art form in and of itself devoid of any genre tags, is the thing that I’m actually interested in,” he said.
The no-strings-attached approach to songwriting has proven incredible fruitful for Turner, whose powerful, punchy tunes and bottomless work ethic won him two AIM awards in 2011: “Best Live Act” and “Hardest Working Artist.”
“I like working hard and I like doing things properly,” he pointed. “It’s not something that I’ve ever really had to kind of like sit down and plan.”
“It’s just my approach, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly.”
Since his fifth studio album, Tape Deck Heart, was released on April 22, Turner’s stock in North America has risen markedly; between playing loads of “Late Night” television programs and appearing on the main stage at this week’s Ottawa Bluesfest, he’s made his way from humble bar-gig warrior to larger-than-life stage-star.
Thematically, the record calls on darker sides of the human experience.
“Certainly, I think that Tape Deck Heart is one of the more downbeat records that I’ve written in my life,” said Turner. “It’s the overarching themes of change, and heartbreak, and loss, and that kind of thing, which aren’t particularly cheery subjects to write about.”
“I don’t think that everything being hunky-dory is a particularly good theme of ideas to mine for writing music or making art, it’s just not a particularly fruitful kind of venture … It’s just not really what I want to do with my time.”
“There’s catharsis to be gained through kind of sharing bad experiences or sharing dark sides, more trying sides, of life, and that’s certainly what all my favourite music does,” reasoned Turner. “It kind of makes you feel better about life by talking about the bad stuff.”
Those who are familiar with Turner’s work know he isn’t all doom and gloom. Chaining all of this unavoidable negativity is his enduring aptitude for optimism.
“I think I am a reasonably optimistic person at base, and so that kind of shines through, and I hope that by the end of the record there’s some kind of glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
The musical construction of the record differs as well from that of his previous work.
“Something that I’ve had to teach myself over the years, is that quite often less is more, and the solution to a musical problem is quite often to take things away from it,” noted Turner. “A large part of it has to do with the previous record, England Keep My Bones, which incidentally is an album that I love and I’m very proud of, but that was quite a grandiose record, and that’s fine as far as that goes. [But] I think if you go too far down that road, grandiosity kind of verges on pomposity.”
Tape Deck Heart certainly is a more reserved and brooding affair in comparison to his 2011 release, but that’s not to say it is without it’s anthemic, sweeping, waves-crashing-on-rock moments of release and celebration.
“I’m a sucker for a sing-along,” he said with a laugh.
With one foot planted firmly in English soil and one striding onward, Turner has found, through the years, a home-style mash of both “olde” and new. Despite the undeniably and irreverently fresh styles and sounds he’s brought forth, Turner is quick as anyone to tip his hat to those who went before, who gathered the wood for the fire which he now stokes.
For Turner, the continuity and shared nature of music history isn’t something to loathe, but to love.
“I quite like the idea of the music that I make becoming part of the tapestry, almost, that goes back through, on one hand, Dylan and Guthrie and Springsteen and all that kind of shit, and on the other hand, The Descendants, and Black Flag and The Clash and stuff like that.”
Trying to reinvent the wheel isn’t necessarily going to make you famous; it’s more likely to make you a fool. This is no more true than with music. Although a cavalier attitude towards your craft will often yield solid results, it’s important to stay grounded.
“If you attempt to kind of deny the fact that you’re but the latest in a long string that stretches back in terms of songwriting, with any genre, you’ve either got to be ballsy as fuck and generally revolutionary, or you just don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Turner.
“As I get older, it’s kind of like I don’t really care what the kind of stylistic and contextual trappings of any given song are, and on that level, I feel kind of like ABBA and NOFX have more in common than they have that separates them.”
An interesting comparison; a stretch, in fact. But, on closer inspection, it’s not such a stretch at all, as Turner illuminates.
“They both write great, short, three-minute pop songs. NOFX used to instrumentize them with fast drum beats and loud guitars, and ABBA did it with kind of cheesy synths and disco beats but at the end of the day, it’s a similar kind of activity being undertaken.”
“You’re trying to create a memorable melody and lyrics within a context of a three-minute pop song, and that’s kind of the thing that I’m intrigued by,” he added. “Elvis Costello’s really interesting talking about the art of the pop song, as sort of unmoored from the ideas of genre considerations.”
When all is said and done, Frank Turner will continue to do what he does best, and that’s what he’s done for the past decade: be himself, whatever, whenever, and wherever that may be. He won’t be held in port by lock or label, and he won’t confine himself to the walls of any genre. He’s not a punk, not a folk singer, not a rocker.
Frank Turner is none of those things. He’s just a sucker for a sing-along.
TJR Interview – Digital Dreams
The Scene’s Julie Beauchamp had a chance to meet up with TJR at Digital Dreams Toronto 2013.Â Â Â Â TJR (real name TJ Rozdilsky) has built a formidable catalog of remixes and original tracks since broadening out from his acid house and techno roots in 2008. TJR recently signed to Chris Lake’s 360 Music Publishing and has been playing some of the biggest festivals in 2013.Â Â He has been cooking up big room bangers that have received support from Tiesto, Fatboy Slim, Chuckie, Benny Benassi, Dada Life, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Chris Lake, Umek and many more. Originally from the little state of Connecticut, a move to Los Angeles in 2009 saw him embrace the benefits of America’s hot spot for electronic dance music.Â The Scene had a chance to catch up with TJR back stage at 2013 Digital Dreams to interview him about beer, girls, hockey, Toronto, music and the inspirations for what he does.
Interview: Julie Beauchamp
Editor: Darrell Shelley