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English Words – Interview

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English Words

English Words

English Words is a band based out of Charlottetown with an exciting future ahead of them. The band consists of Ryan Crane as the lead singer, Aaron Crane on the drum machine and keyboards, Todd MacLean on the synthesizer, Andrew Murray on guitar, and Thayne Campbell on bass. English Words will be debuting their new album Red Potion on September 7 at Hunter’s Ale House for Islanders and nationally on September 18. Before then English Words will be playing at Hunter’s Ale House on August 10 with Molly Rankin. I got to speak with lead singer Ryan earlier this week and this is what he had to say.



1. How is the new album, Red Potion, coming along?

It’s ready to go! It’s been done since late April, early May.



2. How is it different from your previous EP, Customer Appreciation?

The sound is different. With Customer Appreciation we were very much a rock band with lots of guitars and big, loud drums and everything was tightly wound and full of urgency. Where this record Red Potion is electronic, so the drums are mechanical and the keyboards are the primary instrument.  There are guitars and they’re great but it’s mostly driven by the keyboard. It’s also a little more poppy, a bit more of a communal vibe, there are songs on it that will appeal to a wider audience. It wasn’t intentional, it just kind of happened that way because of the nature of electronic music. It lends itself to a more social kind of atmosphere. When I was writing lyrics for it the musical template brought out more common themes, less abstract than our previous material.

The main difference though is my brother Aaron who plays four or five instruments and I think if you asked him he’d say that he’s a keyboard and piano player and wanted to make the switch from drums. So we experimented with the drum machine with our side band called The Death Avengers who no longer exist but one of our band mates suggested working with it. So, we locked ourselves away for the better part of five months working on this new sound and in January of 2012 we recorded the new record.



3. Why did you decide to change the name of the band from Smothered In Hugs to English Words?

A lot of bands hate their name, and a lot of bands wish they could change their name and their sound, a lot of bands wish they could do a lot of things. I’m not trying to sound like we’re really super cool but we’ve always attacked change with an open mind. The sonic shift in sound is representative of our restlessness as a group and we always want to do something new and we thought with the old name and the old sound that, well, we just wanted something different. With our old name Smothered In Hugs we found that people were getting the wrong idea of what we might sound like before they even heard us because “Smothered In Hugs” is a goofy, kind of cuddly name and we weren’t really a very ‘cuddly’ band. We got the name from a song by Guided By Voices and it was our favorite Guided By Voices song at the time, the funny thing is that they have amazing song titles and we could have picked anything.

Even with a band with a super great name like Arcade Fire, you can’t really explain what they sound like just from their name. I mean, they could be a punk band, electronic, metal, but they’re none of those things. The one thing about the name is that it’s not misleading, Arcade Fire doesn’t tell you who they are but it doesn’t send you in the wrong direction either. But that’s what Smothered In Hugs was for us, it just sent people in the wrong direction and we wanted to rectify that.



4. What inspires you to write songs?

A cultivated love for music and the strong connection I have with my brother. We’ve been sharing music for a long time, even before we were writing music together. I would by a CD by, let’s say Pavement back when they were still cool and I’d be in my teenage years and he’d be about ten years old and he’d steal my Pavement CD and lay in the dark and listen to that all summer long while his friends were out playing baseball or things like that. That just evolved to the point where we both got musical training and the next level of sharing would be to write songs together and try to play our own music.

Everyone in the band are all creative people and for me I have to find some type of creative outlet and turns out I’m a better musician than a filmmaker or painter or storyteller or novelist. So music was the most efficient outlet for us to be creative. It’s also nice to have an outlet when something is bothering you or you have something to say and need to get that off your chest and hear what other people have to say about it.



5. If you were chosen to start a new civilization on Mars but could only bring a limited number of non-essential items, what would you bring?

On behalf of the band? There would definitely be an original Nintendo game system packed up for sure with specifically the original Legend Of Zelda video game and probably NHL ’94 video game and the original Final Fantasy video game. They would go, most definitely. Taking specific records really isn’t relevant anymore, we’ll just throw all our music on a iPod so we’d have to bring some music playing device. Probably a guitar, nothing too fancy just an old one. And we’d probably bring that board game Settlers of Catan, we play that an awful lot, and a deck of cards. We could occupy ourselves for quite a long time with those items.



6. If you could play on stage with anyone, who would it be?

The Smiths, because well, a lot of bands that we love have reformed for a tour or something and we’ve been able to see them perform live but with The Smiths they broke up in like 1987 and none of us ever had a chance to see them and they’re just one band that’s never going to reform. Probably Abba too because they’re completely amazing despite what other people might think. Those guys are as genus as The Beatles or Led Zeppelin or The Rolling Stones. They made pop-like music so they get made fun of but they’re still great. So, I would say we would open, then The Smiths would play, then Abba. And it would be nice to do the show on the south-west coast of Italy just because it’s an amazing part of the world.



7. What are your future plans after your album release?

We have definite plans where we’re playing Montreal in September and we plan to play at the Halifax Pop Explosion in October. We’re touring in Ontario and Quebec in late October and we’re going to try something different this time, we all have a bit of ADD where we all get pretty bored with ourselves but I think this time we’re really going to tour hard with this album rather than doing small tours and playing a few shows then starting to work on new songs and a new recording. We’re going to try to play as many shows as possible. We’ve played plenty of shows in Charlottetown and in the Maritimes so we’re going to try to find a way financially to constantly be playing in places that haven’t been exposed to us. So that’s basically what our future plans are. Touring, touring, and more touring.



By : Tamara Gravelle