Nothing Gets Lost In The Details
In the 18 short months they've been together, The Details have toured Canada multiple times, including two jaunts during the winter, and released an EP and their debut full-length, Draw a Distance, Draw a Border.
It's not surprising that the Winnipeg band has earned a reputation as one of Western Canada's hardest working bands. Singer/guitarist Jon Plett took a few minutes during a tour stop in Charlottetown PEI to chat with me.
Q: How did the band come together?
JP: Sean Vidal and I, the guitar player, we had been in a band before. We played for several years together and that sort of dissolved and then about a year after that we decided we wanted to start something again so we got a hold of Sean Gibson, the drummer, and I had seen him play in various bands and I definitely knew I wanted to ask him so I was ecstatic when that worked out.
Then we needed a bass player and after a little bit of time we found Keli (Martin) and that was also immediately successful. So, that was the band.
It didn't take long at all actually, it took only a month or so and we had the line-up.
JP: They're just friends of ours from Winnipeg. We've played shows with Paper Moon and in various bands (we've been in) we've all been playing shows with Paper Moon for years.
As far as Steve goes, before The Weakerthans he was in all kinds of bands that we also played shows with regularly. Kelly was pretty good friends with Steve and we wanted some pedal steel and we knew a pedal steel player and that was Steve so we asked him.
As far as Alison goes she was in the studio one day anyway working one something else so we asked her if she'd so some backing vocals on one song and she agreed.
Q: How's the tour been going so far?
JP: The tour's been going well! It's always hit and miss. Some nights are great and some nights are a little sparse.
The thing about tours is you always have to find the place to play on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, right? Because the weekends are generally great and (during) the week you generally get through.
But it's been really good! Some of the shows have been awesome and the response is always really positive. So far we're really happy with it. I mean it seems like we've been out for a while but I think we're just starting so we'll see how it finishes up. But I'm pretty excited about it all.
Q: The songs on the album are quite personal. Do you ever feel uncomfortable laying yourself bare like that?
JP: I think I do maybe sometimes. Or sometimes when it's the first time I'm playing it for the band or sometimes maybe it's the first time I'm playing it live or maybe it the first time somebody who I may have written about is hearing the song and all of a sudden they realize what I've done! (Laughs)
I think I do sometimes get uncomfortable but at the same time a lot of the songs on that CD that sound very personal are not nearly as personal as they sound. A lot of it, not all of it, but a lot of it can be somewhat hypothetical.
Q: How did you earn your reputation as being one of "Western Canada's hardest working bands"?
JP: You know, I don't know! I've been in bands for a long time, but I don't think I ever really actually got it as far as how much work is required and within the last year and a half I have and the other part of is we're just four people who want something really bad and together we're all really hard workers, we hold each other accountable so things get done.
When someone says they're going to do something, they do it and it's just how things work with us and as a result it's actually another reason that we probably work a little bit too hard is because we have a hard time trusting other people with our business and doing it all ourselves and then it ends up being more work than it needed to be but you know how it is; you can't leave something with somebody and you're like, "Oh jeez, if this doesn't get done I'm gonna be upset!"
Maybe that's something we need to learn how to let go of! (Laughs)
Q: Since the band got together, you've hardly gone a day without seeing your bandmates. Do you ever get sick of one and other?
JP: (Laughs) You know, it's really been awesome I have to say. Especially on tour it really it really is 24 hours a day that we're together. But it's fun! It's really a lot of fun and when you're exhausted, well, we're all exhausted. Everyone's going through it together and when it's an awesome show, we all just had that awesome show. It's fun to experience what we're experiencing with three other people that you really appreciate.
So, it's really good and there's always the odd small disagreement about the songwriting or whatever it would be but no, it's really been an awesome ride so far.
Q: What was touring across Canada in the dead of winter like?
JP: Ha! That's funny. Well, we did Western Canada in winter and it's not the greatest, I'm gonna be honest. There's pros and cons to everything. We're on the road in October, right now we're in Charlottetown actually but the weather is great, it's not too hot, it's not cold.
But the thing about touring in October is that everyone is on tour and it can be hard to get press and you can find yourself in a city playing one the same night as five other bands that you'd actually love to go see. So, there's so much going on.
Whereas in winter if you can stomach it, you can draw some decent crowds just 'cause so few bands make the effort to do it. But I'm gonna be honest and say I don't know that we're ever gonna tour Canada in Winter again, it's too dangerous, it really is.
Q: Considering the relentless touring schedule you've maintained over the year and a half, was it difficult to find time to record the album?
JP: Yes! It absolutely was. We did this interesting thing where we decided to leave to go on tour on a couple of occasions during the recording process and that was in some ways I liked that we did that because it got us away from the studio for a week or two at a time, but at the same time it really did drag the whole process out a little longer than I think we all wanted.
The other thing is a common (misconception) is; well, if you're in the studio you must be practiced up. But that is very much not true. When you're recording it's such a different animal from playing live that you have to stop recording and practice for a couple days as a live band to get in shape to go on tour so that takes an even bigger chunk out of the recording time.
That really made things so hectic. But it was cool that we could tour with the EP while we were recording the album.
When the album came out, we had already gone on a couple of tours and it really has helped for the album tours now as far name recognition and things like that so I think it was a good idea in the end.
Q: How did appearing on Much Does Winnipeg help the band?
JP: I don't know, it's hard to say I think you can ask that about almost everything that you ever do. How did that show help things or how did that piece of press (help). I think it all helps and very often not anything you can quantify.
MySpace plays go up substantially for a few days and may be they go up permanently.
And you run into the odd person who says, "Hey! I saw you on MuchMusic!"
Q: Do you have anything special planned for your show at The Boat on the 14th?
JP: Oh, special? Well because it's Toronto and because people in Toronto are, not that other cities aren't, always used to such top-notch entertainment every night of the week.
Whenever we play Toronto, we definitely feel like we have to bring the A game because there's just way too many good bands that if you have a mediocre night, it's gonna be lost in the shuffle.
I don't think there's any special tricks, except just a touch of extra pressure to put on a good one that night.
Q: What does the future hold for the band?
JP: The future is we'll finish this tour up then and then we'll probably take a couple of months in the dead of winter to not go on the road and then I think as soon as the snow starts melting we'll hit the road again, we'll probably do Canada again in the spring.
Right now, we're looking into US and European tours and we'll see where that fits in, but that will definitely fit in somewhere in 2008.
We're definitely thinking about the new album already. I don't know when that'll happen, we may record that late 2008, something like that.
Sunday October 14, 9 pm
158 Augusta Avenue
$5 at the door.
Photo by David Hawthorne from The Details myspace page.
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