Call & Response: Library Voices
Library Voices are a ten-piece indie pop collective from Regina. They've had a crazy year. Since blogTO last spoke with them, they've been recording their first album in between lots of touring across Canada. Along the way they've somehow been robbed of $10,000 worth of their gear. Bummer!
People seem to really like their debut EP and "Drinking Games" - the new song posted on their Myspace page - sounds even better. They played Edge Nu Music Night at The Horseshoe last Tuesday and they're doing it again tomorrow night. They're apparently the first band to ever play the night two weeks in a row.
I spoke with Michel Dawson about the band's highs and lows on the road, their upcoming album, and their thoughts on our city.
blogTO: How's the tour been going? Any highlights on- and off-stage?
Michel Dawson: The tour has been really great so far. For the past couple of months we've just been playing a bunch of one-off shows, so it feels so good to be playing every night again. You can feel the songs start to come together in a way they don't by only playing once every week or so. Highlights on stage so far have been playing with The Burning Hell in Peterborough and playing before Woodhands and The Arkells at Hillside.
Off-stage there's been a few golden moments. A couple of nights ago Carl stayed up until the break of dawn covering Neutral Milk Hotel songs around the campfire with The Rural Alberta Advantage and Woodhands. Last night a few caught Final Fantasy playing cover songs at an open stage in Guelph.
You've had some bad luck with lost/stolen gear, right?
Yeah, we did. It seems to happen to everyone eventually. Some sort of cruel initiation into being a touring musician. We did our best to keep a positive spin on the whole situation, despite the fact that we lost a few irreplaceable items. We just rented what we needed to finish up that tour and have since shopped around and managed to replace most of what was lost.
How do you tour comfortably with 10 members (driving, hotels, etc)?
The long and short of it is that you don't. It¹s just not possible. Have you ever saw the movie Shakes The Clown with Bobcat Goldwaithe? There's a scene where about a dozen drunk clowns climb out of a tiny little car and beat up some mimes. That's basically what traveling in the van feels like - 10 bodies stuffed in a space that could never fit more than 4 or 5 people comfortably. Hotels aren't really much better. We're always sneaking someone up the back stairwell to save a few dollars and pushing chairs together to build extra places to sleep.
With 10 members, how do you decide who does what on each song? Do you ever have a hard time finding something interesting for everybody to do?
We just have to remind ourselves regularly to stay focused on whatever is in the best interest of each particular song. More often than not great ideas get lost on the cutting room floor and songs stretch and grow in unexpected directions and people add their contributions. It's never really an issue of "what can you do in this song"? It's more like "what does this song need"? As some sort of unwritten rule we typically go too far, adding way more than we need and then take a moment to step back and focus in on what's working best.
"Drinking Games" is a great song. What's it about?
Thanks. A lot of the songs on the new album are little anecdotal stories. Archetype creations of our friends and peers. That one floats back and fourth about peoples tendency to associate songs with personal memories and with morning afters. I always have such a difficult time discussing what the songs are about or where they came from, I suppose that's something I'm going to have to get over.
When is the new album coming out?
In the words of the Beach Boys: "God Only Knows". We have the record done, it's been done for awhile now. It's just a matter of sorting the details and the W's. Who will release it and when? The plan was to have it out for summer, but as it stands right now we're hoping for late fall.
What do you like best about Toronto? Where have you been hanging out?
We rarely get much time to just ³hang out² in Toronto. We're usually running around doing promo and such. Last week we got to spend a bit of time at CBC, and it was great to check out the 3 story portrait of Rich Terfry. Other than that we've just been catching up with old friends, had an incredible lunch at the St. Lawrence Market with one of our favorite people on earth, Eli. A couple of us also hit up Sweaty Betty's.
Has Regina ever had a garbage strike? What's your take on our strike as a visitor?
Regina has had similar issues in the past. A couple years back they weren't picking up in my neighbourhood and things were getting dicey. We were on the verge of all sorts of infestations before it was all cleared up. As for the TO strike, I haven't found it to be as bad as I was imagining. Truth be told the streets aren't really any worse than the floor of the van so it sort of feels like home.
Does touring to larger cities make you want to move away from Regina or reinforce the love for your hometown?
We were just having this conversation the other day. About how rarely a band who relocates to a city ever really manages to get ahead or stay together. We have no plans whatsoever to relocate. I am also, to an extent, of the belief that no matter where you live you just end going to the same handful of the places and running into the same handful of people. Obviously there's a lot more going on in major cities than there is in our little punchline of a city but I'm a bit of a homebody anyway so it's all the same to me.
Are they any Regina bands we should check out?
There's so much great music coming out of Regina right now. It's insane really, and we feel so lucky to be a part of it. Check out Rah Rah, The Lazy MK's, Andy Shauf, and Matt Goud.
What can people expect to see/hear/feel at your Horseshoe show?
We're doing this show down one member. Our beloved guitarist Brett is unable to attend. He had a loss in his family this past week, someone extremely close to him and who meant a lot to all of the band. Brett is a real creative force in the band, so it's been difficult to compensate for his absence...but he wrote me a very kind email asking we dedicate our Horseshoe show to her memory. With that said, we'll be playing our little
hearts out to honor his request.
Edge Nu Music Night
w/ Songs From A Room, The Grates, Library Voices, Too Many Sisters
Tuesday, July 28
370 Queen St W
Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with bands from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Must Be Santa.
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