"It makes me think of when I was young, and makes me sad" We chat with The Strumbellas
With album number four recently released, we had the chance to catch up with Canadian band The Strumbellas to talk about the new album, Rattlesnake, what's changed for them, winning multiple awards, and how the industry treats women. Here are Dave, Simon, and Isabel answering our questions.
Hey guys, how’s your day going so far?
Simon Today has been good so far, we pulled into England yesterday, so today we didn’t have any travelling, so in band life that’s a good day.
What have you been up to ahead of your gig today? [Ed: we spoke to the band ahead of their recent London show]
Simon We’ve been on a European tour, we went to Paris, and a few spots in Germany so yeah, that’s what we’ve been up to.
Dave We were all sort of looking at each other in the hotel going ‘hey do you have the energy to see museums or go for a walk today?’ ‘No, I think I’m just gonna go back up to my room and watch Netflix…’ it’s sort of coming to the end of the tour, so our energy is running a little low. But maybe tomorrow, we have another day in London tomorrow so we’re thinking Tate Modern.
You’re on album four now, what’s changed the most about you as a band over that time?
Simon Maturity level, nothing has changed. In terms of our music, not much has changed, we kind of have a similar vibe, and I think the only thing different is…
Dave We keep getting better looking…
Simon We’re aging well.
Dave But the physical stamina is going way down.
Simon Yeah, oh yeah. We don’t move around like we used to, that’s for sure. But no, honestly, nothing’s changed that much, we’re just making music and surviving the road.
What can you tell us about Rattlesnake in two sentences?
Simon It's an album about shedding your skin, and moving to new chapters in your life.
Dave That was one sentence. I feel like that exceeded the expectations of the question.
What can you tell us about the current single, ‘Running Scared (Desert Song)’?
Dave 'Running Scared' is one of the vibier songs on the record, the title is 'Running Scared (Desert Song)', and Simon calls it that because it reminds him of a dry, desert landscape, so it’s kind of the song that suggested or embodies the Rattlesnake-y, kind of desert-y theme of the album.
Simon 'Rattlesnake' is the song that I’d put on if I was in the middle of the desert on peyote. Not that I do peyote.
I know it’s hard to choose but what’s the one song you want people to hear from the new album?
Simon The song that I’m most excited for people to hear from the album is ‘I’ll Wait’, only because it makes my heart flutter, and that’s all I search for in music.
Dave I’m most excited for people to hear ‘We Were Young’, which makes me think of when I was young and makes me sad.
Simon That took a dark turn Dave.
Dave I know, sorry. I was a sad child.
There are six of you in the band, how tricky is it when you’re on tour? Do you have to pay for a bigger van? Does it smell of sweaty trainers?
Simon Having six people in a band is easier than you’d think, just because there are so many of us, we just move around. Having lots of people you can shift it up and go to different places with different people and stuff like that, so it actually makes it easier than you’d think.
Isabel It’s never lonely. With six people you’re never alone, which can either be a good or a bad thing…
You’ve won a few awards, including some Juno’s which are pretty big, whatdoes winning awards mean to you?
Simon We, this band, have a top secret list of goals, and winning the Juno for single of the year was very high up on that list, so that was a major accomplishment for us. I mean I’m definitely not going to say who we beat that year… #DRAKE… but it was the most surprising and rewarding accomplishment so far in this band. And because it’s our home country. It’s always nice… I love all the countries we go to, but it’s just, it’s your home country, and it was the single of the year, which is a very prestigious award, so that was a huge time.
What’s coming up in the rest of 2019?
Dave We have a big tour through the US that’s coming up in May, and then just more touring that we’re booking right now. We’re hoping to come back to Europe and some point, and yeah we’re just gonna see everybody out there on the road.
A couple for Isabel now… obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
Isabel I’m really blessed to have found this group of people to work with where among the band and the people we work with I’ve never felt that challenge, and you do encounter it on the road, people don’t think you’re in the band, they just assume… these guys will all walk in a venue and someone will stop me and say ‘excuse me ma’am…’ and stuff like that. But I would say overall I’m really lucky to have the people that I work with.
Do you find yourself treated differently from the guys in the band by tourmanagers, sound people, etc?
Isabel Like I said we’re lucky to be able to choose the people we work with, and everyone’s been really great. I won’t say those moments of inequality don’thappen because they do, but I try not to focus on them too much because you can get into a really negative space about it. So I’m not trying to evade the question, I’m just trying to be positive about it and positive about the great people I get to work with, and not dwell on the negative experiences.
Have you noticed a difference over the last few months as #MeToo and #TimesUp gain publicity?
Isabel I think it’s hard for us to tell because we gained success around the same time that stuff was happening, so you know, with bigger venues and travelling with your own crew or whatever, that gets rid of a lot of that, so it’s hard to say. If I went back and didn’t have those privileges and was playing smaller venues, I don't know, I think probably it hasn’t changed that much. I think a lot of people don't realise… I think if you told people, hey you’re treating me differently, they'd say no I’m not! Or they would be embarrassed… I think a lot of this behaviour, people don’t realise they’re doing it. But I think people are thinking about it a lot more, talking about it a lot more and that’s all good.
To all of you again, if you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
Dave We recently played with another Canadian band, from Montreal, called Guidestones, and they were just awesome. They rocked so hard, and we were all in the audience for their set just really enjoying it, so check them out if you want some driving, energetic rock n roll.
Simon Also on that note, Greg Laswell, Brandi Carlile…
Isabel Brandi Carlile all the time!
Simon …Blind Pilot, Robert Leslie and Matthew Pinder all have great songs that I’ve heard in the past month.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
Simon Who gets the most ridiculed in the band. And unanimously, all six of us will give you the answer, we won’t communicate with each other… 1, 2, 3…
Dave It’s true. It’s a lovely distinction, I enjoy it very much.
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Simon Cream and sugar.
Dave I don’t drink coffee, so I’m a big blank on that.
Isabel With cream, or soy milk.
Simon There are two guys in this band, who in the process of this band, started to drink their coffee black, and that’s just barbaric. I still can’t wrap my head around it, how crazy it is to drink your coffee black. Just basically give the cream and sugar and skip the coffee.
The Strumbellas new album, Rattlesnake is out now and available to buy and stream in all the usual, including Tidal below.
For more information on the band visit their website, check out their Instagram, or follow them on Twitter.