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HARD FACTS on Near To The Wild Heart Of Life by Brian King (October 24, 2016)
2012-2013: DEATH BY TOURING
Our second album, Celebration Rock, was released on June 5, 2012. In support of that album, we embarked on what seemed like an endless world tour. The so-called "Celebration Rock Tour" began on March 8, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and would continue, through heaven and hell, for nearly two full years. On November 10, 2013, after performing over 200 shows in over 40 countries, we played our final show in support of Celebration Rock in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We would not perform live again for three years.
2014: FROM STAGE TO PAGE
Having finally freed ourselves from the tentacles of touring, we decided to take the first half of 2014 off in order to rest and recover from the road. During this time, I moved from Vancouver to Toronto (and later, Mexico City), redefining our notion of 'home' and totally transforming the way we write/work. In the fall of 2014, we reconvened in New Orleans, renting a house where we could both stay and play while immersing ourselves in the sights and sounds of one of our favourite cities. As a slow and steady schedule of writing/rehearsing in Vancouver was no longer possible, we would spend the next year writing/rehearsing in similarly short and sporadic sessions together, always alternating between the handful of cities we now call (collectively) home.
2015-2016: THE DIFFICULT THIRD ALBUM
Our third album, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, was written clandestinely throughout 2014 and 2015 in Vancouver, Toronto, New Orleans, and Mexico City.
It was (mostly) recorded by Jesse Gander (who had previously recorded both Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock) at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, BC (September-November, 2015). One song, True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will, was recorded by Damian Taylor during an exploratory recording session at Golden Ratio in Montreal, QC (February, 2015). The album was mixed by Peter Katis at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, CT (May, 2016) and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound in New York, NY (July, 2016).
Like Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock, the album is 8 songs. This is because 8 songs is the standard template for a great rock n roll album: Raw Power by The Stooges, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen, Marquee Moon by Television, IV by Led Zeppelin, Horses by Patti Smith, Paranoid by Black Sabbath, Remain In Light by Talking Heads, Master Of Puppets by Metallica, etc.
Like Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock, the album was sequenced specifically for the LP. On Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, side A (songs 1-4) and side B (songs 5-7) each follow their own loose narrative. Taken together as one, they form an even looser narrative, with the final song on side B (song 8) acting as an epilogue. Keen observers may also notice sequencing similarities to Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones.
IDEAS, DREAMS, AND EXPERIENCES
The title, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, comes from a passage in the novel A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce:
"He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life."
While reading Near To The Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector, I was inspired to try and write a song that mimicked both the style and structure of the novel, somehow hoping to retain what I could of the tone and themes, while at the same time incorporating my own ideas and experiences. Sometime later, in an obsessive bid to learn as much as I could about Clarice Lispector, I discovered that she had borrowed the title of her novel from Joyce's novel, and upon reading his novel, I was only inspired further and rewrote the song in an attempt to incorporate aspects of both novels. And although I would eventually abandon this idea in favour of my own account of awakening, the indirect influence of both novels (and in particular that passage) remained both intact and undeniable. Accordingly, we named the song Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.
Sometime later, and in spite of the fact that naming an album after it's first song (and/or first single) had long fallen out of fashion, we named the album Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.
In 2006, we recorded our first EP, All Lies, using a simple strategy: to try, as best as we could, to recreate the raw energy and reckless abandon of our live show in the studio. In the years that followed, we would record another EP, an album, and several singles - always refining (but never wavering from) that same simple strategy.
In 2011, we recorded our second album, and in spite of its imperfections, felt like we had finally captured whatever it was that we'd long been chasing. Since then, we've been in search of a new strategy. If Celebration Rock was the culmination of something, then Near To The Wild Heart Of Life can be considered the beginning of something else.
OF PARTICULAR INFLUENCE
Lyrically, this album was heavily influenced by both Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt, as they were the two artists that I listened to the most during the past few years, and whose sense of storytelling I tried to emulate in my own songwriting.
Musically, this album was heavily influenced by The National, so much so that we asked Peter Katis to mix it. Luckily, he said yes.