The first few listens of Rough Hand’s debut EP Out Of The Dark sounds like a heaping portion of indie-rock self-doubt. But there is a defiance to it. It’s rockin’. It’s fun but it is also not all good time jams.
Luke Tremblett has some darker thoughts to counter his hooky melodies and poppy rhythms. It says “I have my concerns but I’m gonna do it anyway.” It’s deceptively ballsy. Self-doubt weaved throughout the text. Confidence in the presentation. It’s romantically sombre but like the way one might feel before they pick themselves up and go out dancing to shake off the week. I had a chat with Luke to get the inside scoop on the new EP.
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Solo artists using band monikers is not exactly a common place thing but there are a few notables. Why did you become Rough Hands and not be Luke Tremblett? Is there a duality at play? Is Luke Tremblett a different person from Rough Hands?

Rough Hands is my music project, where I can channel a certain type of energy into playing and writing; I show people a special side of me that doesn’t get communicated the same through using Luke Tremblett. More than anything, it gives me the freedom to create, from the ground up, the foundation of the structure being the name Rough Hands.

Right out of the gate Hurry Hurry seems to be a call to rush, to get “out of here”. Where is here and why are you gunning to get out?

Hurry Hurry is the opposite. Before the last refrain, there’s a question to the listeners being “whats the hurry?”. It seems everyone around me has always correlated personal growth with environmental change – and while I agree that can help I can’t seem to find why everyone would rush to grow up. I spend my time enjoying what I can with my friends because I know at some point I’ll have to let go of the joyful stagnation that is being young(er). I’m really in no rush to do that. Your question is exactly what I wonder about everyone else, what’s the big rush everyone’s in, what’s everyone chasing? Happiness is a day by day goal, not one that you must chase your whole life constantly being unsure you’ll ever meet it. 

The album art has the theme of a night sky silhouette. Like the lyrical content, it seems to suggest a sort of ambiguity. This night could go either way. The album is filled with uncertainty. So tell us, which way is the night going to go?

I chose that artwork solely for the way I felt it matched the music. I was lucky enough to have my new Italian friend Vincentiu Solomon let me use his photography for the cover. Moments like the beginning of Hurry Hurry and the bridge in Well Enough created a floating feeling in my chest, and that picture did the same. It encompasses that moment I want everyone to value; being able to sit back and appreciate the moment you’re in, the same way you do when taking in the unshaped beauty of nature, because chances are you’ll never experience that same moment again. 

Music writers write what they hear. But artists have their own vision of what it is they are working to be. What does this album sound like to you? What did you want it to be? And do you feel you hit the mark or is there still work to be done?

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I wrote all these songs as a singer/song writer, hoping that they would flourish with some studio work which is exactly what happened in my eyes. I wrote them to try and entertain an audience as a solo act, so when we added other elements of a rock band it pushed the music in the direction I had envisioned. During the demo days, our most important experience was pre-production. We had recorded a song that isn’t currently released, and this was my first attempt at morphing a song from barebones to full arrangement. I was unsatisfied with the sounds, and despite the parts I loved about it, it sounded nothing like Rough Hands to me. This demo gave me the kind of push I needed before recording the first release, it opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t want to do. Being able to compare how I feel now when listening to the release vs. how I felt listening to that demo is the reason I’m confident in the work done on Out of the Dark. The recordings captured the music how I wanted them to. 

You recorded the album in Toronto produced by Greg Giesbrecht (July Talk, Repartee) and hometown hero/ex-pat Robbie Brett (Repartee) with some of the Repartee guys as the backing band. So… Why Toronto? 

Toronto just happened to be the spot that I had access to Greg who has worked on both JUNO award winning and nominated projects, where I could have Robbie play on my album and also produce it, where Josh Banfield could play bass and do some engineering, and where Nick Coultas-Clarke could play drums. We did some in-province work when everyone was home and that went so well that I followed them up to Toronto to give this project the time and work it deserved. Having the opportunity to work with a team like that isn’t something that anyone can afford to turn down in my opinion. A short answer to “Why Toronto?” is that it’s all about the people who happen to be there. 

What is next for Rough Hands? 

Getting in front of some new faces and keep having fun. It’s a great feeling to have a CD out and to be getting positive feedback from that, it’s a good motivator to keep creating. We’re planning events at less conventional venues for the summer which details will be released about as they draw near.