Constantines on Their Break-up, Re-union Tour, and Show in St. John’s Tonight

"We're all so incredibly touched and grateful that there's been people that have remembered this band and this music, and kept it with them, and have wanted to see us play again." - Steve Lambke

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No stranger to St. John’s, yet scarcely seen by anyone since disbanding in 2010, Ontario’s epic art rockers, Constantines, will take the stage tonight at The Rockhouse, courtesy of MightyPop.

The band disbanded in 2010, after eleven years worth of wild live shows and acclaimed albums. These days, Bryan Webb, Steve Lambke, and Will Kidman of The Cons are playing much more quiet and subdued tunes under the respective solo monikers of Bry Webb, Baby Eagle, and Wolly Leaves.

Luckily, the band has reunited for a tour, while simultaneously re-releasing their second album (and Sub Pop debut) Shine a Light. Aging St. John’s showgoers still talk about the time this band dropped jaws at Junctions and Club One … two bars that don’t even exist anymore. If you were too young for all that, trust your Facebook feeds and don’t miss the show tonight.

Here’s a song off Shine a Light, “Night Time/Any Time (It’s Alright)”

What marks the band is the fact that their sound – feral and bursting with gruff-voiced life – is truly their own, so much so that it has never been replicated by their many, many admirers, which can only mean one thing: we still don’t know how they did. Canada’s other famed sound-pioneering bands of the 2000s, like Arcade Fire or The New Pornographers, have certainly been replicated with much success, but no one can mimic, verbatim, what made the Cons the band they were.

Thanks to Steve Lambke of the band for the chat below:

What caused the 2010 break-up anyway? Was it burn-out, or just changing creative paths for band members?

I think we took it as far as we could at the time. We’d toured Kensington Heights for a year or two, we had played a run of amazing 10th anniversary shows, and when it came time to talk about what to do next or how to continue, there was just a general feeling of not being up for it.

There was the pull of life outside the band that we had all lived and worked and sheltered in for our twenties, there was maybe some curiousity at playing music in other contexts, there was some simple exhaustion from working at it so long and touring so much and always being sick.

There was no big specific reason, and lots of small vague little reasons why it didn’t feel right to continue at the time. It was ultimately a good and necessary decision, though I’m sure we all suffered some deep confusion at the time.

Why the reunion, and why now? To promote the re-release of Shine a Light?

I’m actually having trouble remembering which came first, the idea for the re-issue or the idea to play again, but we all missed playing together, and we missed working together, and hanging out. We missed playing this music.

It just felt like the right time for us all to revisit this collaboration. It hadn’t felt like that before, in the time since we stopped playing. But it felt like that this year.

We’re all so incredibly touched and grateful that there’s been people that have remembered this band and this music, and kept it with them, and have wanted to see us play again. It’s been very moving, and it’s also been a total blast.

I know it’s not an extensive re-union tour. What made St. John’s a spot you included on the tour?

I always have loved playing in St. John’s, and loved visiting the city. One of our earliest tours was to St. John’s with Royal City.

I have vivid and romantic memories of taking the ferry and the long drive from Port-Aux-Basques in our rickety old van. I’m super happy there are people in St. John’s that were interested in bringing us back and making this show happen.

After more than a decade together, what are a few songs the band still loves to play live? Any reason?

Playing live with this band has always been a trip; there’s an energy and a chemistry with the 5 of us that is unique in my musical life. It’s a deeply powerful feeling for me. It’s also just a straight up joy to watch Doug play the drums, to hear Dallas rip into the bass, to hear Bry screaming for all of us, to hear Will man-handle the keyboards.

It’s not even really the individual songs, it’s just the whole thing. But going back into it, there actually is a lot of really great songs that remain completely fun and challenging and engaging to play.

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