A lively album of straightforward rock hooks and singalong songs in the same vein and swagger as a Stephen Malkmus song or vintage Dinosaur Jr. album — or any other modern indie rock outfit steeped heavily in everything great about 90’s alt rock. The album is also coloured by the beat-driven feel of 70s-era classic rock. Connect Four, not quite three months old, is at Fred’s music, and waiting for you.
If I made you pick a favourite song off the album, which would you pick? Any reason why?
I might pick “Lotta Lovin.” I feel like the vocal has a great energy and rawness, and I like the simplicity of the song; it’s a bit of a homage to The Troggs. I feel too like it expresses the straightforward, pared down feel we were going for with the album.
And if I let you pick another favourite?
“Ridin’ on the Streetcar” has got a great beat, fun & edgy lyrics, and Steve layed down an amazing drum take. I love New York punk and that song has that vibe. We often close our shows with it, and it’s got a fun sing-along ending.
Is there a song on here that’s a little different for you, or that you questioned including?
We weren’t sure about “Introduce Me” at first. We just did it at the end of the studio session at Tommy’s suggestion, with no click track. But I really like how it turned out, bit of a Pixies vibe and Len did some nice things with delay in the production.
Which one of these songs came out the hardest or was the longest in the crafting? Why?
“Set Me Free” was hardest to mix, because we did quite a few volume changes in different sections, and Marc recorded multiple layers of feedback and other silly things like tipping his tube amp over to make the crashing noise before the ending. I’m really happy with the psychedelic feel that we were able to get out of it in the end though.
Share a random fact about one of your songs on this album, or the album itself.
The title of “Against the Tide” was apparently subconsciously taken from the book my Dad wrote of the same title, about his battle against the status quo when he worked for government. I think we all need to go against the mainstream or even the alternative stream when necessary and just be ourselves, hard though that is.
Name one influence on your approach to songwriting – whether it be a musician or a goal you have in crafting a song.
Paul McCartney wrote great pop songs but with a real soulful feeling to them. That’s my goal – to write something that’s catchy and easy to relate to, but that I feel deeply and honestly too. That’s the combination that really connects with people, I think.
What’s a new album you’ve been loving lately?
The last album I bought is The Modern Lovers’ self-titled debut (from 1973 so I guess not exactly “new”). It’s refreshing – joyful, honest rock ‘n roll with a charming innocence to it. The sound is a lot like The Velvet Underground, but instead of singing about drugs and femmes fatales, Richmond sings proudly about how he’s straight (i.e. sober), and wants a girlfriend instead of meaningless one-night stands. That might sound conservative but I think it’s brave.
And if I lit your album collection on fire, what’s one album you’d think to save first?
Probably Revolver by The Beatles. Possibly for sentimental value because my mom bought it in 1966, or because it’s in mono and worth $200. That can buy a lot of cheese.
There are many ways to evaluate a song. But for you, what’s one trait that makes a great song a great song? Name a song you love that fits that bill.
Yeah you’re right, and there are so many types of songs! As a rock musician I think the beat is really important, and I don’t know exactly how to define that. People talk about the Motown beat though, and all those Motown hits were built around that driving beat. Right now though, for some reason, I’m thinking of the song “Absolutely Sweet Marie” by Bob Dylan, off Blonde on Blonde. It’s got a fantastic beat, and of course amazing lyrics, melody and arrangement.
Other than music, name something else you love.
Nature. I love the Newfoundland wilderness, and am often hiking or camping either on the east coast trail, or off trail. I also surf (I can tell you where I go but I may have to kill you). We’re lucky to live here.