While out in the decidedly colder climates of Toronto recently, we managed to link up with Tasmanian group, Heart Beach. One of the local Aussie highlights of this year’s Canadian Music Week, the band filled us in on their time in the city and what their plans are for moving the band forward in 2017.
Welcome to Canadian Music Week; you’ve been touring around the country for the last few months and now you have here back with a bunch of Australians and amongst fellow musicians from around the world. What has been your take away so far from this conference and festival?
Claire: The festival seems to be full of people who love music and there is a real energy to it. I think that is complemented by the sun being out when I arrived in Toronto, it seems like a really big, bustling city but there’s this real sense of community as well so it’s been fantastic hearing some of the keynote speakers and meeting some of the industry people but I’ve also really enjoyed meeting the other Aussies and some who I knew before and so catching up with old friends and meeting new friends as well and just even hearing the sounds of their voices has made me feel really happy.
And there is another Tasmanian band here as well, which is an incredible rarity.
Claire: Yeah, we feel the Tassie pride on that one for sure. (Laughs) So yeah, Sammy J from Quivers is an old friend of mine and Jon’s and we know about the members of the band too. We played so many shows at home together, so to be in Canada playing shows and about to do some dates in the East after Canada Music Week is a real treat.
Indeed, you are not stopping any time soon over here. How long are you staying in Canada for?
Claire: We all have working visas for a couple of years and the idea, it was the last year that Jon and I could get working visas because sometimes you know, you get older and we just wanted to come to Canada to be closer to North America, or the US and Europe so we could tour as much as possible. The aim is to be here and we’ve got tours lined up in Canada basically for the rest of the summer. We are hoping to get into the US about August/September and at least tour along sort of Kansas, Detroit, Chicago to New York, Pittsburgh sort of area and then we will be back in Australia in December for the summer festival season. Try to play as much as we can and maybe miss out on some of the Canadian snow.
You would have had a little taste of that already you know, it’s not like you come from the warmest place in Australia, though.
Claire: No. (Laughs)
But I mean, the weather in Canada is a very different beast.
Oh, it’s a whole different cup of tea. I’m not sure how you found it, does it snow in Dundee, Jack?
Jack: We get snow maybe one or two weeks a year, but never on the scale that it was in Vancouver. It’s usually kind of there then it’s gone whereas it was pretty persistent in Vancouver.
Claire: When I arrived in Vancouver it was snowing and everyone said, “Oh it never snows in Vancouver,” they weren’t prepared for it so everything shut down; buses were sliding off the road.
Jack: Schools closed.
For a city where it does snow every year…
Jack: Very unprepared.
They’re very unprepared.
Claire: There was this news story about there being a riot over the rock salt. People had gone to get rock salt but there wasn’t enough of it and then they just started getting really angry, which is not really in the Canadian personality per sé, but it got a little tense there for a while.
So for those playing at home, the rock salt melts the snow. So if you are every in a city like New York or Chicago or Boston or Toronto you will notice lots of salt lining the streets in places where the snow was the morning after a big storm.
Claire: Yeah totally, to melt the ice so it doesn’t all compact and all of that. I mean, we found this great practice space called Pandora’s, sort of in the North of downtown Vancouver. We would go there but a couple of times; we trekked out there in full blizzard conditions with our amps and guitars on our backs! It was an experience and I really enjoyed it. The novelty hasn’t quite worn off yet.
So tell me, what was sort of the determining factor to come over here, to Canada. Why Canada and why not the UK? Or Europe? Or what brought you here? Did it come down to the ease of the working visa for under 30’s?
Claire: Yeah, that was a big reason in Canada’s favour. I was joking with Jon 24 hours after he put his application in he got an email to say, “You have been accepted, come to Canada,” and you know ,Canada’s calling like, ‘How soon can you get here?” (Laughs) It was really easy to get that option to get the visa.
We wanted to be close to get to the US, that was the main reason, but the US visa itself is really hard and really expensive so this was the second best thing and economically, far more viable. I had been to Montreal a couple of years ago and I really, really liked it; I’ve got a lot of bands that I really like from Montreal, so our next stop in May is to live in Montreal for a while. We all wanted to have a go at learning French, so that was another reason but I feel like our sound will fit in well in the Montreal scene and we’ll learn from those guys, hopefully, about how is the best way to tour into the US and try to make some contacts that way.
You are a couple hour drive from Burlington, Vermont which is a great city. I have done that drive from Montreal down there. It’s a good way to enter the US. So you released the album, you did a few shows at home and now you are over here, how have you found the release of the album to kind of be? To have gone I guess, you know six months later now and you’ve finally got that out into the world.
Claire: Yeah certainly, so we released “Kiss Your Face” in November with Spunk Records and that was fantastic, really enjoyed working with them and still working with them. We did a sort of brief Australian tour of that and played in Hobart a bunch of times late last year and the nice thing about being here is how the album’s been received. I think the, even the sounds of our voices, there’s just a little bit different.
We certainly found in Vancouver, the music is a little grittier maybe or harsher, it has a little bit more edge to the type or style of music that is commonly being played there so we found it’s gone down really well. We were able to bring some of our records over and they have sold really well on tours so it’s nice it feels like six months in.
Jack: Been accepted quite well, hasn’t it.
Claire: Yeah exactly, it’s still like living and growing almost so that’s been a real pleasure to be able to present it to this new audience.
Musically what’s next for you? I mean is there, are you looking to kind of, are you writing while you are over here? Are you finding people to collaborate with? Is that kind of part of the plan while you are here as well, to actually make some music?
Claire: Yes certainly; we have already written a number of tracks and recorded with a small recording company called Honey Pomelo, Honey Pomelo Forever in Vancouver so we’ve done two tracks with them. Hoping to release one mid year and just preparing as much material as we can so we can then present the best of that in the next album. I’m not sure when that will be exactly but one of the main things has been meeting Jack.
We left Christopher Wessing at home and we also left our reel to reel tape machine at home which used to play our beats, so was our drummer for many years. It actually broke on the final show of our Australian tour so it was perfect timing in a way but Jon and I were at an instore record shop show in Vancouver and we ran into Jack and he said, “Oh you know, I play drums in a bunch of bands; I’ve been going to a practice space just to have a play on my own,” It’s worked out really well, so having a live drummer in the band has shifted the sound again and certainly [made it] easier to tour and I think your input, Jack, will make the new record something else again.
Fantastic well I hope everything goes well for you guys over here.
Claire: Thanks Larry.
Other side of the globe but also not very far like you know, it sort of feels very much like home here in Canada, I’ve always felt.
Claire: It does, when I call my mum sometimes she says, “I can’t believe like you sound like you are just down the street,” but now we have Whatsapp and all of that, it’s not like it was 20 years ago or you know… we are so contactable. We are able to keep in touch with home so closely so I miss it but it’s fun to be here.
Photo by Keiran Sullivan.