After eight years of touring and thousands of kilometres logged, what's 3000 more? Folk collective the Fugitives (led by singer-songwriter team Brendan McLeod and Adrian Glynn) had just wrapped up its time on the road, but the chance to record with producer John Critchley meant it was time to pile back into the van and head from Vancouver to Toronto. Prior to a gig in Edmonton, McLeod told Vue about the making of Everything Will Happen.
Vue Weekly: How long did it take to make Everything Will Happen, from the initial songwriting through to the end of the recording?
brendan mcleod: The recording took about six weeks. The writing of it happened sporadically over a couple of years. It was an interesting process in that we'd always written as a four piece, and for this album we honed it down to two songwriters. So there was a lot more pressure on the two of us, but also a lot more freedom to be personal.
VW: When you were writing the songs, did you come at them in a particular way? Lyrics first? Music first?
BM: All over the map. Sometimes one of us had a bunch of lyrics that the other would put to music. Often one person had a melody and the other person wrote the lyrics. Sometimes one of us would write a bridge and the other would write the verses and choruses. It was completely collaborative in that sense. With a few exceptions, these are pretty full-spirited co-writes.
VW: Where did the lyrics begin for you and what did you want to express with this album?
BM: This isn't a conceptual record. We didn't set out to write a suite of songs around one topic, so each song is a story unto itself with its own voice. At the end of it, we took a step back and found a lot of the songs had a pretty triumphant tone to them, a sort of “We're all gonna die and things are gonna be rough until then sometimes, but life is generally pretty sweet” feel to them.
VW: What were the recording sessions like for this album?
BM: It was not an off-the-floor kind of record. In the studio, we bring the songs to the folk collective we've built around us—a mishmash of 12 or so different players who lend their unique talents—and have them into the studio one by one to have them add layers to the song. It was a great collaborative process. We wrote a lot of the melody lines for the support instruments, but often they'd bring their own ideas, which always is great for breathing new life into the material.
VW: Were there any other songs written that were left off the album?
BM: Oh, yeah. We had a few clunkers we left off and a few we really liked that just didn't suit. Maybe they'll see the light of day at another time; maybe they'll die—probably they'll die.
VW: Did you have an idea of what you wanted Everything Will Happen to be when you started, or did the finished shape emerge as the writing and recording went along?
BM: We had a sense going in that we wanted a record that used traditional folk instrumentation but had a bit of a bigger sound and fuller presentation to it. We wanted a big rhythm section sound and John, the producer, did a great job capturing that.
VW: What drew you to John Critchley as producer and what did he bring to the process?
BM: We just loved the sound he'd been getting out of artists like Dan Mangan and Elliott Brood and Amelia Curran. He gets a really pristine, full sound, but totally avoids being cheesy or too glossy. We're really happy with the work he did. He's super diligent, and there were times he asked for take after take after take and we'd be like, “This guy is some sort of producer super soldier, what the hell?” but we heard the sounds he was getting and just put our heads down and followed his lead.
VW: If you were to trace the musical map that led you to Everything Will Happen what would it look like?
BM: As far as influences go, I think the map reads something like: Amelia Curran to Elbow to the Pogues to Little Dragon to Saul Williams to David Francey to church to the graveyard to the hospital and then back to the bar. V
Sun, Nov 1 (7 pm)
With White Ash Falls
Artery, $10 (advance), $12 (door)