It's been nearly 14 years since music fans have been able to get their hands on any new Grapes of Wrath material, but the band is back with its latest album, High Road. Prior to the band's Edmonton show, guitarist and vocalist Kevin Kane answered some questions about it for Vue.
Vue Weekly: How long did it take to make High Road, from the initial songwriting through to the end of the recording?
Kevin Kane: Coming into the record, Tom and I each had songs that were a few years old, from before Grapes had reformed—though we were both working on lyrics as we were recording vocals. As far as the recording goes, we tracked the album in 13 days and then waited for the mixes to be done, which had to go on the back burner because Darryl had Two Hours Traffic scheduled to do their album.
VW: When you were writing the songs, did you come at them in a particular way? Lyrics first? Music first?
KK: Both of us are generally music-first writers.
VW: Where did the lyrics begin for you and what did you want to express with this album?
KK: Neither of us are that pre-planned as far as lyrical statements or messages go. For us, it's about the music. Lyrics often begin with a line that leads to another line and then you kind of figure it out as you go along.
VW: This is the band's first album of new material since Field Trip was released in 2000 and it is the first album to feature all three original band members since These Days was released in 1991. Why did you want to release a new album now? What was the experience like writing and recording with all of the original band members again?
KK: Aporia offered us a deal that made a lot of sense and we thought, why not? It was overall a great experience and felt more like the recording of our first EP than any of our albums: we recorded quickly and were all in the studio for the whole process.
VW: What were the recording sessions like for this album? Is this the kind of thing you recorded live or did you piece it together one track at a time? Why?
KK: The sessions were fairly fast and fun—we had about a day per song so there wasn't a lot of time to waste. We pieced it together, arranging the songs as we went along.
VW: Were there any other songs written that were left off the album?
KK: There were, but as we didn't have time to record extra songs just for the heck of it, we focused on the songs that we felt worked best together to create a cohesive vibe.
VW: How did you decide which songs to include on the album? Did you have an idea of what you wanted High Road to be when you started, or did the finished shape emerge as the writing and recording went along?
KK: We each expressed which songs we thought should go on. There wasn't a master plan before we started working on it. I think we all just shared certain understandings of what the album should have on it: some rock, some acoustic and some other stuff in between.
VW: You worked with Darryl Neudorf to produce the album. What drew you to him and what did he bring to the process?
KK: We all grew up together in Kelowna. In fact, the first time that Chris, Tom and I ever performed in public (at Tom's Grade 7 dance), Darryl was in the band. So our friendship and history had a lot to do with it—even the title is a reference to that: the first place we ever played together was in Chris and Tom's basement on High Road in Kelowna—but also the fact that Darryl is a great guy to work with. I've done a few projects with him over the years, both my own music and as a producer, and he's just a great engineer and mixer.
VW: If you were to trace the musical map that led you to High Road what would it look like?
KK: Like a reverse time lapse map of Pangea. V
Thu, Oct 24 (8 pm)
With The Unfortunates
Avenue Theatre, $20 (advance), $24 (day of show)