“As a musician especially, you should never feel like you’re at some sort of peak,” says Matt Stanley, vocalist and guitarist for Kamloops-based rock group the Decoys. “I think Eric Clapton is probably still learning things about the guitar that he didn’t know or playing in new ways.”
Indeed, artistic or technical growth is a requirement to make headway in creative endeavours, and the band doesn’t appear to shy away from that prospect—particularly in light of shuffling lineups transformed the Decoys from a four-piece to a trio and landed Stanley on double duty as rhythm and lead guitarist.
“I used to have a band a long time ago when I was in high school, and we were a trio, so when I was learning how to play I had to do the same thing,” he says. “It meant changing the way I envisioned the group originally, as far as my position in it as a singer, songwriter, rhythm guitarist, because sometimes back in the old days I would just sing and not play guitar at all on certain songs.”
The Decoys—which formed in 2008 as support for Stanley’s solo EP—has embraced the idea of growth on its new album In Our Blood, the follow-up to the band’s 2011 debut, Stripped, Bare, And On Display. The recording process took place during a state of flux in the band’s membership, with only Stanley and drummer Sean Poissant present on the recording—session musicians were brought in to cover bass and lead guitar at the time, and Stanley notes the band works with different bassists while on tour, though he’d like to see the position permanently filled at some point. Despite this lack of consistency in the band, Stanley feels In Our Blood is a record that showcases an improvement in the Decoys’ songwriting, as well as finding its own style within a breadth of sonic influences.
“We’re a little older, kind of wiser,” he laughs. “I think our vision is becoming a bit more clear: we added in some influences that maybe weren’t as obvious before. We love folk music and we love old country music, and psychedelic music, and I feel we put a lot of that together on this album. It’s definitely the clearest shot of our music at this point, and I imagine as we go we’ll kind of get more and more focused.”
It’s an eclectic mix, but a listener certainly wouldn’t be able to accuse the Decoys of being repetitive. In Our Blood opens with the rock stomper “Don’t Hesitate” before switching gears to some folk-roots twang on the title track, for example. But while there’s an often-juxtaposed melodic quality to the album, the songs are tied together through lyrics reflecting on relatable topics about everyday life.
“I feel like the themes are fairly universal, but it’s definitely pretty personal to us, and kind of for Sean and I especially as far as what our lives are like right now—which is in sort of disarray at times, just being a musician in the 21st century or trying to make it your career,” Stanley explains. “If you take the step to wanting to make it your career there’s a lot of sacrifice that comes with that, and trying to live a normal life can be quite the task. You’ve got to kind of keep tough, but it’s about going out there and trying to get it. ‘Don’t Hesitate’ on the album is basically about that: it’s about not waiting around for luck to walk through the door. It’s about going out there and getting it, or trying to get it, so taking a chance and a leap of faith.”
Thu, Apr 21 (7 pm)
With Redemption Sons
Mercury Room, $10 in advance, $12 at the door