Music

Zerbin goes the distance

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It’s been a few years since Zerbin’s infectious single “New Earth” had this city whistling and stomping along. The Edmonton duo has since become a long-distance relationship after singer Jason Zerbin moved to Vancouver Island and guitar player Peter Mol stayed rooted in

Sherwood Park.

“Every time we’d go [to the coast], I’d crave the ocean,” Zerbin says, relaxing in the tour RV heading west from Kingston, ON. “So it felt like time for a change. [On Vancouver Island] you can go on a 15-minute drive and end up at the ocean, or a gorgeous forest or mountain. And it’s provided some really good
coffee roasters.”

If anything, having more than 1200 kilometres of separation has made the band more creative, Zerbin notes. He and Mol both have home studios, and they email snippets and song ideas back and forth. The result of that digital collaboration is their new record Darling, released last month.

The 11 songs are pure sonic joy. There’s a positivity in the music and lyrics that resembles the high-energy, slightly dizzying feeling of a good laugh with friends.  It’s propelled by the drums of Duran Ritz, who recently left the band on good terms. Lead single “Worlds On Fire” is a prime encapsulation of this: “So we danced in a fount of Parisian Merlot / With our head in the clouds / Bodies below in desire / The whole world’s on fire.”

“It tends to come out pretty hopeful and joyful,” Zerbin says. “Oftentimes that comes from a valuation of life that regularly looks the opposite of hopeful or joyful. But songwriting can become therapy and a magic show, where you can create realities in these songs—you bring this joy and lightness into the world.”

As with previous releases, 2010 LP Of Fools and Gold and 2013 EP Touch, Zerbin self-recorded and produced Darling. The difference this time is the band put some of the mixing duties in very talented hands. For the more pop-flavoured tracks, Zerbin tapped LA-based mix engineer Dave Pensado whose past credits include Michael Jackson and Beyoncé. For the more indie-rock songs, the duo entrusted Tom Dobrzanksi of the Zolas, who has worked with Said the Whale and Hey Ocean!

Zerbin says it was “nerve-wracking” handing the songs off, but the band was keen to see how experienced professional mixers would interpret the music. He added Zerbin will likely keep its DIY, self-recorded soul—for now.

“The challenges are you really have to trust your instincts and you don’t have anyone else to blame,” he says. “The benefits are you have the freedom to give the music more time in some areas and craft the sound you want. But I think we would love to work with some great producers in the future.”

Sat, May 23 (8 pm)
With Gay Nineties, Repartee
Pawn Shop, $13

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