A cracking band based out of the Rocky Mountains…
is not something you hear a lot of people say! That all changes when you encounter Northern Quarter and dig deep into their music. I have been speaking with the guys about their latest E.P., Cold Dark Night, and the kind of themes that influenced it – they select their favourite cuts.
I discover how the band got together and whether there are any tour dates booked in the diary; if there might be further material this year; what their favourite memories from music are – the guys each select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, Northern Quarter. How are you? How has your week been?
We’ve had an amazing week! The band has only just started to dip its toes into the wonderful world of original music after playing mostly covers for about a year. It is opening doors for us that we didn’t even dream of, like radio sessions and newspaper interviews; plus, the E.P. is going to be launched on Friday and we couldn’t be more excited or proud!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We’re a one-year-old half-Canadian, half-British band based in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta in a gorgeous town called Canmore. It’s probably one of the most beautiful places on Earth and we are lucky enough to call it home. There are four of us: Kerry Hunter on vocals, Carlos Nadeau on guitar; Wendy Crewe on bass and Dave Crewe on drums and samples. Dave is also the producer of the E.P. and manager of the band.
Cold Dark Night is your E.P. What sort of themes and stories inspired the songwriting?
Two of the songs (Fort Mac Anthem and Boomtown Blues) are written about Kerry’s hometown, Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta…basically, the lyrics are about growing up in a boomtown and having little to do but drink, laugh and sing with friends.
There’s also the usual themes of love lost (particularly in Dave’s songs, Here We Go and Don’t Leave My Side) but, also, there are bright spots of optimism about travel (Searching for Freedom) and making life-changing decisions (Every Second Counts).
Is there a cut from the E.P. you would select as a highlight?
Searching for Freedom is likely the band favourite. It was the first song that Kerry ever wrote and was a straightforward acoustic song but ended up totally transformed into an altogether different beast by the band.
How did Northern Quarter get together? As a half-British, half-Canadian band; are there a lot of cultural differences in the ranks?
Dave, Carlos and Wendy had already been in cover bands together for about three years. In the search for a new singer, they spotted Kerry at an open mic and, by happy chance, got an excellent songwriter and vocalist wrapped up in one. Culturally, things are interesting but the Brits have been in Canada for nine years now so they’re pretty much Canadian - apart from the accents.
They go back every year, though, because there’s still a love for the homeland. The biggest thing that looks like a cultural clash is when the Brits suggest a song to the Canucks who are all like: ‘Over and Over?! Hot Chip?! What the hell is this?!’ We cover it, anyway.
Will there be more music from you guys down the line?
Definitely! We’ve already got another three or four songs ready to play live and we are writing new ones all the time.
Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?
We’re mostly spending the summer moving around the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia (tough life, eh?). Expect to see us in Panorama, Revelstoke; Waterton, Banff and, of course, Canmore.
Are British dates a possibility at all? Can we see you over here?
We’d love that! We’d need a lot more money than we have now though…I wouldn’t rule it out, but we haven’t planned anything yet.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Write more songs, play live more - because that is the BEST thing – and, hopefully, get as many people to hear us as possible. We’ve got a supremely unique gig coming up playing the top deck of a converted London bus on Canada Day, so we’re extremely excited about that.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Dave: For me, it was Kerry’s face lighting up the first time all of us played one of her songs. She’d never been in a band before and had only played her own songs on an acoustic guitar, so seeing her experience that was heart-warming.
Kerry: We played a venue called The Drake a couple months ago…the dancefloor was totally full and everyone was singing along the with last few songs looking incredibly stoked!
Carlos: About two years ago, I played at the Bighorn Symposium right here in Canmore…it was a stunning sunny day; we were on the wonderful Stan Rodgers Stage; my family and all my friends were there…it was just the best time.
Wendy: In a former band, our saxophonist punched a member of the audience for (accidentally) knocking a microphone stand into his sax. Good times.
As you are half-Canadian and half-British; if you could create a mythical beast of a celebrity, half-British and half-Canadian; who would be part of it (you can choose politicians and literary figures, too)?
Probably Michael Buble/Shaun Ryder. I have no idea why but it sounds like an amazing gig.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Fleetwood Mac. We’d want Perrier water with all the bubbles taken out.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Never stop. Never stop writing, never stop gigging; never stop making your sound and presentation the best it can possibly be.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
None of us is full-time at music (yet) so most time is spent working, unfortunately. Dave and Carlos are gamers; Kerry likes growing things. All of us are snowboarders in the winter: it’s virtually compulsory here.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Kerry: Pain and Misery by The Teskey Brothers
Dave: Great Expectations by Elbow
Carlos: Riviera Paradise by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Wendy: I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses
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