Canadian indie rock band Current Swell return with their sixth album When To Talk And When To Listen. It wasn’t all easy sailing enlisting Grammy-winning producer Jacquire King (Kings Of Leon, Tom Waits, Norah Jones, Cold War Kids, Of Monsters and Men, James Bay) produced over four weeks in two vastly different locales: Nashville and Vancouver. During the first night at Nashville’s famed Blackbird Studios, King cut short the sessions and told the band to come back when they had something worthwhile to say. A blunt, band-only meet quickly cured what ailed them. The four friends returned the following day ready to create. Dave Lang from the band answered a few questions for Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about making the album.
Another album down, do you feel like you’re old hands at this now?
We are starting to feel like we know what we are doing, which I can tell you we certainly didn’t when we got started. That confidence allows us to take a bit of control within music and production… already can’t wait to do it again.
Is the whole process of making an album easier now or are there the usual challenges to overcome?
There’s always interpersonal challenges within the band to overcome when making a recording. If band members imagined a song a certain way it’s hard to give up control. We had a hard time with the way we made the demos for this record because Scott and I just hid ourselves away for the most part to have more intense writing sessions with less talk and less bullshit… to try to get our vision recorded.
So when we stepped into the studio the rest of the band felt a little slighted because they didn’t attach to the songs before the studio the way we did. That was tough. I’d do it again though.
The album title When To Talk And When To Listen sounds like navigating most relationships. How did that come about?
It’s a title that should get you thinking. The song is more about advice you might get from a parent or advice I might want to pass down to my daughter… it’s not about relationships in a man/ woman type of way but I think it could be interpreted for anyone who loves someone. When my father in law died while my wife was pregnant I got pretty inspired on the topic.
How would you describe the album?
The album has some personal content, it’s got some relevant stories and some themes that are about life- more than travel or seeing then world it’s about life and human connection. It’s also a more “pop” forward record than we have made in the past. We still hold onto many rock/ folk and surf influences but we decided to make a record that could help us spread our music further than the indie scene. That’s part of the reason we wanted to work with Jacquire (producer).
Do you think there’s been much subtle change from album to album?
Yeah album to album we are guilty of going this way and that. There’s always been a folk rock backbone to what we do, whether we add in some blues stuff or some rock stuff or psych stuff or surf stuff depends on the album.
What was it like working with Jacquire King?
He is a seasoned veteran of making records. Being in Nashville and seeing how him and his engineer Lowell Reynolds worked together was in itself amazing. They work fast and focused and you kind of have to get with it or get out of the way type thing. If they say let’s get another take you just do it again. Jacquire was hard on us at first and we appreciated it and brought some really good performances to the table.
You must be thrilled with the traction that It Ain’t Right has received?
We are enjoying it. It’s funny some places in Canada that we have had success in the past (radio) are not spinning it but Canada radio is fucked in my opinion (cancon).
Then we are having all types of worldwide traction with the song in radio and indie spots that’s encouraging because we want to open new places, that was the whole idea of making this album, to spread the word.
Is it mind blowing to know your music is being heard all around the world?
Yeah it’s weird. I remember starting out and there were bands that you could hear somewhere, anywhere. There would be someone in every city everywhere that could relate. Kind of like Cat Empire or something. It’s weird to think we have found ourselves on that path now also.
Are there any tour plans for Australia?
I heard talk about coming over at the end of this year or maybe at the early part of next year. Couple years ago when Pete noble told me that “brads song” was the best song he’s ever heard I was like, WOW! ok I think we might be welcome back to Bluesfest and Australia anytime… now we gotta make it happen in the schedule between Europe/ Brasil/ US/ Canada.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Current Swell’s album When To Talk And When To Listen is out now…