Chances are you’ve heard a fantastic, catchy song called “Weighty Ghost”. For good reason, this particular track quickly became one of Wintersleep‘s most successful singles. But fast-forward nine years and the alt-rock band’s soon-to-be-released album has the potential to dethrone “Weighty Ghost” in a flash. The Great Detachment, due out on March 4th, was produced by Tony Doogan in their hometown of Halifax. The record has a pure, refreshing aesthetic to it; undoubtedly a direct consequence of the live recording sessions in the studio.
We caught up with guitarist Tim D’Eon over the phone last week where we spoke in detail about the new album, their live show, and the moment where becoming a successful band became a reality. Read on to find out more about The Great Detachment, some of the band’s favourite Montreal spots, and which iconic rock star they collaborated with on their latest release.
CONFRONT: Hello Tim! I just want to start off by saying that I listened to the new album this morning and honestly it’s so great! I have it on repeat already!
Tim: Oh thanks!
CONFRONT: It’s going to be released next week, on March 4th. Is there anything in particular that you hope fans will take away from this particular album?
Tim: Yeah, I mean we ended up doing a lot of the recording live, I am really kind of hoping that that comes across. I don’t know if you noticed it or not, but for me it has this feeling of us all playing together.
CONFRONT: I’m curious, why the title “The Great Detachment”?
Tim: It’s actually a lyric from one of the songs called “Spirit” and it just kind of jumped out. I was listening to the song and I was like “That kind of sums up the album in a weird way.” This is our first record on a new label, Dine Alone Records, and it kind of touches on various themes on the record.
CONFRONT: This is already Wintersleep’s sixth LP! What would you say is the main difference between this one and your previous records? Would you say it is that “live” vibe that you were explaining before?
Tim: Yeah! I mean that’s definitely part of it. It is also the record that we spent the most time making, in recent years anyways. We didn’t have any deadline because we were in between labels and… It’s hard to explain, but I think that is definitely another thing, along with the live aspect.
CONFRONT: Like you mentioned before, this record was two years in the making. Did you ever come across any major setbacks or obstacles either during the songwriting or production process?
Tim: Not really because when we went into it we had a ton of songs already demoed, probably about 30-40 songs I would say, and we kind of started whittling it down from there.
CONFRONT: That mustn’t have been easy!
Tim: *laughs* Well it was hard because you want to make a cohesive album where everything kind of relates to each other, and so you’re just kind of like “Holy cow how are we going to narrow this down!” It’s not like the other songs are throwaways either, but for this record it just felt like these were the best ones to focus on.
CONFRONT: Awesome! You guys collaborated with Rush’s Geddy Lee on the track “Territory” – how exciting was that!? Do you mind telling us a bit about that whole experience?
Tim: Sure! It was kind of a crazy idea. We were in the studio and we were working on that song. The bass line we had was really great, but it was kind of getting in the way of vocals and we just thought maybe it’d be cool to try something completely different. We were kind of joking around and our producer Tony said “Why don’t we just get Geddy Lee” as a joke. And we were like “Woah, why not? Let’s ask somehow!” and we ended up getting through to him and turns out he was kind of a fan of the band already and he had already heard of us. So we sent him the song and he really liked it and said “Sure I’ll do it! I’m away on vacation right now but as soon as I get back I’ll do it!” and he did!
CONFRONT: That’s so amazing! Would you say “Territory” is one of your favourite tracks off this album because of that?
Tim: It is one of my favourites for sure, it always has been. Even before Geddy was on it- but that definitely helps for sure *laughs*. But we did a quick run on the east coast a couple of months ago and we were playing these songs and one of my favourites was probably “Metropolis”.
CONFRONT: That’s a great track! You guys are about to head out on a Canadian tour. For those who have not yet seen you in concert- how would you describe Wintersleep’s live show?
Tim: I mean it’s always kind of evolving and changing, but we always give it 110%. We are always trying to do better every time, trying to put on the best show possible. We try to make it as seamless as possible for the audience because we have a bunch of different tuning. It’s hard to keep the flow going sometimes, but we’ve worked it out now where certain songs work well together in a batch. So we try to keep it moving like that, and we also like to do a bit of improvisation live where we don’t really know what’s going to happen. It keeps it interesting for us and I think it keeps it interesting for the audience.
CONFRONT: I am really looking forward to the Montreal date, it’s going to be a great show! You have had some pretty remarkable accomplishments from winning at the Juno awards to opening for Paul McCartney – was there ever a particular moment in your career where you, personally, thought “Wow, we made it!”?
Tim: Maybe when I was able to quit my other job! *laughs* I think when we realized that we were going to try and give this a go for a while – and this was a long time ago now – for me that was kind of it. Like “Alright this is actually turning into a real job.” We would still be making music anyways but it’s pretty nice to be able to do this for a living. So that was kind of a highlight for me.
CONFRONT: You guys went back to your hometown of Halifax to record The Great Detachment – what would you say are the pros and cons of recording in that city?
Tim: Yeah, I mean for one thing the studio that we use, it’s the same place that we did Welcome To The Night Sky, and we just really love that room. It’s a really nice space, it’s right down close to the waterfront in Halifax. I don’t know, we just feel really at home in that city. We all lived there for many years and the band started there so it’s nice to go back. We were back there in the summer and it’s nice to be by the ocean and go swimming. It’s just really relaxing and a really nice place to record music.
CONFRONT: Much less busy than Montreal I guess!
Tim: *laughs * Yeah it’s funny, we recorded New Inheritors in Montreal and basically we’d spend about two hours in traffic each day on our way to the studio. So that was an extra two hours everyday added onto the 12 hours we would do in the studio…
CONFRONT: Traffic is the story of my life, so I get you! Seeing how you guys have spent a lot of time in Montreal I must ask…what are some of your favourite places in the city?
Tim: Well, I guess I should give these guys a shout out because we go down there a lot but we have a rehearsal space really close to St. Laurent and Bernard, and there’s a place called the Ping Pong Club and we always go down and watch the hockey games.
CONFRONT: Oh fun, I’ve never heard of it!
Tim: Yeah it’s really cool, it’s basically on the corner of Bernard/St. Laurent.
CONFRONT: Any other favourite things to do in Montreal?
Tim: Anything from going up on the mountain to just hanging out in the parks. There’s a place called Triple Crown where you can get your food and put it in picnic baskets. That place is great too. Other than that, I just love summertime in Montreal, hanging out in the parks, grabbing a couple of beers… you just get to hang out and relax!
CONFRONT: Yeah absolutely, it’s a great city in the summer! In the winter, especially the one we are having, not so much!
Tim: Yeah especially since the Canadiens aren’t doing that well…
CONFRONT: Yeah, let’s not talk about that… Well that’s it for us, thank you so much for your time! We will see you at the show March 2nd in Montreal!
Tim: Thank you, sounds great!
Tickets for Wintersleep’s Canadian tour can be purchased now via their official site.
To get a sneak peak of what the album is like, listen to track “Territory” featuring the one and only Geddy Lee:
Make sure to buy your copy of The Great Detachment right here!