By Kirsti Salmi
Death country, frontier rock, revival music, call them what you want—Toronto’s Elliott Brood is one of the most beloved live acts to come through Thunder Bay, and they’re bringing their raucous, stomping brand of folk music back to town April 21. The Walleye caught up with the band on the road to Sudbury, chatting with band member Casey Laforet about craft brew, getaway songs, and the first scoop on their new album.
The Walleye: You guys are kicking off the Work and Love Tour at the Northern Ontario Microbrew Festival in Sudbury. Have you got a favourite craft beer? We’re fans of Sleeping Giant.
Casey Laforet: Our buddy in Hamilton has started Clifford Brewing Company, and we’re all big fans of Clifford Porter. I think he’s won gold medals for it already. Most craft brews are I.P.A types, and that’s probably the type of beer the band likes least, so the porter is one of our favs. It’s a coffee porter—I guess that makes it a breakfast beer! Just kidding. It’ll be pretty fun to try different northern Ontario beers at this festival, though.
TW: You’re known for your raucous performances—something tells me your set’s going to go over well at the festival.
CL: We’re a blue-collar band. Great with drinkers!
TW: You mine coming-of-age stories on Work and Love. Leaving childhood behind, becoming an adult, paying taxes, politics, all that stuff. You guys are all fathers now. Were you hoping it’d be something of a love letter to guide your kids as they grow up?
CL: That’s a cool way of looking at it, yeah. It’s that whole thing—don’t grow up too fast. There’s a lot of nostalgia there. I had this awesome childhood, I’d go out at 9 am and not come back till it was dark; I don’t know if that exists for kids anymore. Normally as a band we don’t write very personally; we try to stick to third person story-telling songs. On this one we thought it would be cool to look back a bit.
TW: The North Shore drive to TBay is a long one. What’s on your Trans Canada playlist?
CL: Our favs are always The Sadies, NQ Arbuckle, The Wooden Sky. But recently we’ve switched to podcasts and comedy. Right now we’re into Serial, this whodunnit murder mystery, and the Hardcore History.
TW: Let’s say the OPP tries to pull you over. What’s your getaway song?
CL: Oh man, good question! Probably “Northumberland West,” by The Sadies. Or “Take the Money and Run,” by Steve Miller Band. But truthfully, we’re an old enough band that we’d probably be able to reason with them. Like look, we’re older than you, there’s no cocaine in this car, nothing to see here.
TW: You recorded Work and Love at the Tragically Hip’s Bathhouse Studios over two weeks, often over late nights. That’s pretty immersive. Have you got any anecdotes from the recording sessions?
CL: All of the really cool stuff happened at night. We had a steady supply of red wine so all the creative things happened between one and four in the morning. Neil Young used to do it like that—keep all his band members in the studio til they were just tired enough that magic occurred. We lived there the whole time, it was like a music clubhouse. No stress. Middle of winter, right on Lake Ontario. It was great.
TW: What’s the strangest thing a fan’s thrown onto the stage?
CL: We had one bra way back in the day, and a firecracker in Vancouver. But the best one was a letter. This girl and her graduating class painted the lyrics to one of our songs under a bridge in Canmore, Alberta. She sent a picture of it explaining how they’d bonded over the lyrics. It came at a kind of a low time in my life, so it was really encouraging. I keep it framed in my house.
TW: Here comes the groaner question: what’s next for Elliott Brood?
CL: Actually, we just finished our next record; it’ll be out in autumn. We finished mastering the first single yesterday—it’s called “The Fall,” and it’s going to appear in an episode of CBC’s Bellevue. The album’s called Ghost Garden. We’re debuting some songs on this tour. You guys are the the first to hear all that!
TW: Any fun pre-show rituals?
CL: Mostly we just have a drink beforehand and wish each other luck. We’ve got good friends in Thunder Bay, it tends to get a bit rowdy. The pre-show ritual there is just making sure we get on stage! We have a lot of fun in Thunder Bay.