Virgin Fest: Maritimers show plenty of Eastern promise
For Wintersleep, 2008 was quite an eventful year to say the least.
The indie rock quintet from Halifax finally broke onto Canadian charts with their catchy folk-rock single “Weighty Ghost” off Welcome to the Night Sky. They followed that up with a trip to Calgary where they received an admittedly surprising nod for New Group of the Year, beating out favourites like illScarlett and State of Shock.
“It was pretty shocking that we won that,” says keyboardist/guitarist Tim D’eon in a recent phone interview. “After the Juno it definitely helped us out. People were wanting book us around Canada. It definitely raised our profile a bit.
But the year was completely kind to the group, which consists of D’eon, Paul Murphy on lead vocals and guitar, Mike Bigelow on bass, Loel Campbell on drums and Jon Samuel on backup vocals and guitar.
“Basically we were on tour with Wolf Parade at the time down in the States,” D’eon starts, “we had just done a show in Lousiana, it was a great show . . . to put a damper on things we just went back to the hotel around 2 a.m. to take some showers and then head onto the airport to catch our flight.
“We were only in there 45 minutes and when we came outside we notice one of the doors (to the group’s van) wasn’t closed properly. It didn’t look right and when opened the back there was a whole bunch of gear missing.”
“They got a way with all of our most important gear. So that was a huge bummer.”
To compound the problem, Wintersleep was slated to perform at the inaugural Pemberton Festival in B.C. the next afternoon. However, the resilient easterners, who have been jamming together since 2001, chose to make the best of a bad situation.
“Turned out we got everything we needed,” D’eon said. “We got some guitars from Sam Roberts and a couple other bands in the backline companies there and it worked out. We actually had one of our best shows ever, even though we were completely exhausted; one of my favourite shows I have ever played.”
The stolen gear was never seen again, however, D’eon says the ordeal actually made the group stronger over the long run.
“At first we were kind of freaked out, weren’t sure how it was going to work out because we have certain settings and such,” D’eon said. “But we made the best of it. It was kind of like ‘alright we don’t need our gear to put on a kickass show.’ It definitely felt good.”
Virgin Fest Spotlight
Show: Saturday, Aug. 8 Main Stage @ 6:20 p.m.
For the band’s website click here
Moving forward to 2009, Wintersleep seems destined to continue rising up the Canadian indie-rock ladder. The group opened for Sir Paul McCartney last month in Halifax and will play directly ahead of Pearl Jam on Saturday at Canada Olympic Park as part of Alberta Virgin Fest. D’eon says opening opening for music heavyweights actually weighs less on his nerves than headlining sets.
“At our own shows, we are the main act people are coming to see and we have to make sure we perform as best we can. There’s definitely some pressure in that,” he said.
The Halifax rockers recently released Welcome to the Night Sky overseas and are now bound for a massive tour with The Editors across western Europe — where the band will put on upwards of five shows each week.
“We have definitely been getting a ton of offers from over there, which is great,” D’eon said of the group’s European exposure.
At the same time, Wintersleep’s members never lose sight of their Canadian roots or the music that started their careers. Welcome to the Night Sky was actually the group’s third full-length disc and they have been known to dabble in their older works from time to time to please diehard fans.
“We actually put together a different set list almost every night,” D’eon says. “As we continue to go along and accumulate more songs we are finding it harder and harder to keep track of it all.”
D’eon points out that despite being overwhelmed at times, this little group that could from the Maritimes is nowhere near ready to hang it up. Plans are already underway for a fourth album sometime in 2010 or early 2011.