All about Arkells
MRU’s biggest act this year
Mount Royal as a university is just in its growing years, and people are starting to take note that the school is on the cusp of something big.
That kind of attitude is beginning to be represented in the events the campus is attracting.
In an exclusive show, MRU snagged budding Hamilton, Ontario rockers Arkells away from their national tour with the Tragically Hip on Jan. 24. The Reflector caught up with them to talk about what it means to play MRU, their feelings about the NHL and their dream bands to tour with.
The Reflector: It’s really big for Mount Royal to have you play here, since you are touring with the Tragically Hip and you won’t be coming to Calgary on that tour. What brought you to Mount Royal for the night, and what does it mean for you to be back in Calgary?
Arkells: Well, we had the night off, and we love coming to Calgary to play shows, so it made a lot of sense for us to fill in the date. When we found out about this show (with Fields of Green), we were like, “definitely.” With The Hip, we play big places and we play a shorter set, which are all fun things but it’s going to be nice to stretch our legs, play a little longer and play a smaller spot.
TR: How does it feel to be touring with Canadian rock icon The Tragically Hip?
A: It was an honour to be asked to be on the tour, and so far it has been incredible. The reactions from their fans have just been incredible, and we’ve been able to meet a lot of new fans. They’re a great influence, just a good, solid band and they engage the audience in a really meaningful way and we’ve learned a lot from that.
TR: You guys had a really busy year last year, with your North American tour with Lights and your European tour with Billy Talent. How many days do you think you spend at work, whether it be touring or recording or mixing?
A: We haven’t really marked down any days, I guess we’re too busy to notice. But we definitely play at least a couple hundred shows and it felt like last year we were gone nine months of the year. We’re just touring, which is what we do. We get time at home, but for the most part last year we were just playing shows.
TR: The Arkells are notable Hamilton Tiger-Cats fans, going as far as making your last single about them. Your track “Whistleblower” was featured on the NHL 13 soundtrack, how do you guys feel about hockey being back? Is there anyone you cheer for?
A: We don’t have an official team we cheer for, unfortunately there is no Hamilton team. If there was one, we would. I think we’re all just glad we don’t have to hear about hockey lockouts, and every time you turn on sports news, it’s just guys in suits. That was the worst. Now, at least there are awesome hockey highlights and we’re all glad it’s back on. We have a TV on the bus and we’ve been watching all the games.
TR: I might be mistaken, but I believe that the first time you were in Calgary was a few years ago for the Toast ‘n’ Jam festival?
A: I do remember Toast ‘n’ Jam….right that was the first time we were in Calgary.
TR: I think it’s when Calgary became aware of the Arkells most. How has it been between the few years from then to now?
A: I think the one of the more memorable shows we played here was at the Legion, and that was awesome. We’ve played at Flames Central, just a lot of random assortment of venues here in Calgary, but it’s always been a blast.
After you’ve been driving for a long time, especially for us Eastern Canadians, it’s a long drive to get out here and it’s really nice to have a welcoming crowd and that’s always what it’s been like here.
TR: Last summer in Montreal you played an after-party for the Osheaga music festival, and it was a great night of Motown hits. Are there going to be any Motown influences coming up with Arkells, whether on CD on in a show?
A: Yeah, definitely. We learned a lot from playing those songs, they’re deceptively simple and rhythmically they’re starting to make their way into our music and we love breaking into them anytime. It’s just a great feeling. People react to them immediately.
TR: Finally, if you could pick one dream band to tour with, who would it be?
A: The Hip are pretty close! This tour is so Canadian. (There are shouts of “Springsteen!” from the back of the room.) Yeah, Springsteen would be amazing. Radiohead would be pretty cool, just to watch them every night kind of thing. Springsteen would definitely be up there, although I don’t think he has openers anymore unfortunately. (Lead singer) Max (Kerman) saw him last year, and it was a very transformative experience and it would just be great to see all the subtleties of how he can have an entire arena transfixed.
Now that you know a little bit more about the Arkells, make sure you check out Noise 101 to see how their show went!