Volume 92, Issue 86

Thursday, March 11, 1999


Bergmann's success on own terms

Canada's own sexpert takes pleasure chest on the road

Kubrick's quiet genius leaves legacy

Work isn't the only thing that sucks

New sound immigrates into Celtic indie band

New sound immigrates into Celtic indie band

By Anthony Turow
Gazette Staff

In the world of indie music, it's tough for a group to make a name for themselves. Minimal mainstream radio support dictates that the only way to get heard is through constant touring. The Immigrants did just that, plugging away at the touring circuit and performing hundreds of live shows since their inception in 1993 – a tour which brings them to Call The Office tonight.

Their reward was sales of over 5,000 for their 1995 debut CD, In Between Before and After, a Celtic jig venture which turned out to be extremely lucrative for an independent release.

Now they're back with the follow-up, Awkwardly Mobile, which marks a radical departure for the band. Instead of Celtic overtones, the band has adopted a more straight-forward rock sound.

"Did we take a lot of flak for moving from Celtic music?" muses lead singer of the foursome, Peter Zantingh. "Yeah, some people thought we stopped doing Celtic because it wasn't the 'in' thing anymore. But basically, it was a matter of wanting to move on creatively, to focus more on songwriting. I grew up listening to pop music, so it was a natural progression." Zantingh adds it also was a matter of not becoming stagnant.

"With Celtic, it became more playing music for a dance party and it just didn't seem we could take it much farther," he continues. "With these new songs we essentially focused on the songwriting and saw what came out of it."

Awkwardly Mobile definitely contains the stamp of a group who has spent three years honing their musical chops, while trying to move in a different direction. The songs vary from radio friendly rockers such as "Bumbling Steady," to mid-tempo acoustic numbers like "As I Recall," which evokes the same ethereal feel as Led Zeppelin's "Going to California." A far cry from Celtic territory indeed.

Enlisted to help them forge ahead in their new musical direction was producer John Switzer, whose previous credits include working with The Waltons and Jane Siberry. "[John] nudged us into directions we really hadn't gone before," Zantingh says.

"It was really collaborative. He's never had much experience with a rock band, so we kind of nudged him in directions he's never been before either. We each brought something to the table."

What remains the essence of The Immigrants though, are their tightly structured songs. "I don't want to write songs which are political," Zantingh explains. "I want to write songs people can relate to."

Sure enough, beneath the exterior, pensive lyrics dealing with the uncertainties in life permeate through. However, this doesn't mean their live performances are a sombre affair – they're actually quite the opposite.

Zantingh describes their concerts as high energy and acknowledges they still do dip their toes in those crowd pleasing Celtic waters. "We still play about half the songs from In Between Before And After in our show. I still love Celtic music."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999