The Weakerthans leave trail of sold-out shows

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Weakerthans

OUR HOUSE IS A VERY, VERY, VERY FINE HOUSE. After four years, The Weakerthans have returned with its latest album, Reunion Tour, recorded in a studio atop a Winnipeg factory.

While recording The Weakerthans’ fourth album, Reunion Tour, the band learned to live nocturnally.

Four years after its best-selling record Reconstruction Site, the Winnipeg band finally stepped into a studio, located above a factory, and played through the night.

“First it was different because I was on the outskirts of Winnipeg in the middle of nowhere in the middle of winter,” guitarist Stephen Carroll explains.

The band members’ bat-like schedule began at 4 p.m. and they would record overnight until five, sometimes six, in the morning.

“Our schedules became inverted to the life of the world around us. We’d be driving home from finishing our time in the studio as people were going to work in the mornings. We’d show up in the afternoons and factory workers would be just getting ready to go home and be having their after-work cocktail or beer or something and we’d just be rolling in to start our day.”

The studio, Prairie Recording Co., is owned by The Weakerthans’ longtime travelling soundman, Cam Loeppky, and his friend, Shawn Dealy. The group’s enjoyable experience while doing some tracking in the new studio last December put Prairie Recording at the top of the band’s list.

“[For] Reconstruction Site, we did the whole thing in Toronto, so it was nice to do this record in Winnipeg,” Carroll adds.

Reconstruction Site was a critical success, making it no surprise fans were getting antsy for the next album. The album combined melancholy pop ballads with punk. Lead singer and songwriter, John K. Samson, has the ability to create multi-themed narratives and romanticize the punk-infused ballads.

In Reunion Tour, Samson brings back Virtute the cat from last album’s track, “Plea From a Cat Named Virtute rant from a bored cat neglected by its owner. In the new song, “Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure,” Virtute leaves its owner " as the “half moon whispered, ‘go’” " and waits to be found.

With poetic songs that stain the minds of listeners, Carroll felt a bit of pressure jumpstarting the next record. At least once every three months, someone asked the pressing question.

“I started going, “Oh God, we just gotta put it out, it has to happen.’ The energy just really pushed us to get this thing going in January [because] we weren’t really sure if we were going to have that whole record for that one session when we went in in March and we did, so it was great.

“You know, songs are done when they’re done. You can’t rush them but it’s worth the wait. We bide our time till they’re done,” he says.

Despite four years in between records, Carroll made time to work on a solo project of his own and played his first show last month.

Aside from their musical pursuits, Carroll and Samson’s patriotism extends further through their love of playing the great Canadian sport of curling.

On Sundays, they’d have pick-up curling games with friends and compete against each other.

When asked who’s a better curler, Carroll laughs, looking over his shoulder on the tour bus before he replies.

“That one has to be solved on the ice, doesn’t it? John’s team won a lot of those games but he had a veteran skip and ... he had ringers so I don’t know, we’d have to have a draw-off and see who would get closest to the button.”

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