Slow Down, Molasses ever evolving

From the flat prairies of Saskatchewan comes Slow Down, Molasses, a band with a sound that creates the perfect soundtrack to the barren surroundings they call home.

With influences including Neil Young heard in its songs, the band has a brand new record, Walk Into The Sea, out now and to celebrate the release of its newest opus, the band is touring across Canada.

Slow Down, Molasses will be performing with Sackville’s Shotgun Jimmie at the Royal Canadian Legion, located at 15 Lorne St., Sackville tomorrow night. The show starts at 8 p.m.

Like countless bands before them, the members of Slow Down, Molasses juggle their moonlighting in music while holding down day jobs, in addition to the responsibilities of being husbands, having children and other worldly “adult” commitments.

Band leader Tyson McShane admits that the topsy-turvy nature of their lives outside of the band has seen the band evolve in a few different ways.

“Our live shows tend to be an ever-evolving affair,” Tyson starts. “We have eight people who are regularly in the band and at this point there are another half dozen that have played shows with us. So despite everyone being super busy, we have a few options for what kind of line up performs. When we tour though, our lineup is pared down to six or seven of us, but in Saskatoon we have played shows with up to 12 people on stage.

“Being in the band is like an open enough relationship that people are OK with different line-ups of the band existing for touring and for local shows.”

Despite a seemingly constant flow of people coming and going from the band, McShane says that the unity of having played live shows in support of their debut helped give the band a leg up when it came to the making of Walk Into The Sea. Asked how the group has evolved, Tyson notes a couple of different things.

“A big change between our debut and newest record was just how much we had played live and how consistent our line-up became. Before our debut, Old Believer came out, there was really only a few of us involved in writing and arranging the songs, but we had brought some friends in to help out. A lot of the people who played on our debut ended up becoming regular members of the band, and with a more consistent line up, the process of songwriting became much more focused.

“Another big change was the sound of the band,” Tyson continues. “I really felt the need to move more towards bigger guitar sounds and more textured, ambient soundscapes. With the last record we tended to get lumped in with a more of a folk-country sound than what we were playing at the time. I love a lot of country music, but at this point I’d rather be lumped in with post-rock or psych bands than country bands. This album reflects a pretty deliberate move to include more space for droning guitars and layers of ambient sounds.”

The group’s latest record not only sees it expanding the scope of its sound but also features a vocal contribution from Moncton native Julie Doiron. You can tell that her taking the time to lend her vocals to the project is an immense source of pride and accomplishment for McShane, who has followed her work since her days in indie-rock band Eric’s Trip.

“Julie has been a constant inspiration for me for years, from her time in Eric’s Trip right up to her most recent work. We had the opportunity to open for her on a couple of occasions and got to know her pretty well. At one point, we had meekly asked her if she would be up for singing on one of our tracks. When we were making our newest record, Julie was in town as a part of Gord Downie’s band and had the time available to stop by the studio. It was pretty surreal to hear someone whose voice I’ve listened to for years singing words I wrote.”

Article published in March 25, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript