The Details take chances

Fate. It is a small word but one with big implications. The word itself conjures wide-eyed dreams of what will be, what could be and in retrospect, what might have been.

Ultimately, the decisions that we make every day can help shape our fate in some manner. Some people don’t think twice about decisions they make while others ponder even the smallest of decisions.

Over the course of the past couple of years, Winnipeg indie-pop band The Details has made many decisions that will continue to affect their fate. This isn’t intended to sound as some ominous prophecy about the group’s impending doom though, far from it.

In fact, all is well in The Details world as far as its members are concerned. The group released an infectious record, Lost Art, at the end of May and is currently promoting the effort with a Canadian tour that includes a stop in Moncton on Sunday evening at Plan B Lounge on St. George Street. Show time is set for 8 p.m.

At a time in the not too distant past, The Details were in Austin, Texas, performing during the influential SXSW (South By Southwest) Music Festival. The festival is generally seen as the crème de la crème in terms of the quality of bands fortunate enough to secure themselves a showcase during the festival. In a sweltering parking garage in Austin, The Details had a very chance encounter with one Kim Fowley. For those not familiar with Fowley, he is a legendary figure of sorts in the music business, having worked with the likes of The Runaways, Cat Stevens and Warren Zevon.

On a whim and not really knowing who this stranger was, The Details passed him a promotional package, unaware of the implications that the decision would hold in the days and months that followed.

“The press kit we passed him contained demos for the record that would become Lost Art,” The Details’ Keli Martin begins. “I don’t know why we gave him one; we just thought we would be nice to him. The rest of the band made fun of me for handing off a press kit to a stranger until he started calling us telling us how much he loved the demos. We were blown away that the guy in the parking garage ended up being Kim Fowley who has produced and been a part of some of the greatest moments in rock history.”

With Fowley promising them major label interest, private jets and fancy clothing among many other perks, The Details ended up passing on his offer to help take the band to a “higher level.”

The band would get to that level on its own terms.

Passing up the bright lights of big city USA, The Details recruited The Weakerthans’ Stephen Carroll and The National’s Brandon Reid to sit behind the recording console and set about recording Lost Art in the band’s hometown of Winnipeg.

“We knew that we wanted to make a record that sounded a certain way and achieved a certain subtle intensity,” Martin explains. “With Stephen, we knew he would listen to us and work alongside us to ensure the sound that we were looking for was achieved.

“Brandon came into the picture after having completed The National’s High Violet sessions; it seemed like a completely natural path to pursue for us as we had been listening to a lot of The National during the time we were writing Lost Art. Everything worked out and it was an amazing experience.”

Martin acknowledges that by having chosen the path they did rather than seeing what possibilities could be drummed up with Fowley, the band was able to bring a plethora of guests including Halifax songstress Jenn Grant and Imaginary Cities’ Rusty Matyas into the mix of the recording. Having a say into what shape the final product took was an important decision to the band and one its members do not regret having made.

“It was important for us to make a record with a more natural sound to it than we thought we could achieve with Fowley,” Martin says. “We wanted to be able to have people imagine us playing the songs live the same way they were recorded and were lucky enough to work with a great team that worked closely with us to help make the exact record that we wanted to. Lost Art is a record that we are very proud of but who knows, we may have been proud of the record we would have created with Fowley as well. For now though, that rock and roll legend will be stay in the closet.”

Article published in June 24, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript