Ever since their inception shortly after the turn of the century, long before they opened for former Beatle Paul McCartney in Halifax in 2009, Montreal via Halifax group Wintersleep began engaging in a long love affair with the City of Moncton.
In the time following the release of their self-titled debut record in 2003, the group could routinely be found performing at the long-defunct Paramount Lounge in downtown.
Wintersleep drummer Loel Campbell estimates the group played the venue upwards of a dozen times before being forced – in a good way – to begin performing at larger venues to accommodate their growing audience.
“I’d dare say the Paramount is where we cut our teeth as a band,” Campbell says. It was especially exciting because we saw our audience growing right before our eyes. The first time we played we had a few folks out, but with each subsequent show, the crowd would get bigger and bigger. We have such great memories of those early days in Moncton.”
Performing at Moncton’s Tide & Boar Ballroom on Friday evening, one of four shows the group is playing in the Maritimes, Wintersleep is currently touring behind their excellent sixth album The Great Detachment. The album is arguably one of the group’s strongest efforts to date, realizing the stadium-sized potential hinted at on previous albums.
Much in the same manner in which their fanbase in Moncton has grown, Wintersleep has earned a loyal following of fans from coast to coast. Until the time that promotional efforts behind its 2012 album Hello Hum wrapped up, the group had been consistently ensconced in a seemingly endless cycle of writing, touring and recording.
Going into the making of The Great Detachment, the band took a period of time to catch its breath, a virtually unheard of notion in the Wintersleep world, but as is typically the case, the rest period did wonders for the band.
Released in March 2016, the first single from The Great Detachment, “Amerika,” shot to the top of the Billboard Rock Chart, giving the group its most significant exposure and biggest success south of the border to date. While the track ruminates on the individual and collective future of the world’s foremost superpower, Campbell acknowledges the U.S. is still seen by many as the bar by which success is measured on an international level.
“We’ve been lucky to have had great luck here in Canada, but a lot of people still do see the United States as the yardstick when it comes to success,” he says. “We’ve spent some time touring there and have had some great shows on both coasts of the country. To have ‘Amerika’ take on a life of its own and spread via word-of-mouth has been completely gratifying. We fully intend on spending more time there, but also want to wait for the right opportunity to come along. It’s a big country and harder to build a grassroots following like we’ve done in Canada.”
Campbell says a big part of continuing to find work within the realm of Wintersleep exciting and relevant is, perhaps ironically, the work each band member undertakes outside of the group.
While he has been working on a batch of songs with his Wintersleep band mate Jon Samuel, Campbell is featured both as a drummer and producer on the upcoming release from Halifax’s Matt Mays.
“We each want Wintersleep to be the creative driving force, but it’s a good change of pace to be able to confidently work with other artists, either in the studio or in the writing process. The fact is, it’s always good to shuffle the creative deck every once in awhile; the end result is that it’s Wintersleep that benefits the most from those outside projects.”
With an approximate one-month tour of Europe planned for later in the year, Campbell also expects the group to begin the writing process for its next studio effort. Deeming the almost four years that lapsed between the release of The Great Detachment and Hello Hum as an “eternity,” he says the group is eager to capitalize on the momentum their latest studio effort has brought them.
“We have a great team in place right now, one that we feel is with us every step of the way. When you’ve seemingly got so much working in your favour, it’s hard not to feel motivated to get back to making new music.”
What: Wintersleep with guests The Everywheres
When: Friday Jan. 13, 9 p.m.
Where: The Tide & Boar Ballroom, 700 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $23. Advance tickets are available online at www.tideandboar.com/music