English Words Finds Balance

Since forming in 2006, it seems as though English Words have been in a state of flux. Although the group’s lineup has remained relatively consistent, it is their band name and sound that have seen the most radical changes. Comprised of band members Andrew Murray, Todd MacLean and siblings Ryan and Aaron Crane, the group has been turning many heads right across the country with their latest record new-wave influenced new record Red Potion.

English Words perform at the Tide & Boar in downtown Moncton Saturday evening.

Prior to becoming English Words, this Prince Edward Island band was known as Smothered In Hugs, taking their band name from a Guided By Voices song.

Asked what prompted the name change from Smothered In Hugs to English Words, band vocalist Ryan Crane says that the group wanted their band name to be a more accurate representation of what they stood for musically.

“On one hand, I don’t care so much about the band’s name but on the other hand, it could be a huge issue. It’s like if you opened a daycare called Bloody Fang,” he laughs. “We didn’t want a band name that didn’t represent where we were coming from musically.”

Along with the band name change came a creative rebirth of sorts for the group, the results of which can be heard on Red Potion. Recorded in a short five-day span in Nova Scotia, influences of the ’80s are prevalent on the group’s dance-worthy latest record. At this point in time, the group has all but shed the indie-rock influence of Smothered In Hugs.

“We are the type of band that is always in transition so we are a little more inclined to do what we feel like, tactfully of course, without trying to alienate our audience. After we changed the band name, we decided to change our sound.”

While the continue holding down day jobs and playing live throughout the country, Crane shares that music will always be a constant in his life.

“I don’t ever question what I’m doing; I’m happy just to stay out of debt. I think that there is always going to be music written by my brother and I. Once you start writing songs, you want to start to play them.

“In some ways, it feels like we are leading a double life. Half of our time is spent working our jobs and the other half is playing and making music. It’s great; I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think there is a tendency for some people to believe that being a musician is a lot more exotic than it really is. When you’re on stage playing, you really feel like you’ve got it made but when you’re logging your 14th straight hour traveling in the van, you don’t tend to think it’s quite as glamourous. Making music reminds me a lot of hockey in that the lows are low and the highs are high. To be successful, I think you have to try to maintain some middle ground and to that effect, you can’t allow yourself to measure a tour on a nightly basis. You have to take it all in as a whole.”

Article published in the November 30, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript