When their 2013 record Stand Together, Fall Together was released, Toronto rocker Sam Cash and his band The Romantic Dogs could never have dreamed how busy the following two years of their life would become.
“I have no idea how many shows we played in support of that album,” Cash admits. “We definitely toured a lot longer than I ever dreamed we would though, especially in support of an album that seemed to come together so quickly.”
With no fewer than three visits to Atlantic Canada alone in support of their previous album, Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs’ tour ethic was largely unrivalled. The group embarked on seemingly endless tours both on their own as well as in support of acclaimed acts like July Talk, Arkells, Zeus, Sam Roberts and more.
Not that he doubted the benefit of maintaining such a busy concert schedule, but it was the culmination of those two years that factored greatly into the making of the band’s latest album, Tongue-In-Cheek Vows.
Produced and recorded by Canadian indie-rock legend Ian Blurton (Change of Heart, Public Animal), Cash says that he and his group were certainly put through the paces by the producer to ensure they were firing on all cylinders when it came time for the rubber to meet the road in the recording studio.
“During the pre-production phase of the album, we had a residency at a Toronto club where we’d play every Thursday night. We would spend the week leading up to the show rehearsing and reworking the material, and then start all over as soon as the gig was done.”
Aside from the natural progression of their songwriting skills, Cash and his band have dug into a fuller and richer sound with the 11 tracks contained on Tongue-In-Cheek Vows. He admits that he was initially unsure he wanted to add a whole lot in terms of instrumentation beyond the group’s standard guitar, bass and drums configuration.
“The previous record was just two guitars, bass and drums, but with the new album, we added layers of guitars and some keyboards. At the outset of recording, I was quite nervous about adding those extras in because I was worried about how those songs and parts would translate to the live show.”
Cash shares that while the group experimented with adding a keyboard player for a short period of time, the eventual decision to maintain the band lineup without a full-time keyboard player allowed the group to seize upon a different opportunity:
“Having keyboards live helped the songs sound closer to the record, but I came to realize that records from some of my favourite bands were very different experiences when I saw them live. That is how I feel it should be to a certain extent: give your audience something a little different.”
If any Canadian musician should be well versed on the business and not always taking the most travelled path, it is Cash. The son of acclaimed Canadian musician Andrew Cash, who has logged miles with both the Skydiggers and as a part of the Cash Brothers with his brother Peter, Sam has been surrounded by music from the time he was an infant.
By the time Sam released his first record at age 18, he had already accumulated a wealth of experience. As Bob Dylan once sang though, “the times they are a-changin’,” a fact that isn’t lost on the musician or his band mates.
For much of the last decade, the music business has been a survival of the fittest. Musicians that don’t have the benefit of either boasting a significant live draw and/or mainstream success often find out that the business can indeed be a harsh mistress.
“It’s tough to keep a band going these days. I’m fortunate to have a great band. I’ve really strived to make the band a gang, where everyone feels they are a crucial piece of the puzzle. Making sure everybody is happy is important, but the financial aspect of what we are doing, and being able to support yourself, is also understandably important,” Cash says.
“If there is one good aspect to the modern day music business though, it is that artists are being forced to be creative in new and different ways. Playing shows and making records is just one aspect of being a musician these days. That is something that I find exciting and happy to be a part of.”
What: Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs with Heethcliff
When: Sunday July 31, 9 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton