Performing at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge on Tuesday May 5, The Young Novelists don’t mind shaking things up. So when the time came to narrow down the track selection for their newest album, Made Us Strangers, released this past Tuesday, the Toronto roots-rock band summoned a close circle of their friends to provide feedback on their personal favourites.
Although this could have spelled disaster for the band, effectively sending them back to the drawing board should the consensus have deemed the material sub par, Young Novelists member Graydon James agrees that while the approach might have been unconventional, it was one they found worth their while.
“This band has always been a democracy, so letting our inner circle hear songs that we had written for Made Us Strangers made sense,” James says, clarifying that those they played the songs for were only hearing demo versions of the material as opposed to the finished product.
“It was a hair-raising experience in a certain sense, as we were opening the door to show people what was behind the curtain. The process itself had its pros and cons, but it’s also worth noting that I’m the type of person who would have had a lot of difficulty in narrowing a track list down. In that sense, it was a small relief to have it taken out of our hands.”
With a collection of 22 songs to choose from, James says the group’s intuition was gratifyingly proven right when their friends and colleagues picked 11 of the 12 songs the band had chosen amongst themselves to comprise the record.
And even they understand why people tended to shy away from that twelfth song:
“It was by far the worst sounding demo of the bunch and actually wasn’t even a finished song when people heard it. Among the band, we knew that the song had been fully realized, but could also understand why people weren’t rushing to pick that specific track.”
As with virtually all bands, The Young Novelists wanted to be sure they were putting their best foot forward when it came to Made Us Strangers, having been called one of the top folks bands to watch in Toronto.
Formed approximately five years ago, the group has racked up a significant amount of praise for their prior releases – 2011’s Live At Dublin St. Church and In The Year You Were Born (2012). In addition to having earned a Galaxie Rising Star Award, The Young Novelists also secured two nominations for Ontario’s prestigious Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award.
Asked if their prior achievements weighed on their collective minds as they set about making Made Us Strangers, James says the group was feeling little, if any, pressure at all while making the record.
In fact, things were reportedly so relaxed that the group cut some of the tracks on the album live off the floor, eschewing potential technological benefits in favour of an organic approach to music making.
“I don’t know that we were even conscious of the idea that more eyes might be looking at us with this record,” James says. “We don’t feel as though our music is really subjected to much in the way of scrutiny.
“What we did know with this album is that we wanted it to be more of a band-based record as opposed to trying to mould a full group into playing songs written for and by a singer-songwriter.”
What: The Young Novelists with special guests Eastcoast Love Story
When: Tuesday May 5, 9:00 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton