By Will McGuirk
Kate Boothman. You may know her, you may not but you should. I have a Boothman story. I asked her to play an outdoor show one time at Darlington Park along with some other folk acts, must have been about ten years ago. Kate showed up with strawberries which was really sweet of her and they were really sweet too. It wasn't the best planned gig and Kate had to play acoustic, no mic, among a crowd of touring cyclists lining up for a meal and settling in for the night. And she did and her voice cut through all the din and she strolled among the diners serenading them as they ate and I was in awe of her strength and her professionalism. And in the interim years she has only gotten better.
She has opened for Blue Rodeo, Wilco, Joe Pernice (The Pernice Brothers), Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), and Kathleen Edwards and has been in a variety of projects but about three years ago she took a hiatus. It was some break because she has ridden out of the Northumberland Hills on an animal of a record, and with a band, which includes Sir Ian Blurton so you know its taut as fuck.
Kate plugs in and the surge of electric seems to have energized her. She is the lovechild of Gram Parsons and Syd Barrett, a Nudie suited Lucifer Sam.
We had to ask her about this new outfit.
SlowCity.ca: You are always moving as an artist, exploring different sounds with different projects - will this new project continue for sometime with more music coming out soon or will it be something you step in and out of - sorta like Neil Young and Crazy Horse?
Kate: "Aww, Neil. Well I sure hope to continue doing it until I’ve sung my last song, and I’m sure I’ll step in and out of it from time to time too. There’s a long road ahead, God willing! With "I Am An Animal", I’m really enjoying playing rock and roll. It’s the first time I’ve had a straight up, electric band and I LOVE it. I don't want it to stop. And yeah, I have another record written. We’re recording a single today, as a matter of fact."
SC: What was the genesis for this record, and in which ways did it evolve as you brought in the other players?
KB: "In the past, my recordings have always been for the most part warm, folky numbers, recorded with acoustic instruments, in smokey wooden rooms. We even recorded to tape! I maintain that some of the most beautiful music I’ve made is on those hidden records. The title track Moonbath from my last Sunbear record still blows my mind hahah.
"With I Am An Animal, I just sort of felt like shaking that off , that smoke and having a straight up party with my contemporaries. I called Loel Campbell (Wintersleep, Holy Fuck) because I’d heard he’d started producing, and asked if he was interested. It was clear he’d be the drummer because well, IT’S LOEL CAMPBELL! And with Loel came his Wintersleep cohort, Tim D’Eon.
"My roommate at the time was Anna Ruddick (Bry Webb, Dan Romano, Randy Bachman, Ladies of the Canyon). So along with my Lee and Billie Strange partner, Maia Davies (Ladies of the Canyon) on keys, we had a band. And we were loud, and electric, and I loved it! Loel really helped massage the folk out my songs. We worked really well together."
SC: Sir Ian is a machine, what did he bring to the project and why did you want his involvement?
KB: "Live, Sir Ian brings so much. I’m his biggest fan. Though he has a long list of devotees. Seriously though, Ian and I have been friends for a long time. We met behind the Rivoli in Toronto when I was 17 or 18. ( I'd snuck into a Change of Heart show). We call the story Tequila Belt-loops. I’ll let him tell it. It’s funny.
"Loel and Tim live in Quebec, and I had to form a band in Ontario, so I called Ian (Change of Heart, C’Mon, Blurtonia, Bionic, Public Animal ). As for drummers, we have a beautiful revolving door. Jay Anderson (Biblical, Michael Rault), Danny Miles (July Talk), and my dear pal, Glenn Milchem (Blue Rodeo, The Swallows). And somewhere along the line we swapped the keys for Aaron Goldstein (Happy Endings, City and Colour, Espanola) who plays pedal steel and MORE electric guitar. And of course, my partner in crime, Anna, who just lays it down like a mother-fucker. The live show is an experience for certain."
SC: You are recording under your own name, not Sunbear, Horse, Lee & Billy Strange; Why not give the band a name?
KB: "Trust me, Will, I wanted/want to so badly!! But they were all like, look, you’re name is Kate Boothman, you write the songs, it’s your band, deal with it. It annoys me to no end."
SC: What are the plans for the summer, touring? festivals? local gigs?
KB: "YES! We have a shiny new website www.kateboothman.com and it has everything posted there. As well as a new video for I Am An Animal out this Friday. I’ve never played a festival before so I’m thrilled to be playing both Wolfe Island Music Fest AND Cultivate Festival this summer. As well as The Rivoli this Sunday as a part of NXNE, with a growing series of club dates in between. So keep checking in."