“The act of making music and performing that music live is the common purpose.”
By Will McGuirk
Wintersleep gathers its all hands on deck anthemic indie rock Thursday Oct 3 2019, at the Oshawa Music Hall. The wonderful sounds of Walrus and Dakota Mill will precede. Wintersleep formed in Nova Scotia almost twenty years ago. They are touring their latest release ‘In The Land Of’. They still sound new, they still sound vibrant and vital, they sing about politics and reconciliation and love and living and they are still so very now and so very needed. Slowcity.ca reached out and Paul Murphy reached back.
SC: I was at Secret Path show at Roy Thompson Hall, I left feeling as one of the few who had the honour of that experience I had to be an ambassador for Gord's message and so at every opportunity I would raise the issues of reconciliation; how do you reconcile in your own lives the questions you raise in your songs and in what ways do you suggest acting on those issues?
PM: “I think creating music and performing it live in and of itself is sort of the best way we’re reconciling our personal lives with our music or the messaging in it. We try to be good to our loved ones and each other.”
SC: Why are social issues so important for you as a band, for much of popular music, as we know they are not, in short where does the caring about the bigger issues come from?
PM: “I don’t think there’s been a scarier era of time to be alive in my lifetime than right now. I have a young son and I’m imagining what kind of future is I store for him. I just have always cared about people around me and the world. Our first record came out after 9/11. I think it’s hard post 9/11 to not have a bit of world weariness.. it’s always sort of been there. But yeah as you grow older you sort of feel more responsibility for what you’re going to leave behind.”
SC: After almost two decades how do you handle the growth within the band both personally and in song craft: Is sustainability important and how do you manage that?
PM: “I think we’ve been lucky enough to be able to sort of take breaks here and there personally when we’ve needed it and not lose support or footing in a really substantial way. I think with songwriting we all like a pretty wide variety of music and always have. I think whatever we’re each into at any given time there’s also just a very distinct thread... our records always ends up sounding like us however different it starts out or feels from previous efforts. A huge part of our songwriting is welcoming variety and change and not treading previously treaded territory so the more growth the better in terms of personal tastes.”
SC: Your songs at their core are simple, anthemic and simple, I can hear them as soccer stadium chants, but the subjects of the songs can be complex, how purposeful is this marriage of heavy messaging in a lighter manner?
PM: “Sometimes more purposeful than others. A song like Beneficiary for example we really thought doing something disco themed musically really drove the messaging home in a strong way. It’s this song about privilege and entitlement and indifference and what better genre to transport that sentiment? I think in general it’s not so much on our minds. I write lyrics about things that interest me, phrasing and words and ideas... and musically we all come up with stuff that we connect with... it’s probably more often than not just putting a song through the ringer and feeling out what musically rings the truest for a certain lyric or feeling we want to convey through a given song. We just released a song called Free Fall which is a pretty dark, mysterious/mystical lyric and that connects quite head on with the music we wrote for it.. sometimes that’s the most effective thing. it depends on the song.”
SC: There is a spirituality in the songs and I suspect in the band, how did you all meet and find common purpose in the band
PM: “We all listen to music that is meaningful that speaks to the soul and heart and comes from an intimate place.. we’ve all dedicated our lives to making music. I don’t think there are a lot of people who really commit to something like this wholeheartedly for such a long time.. You sort of gravitate towards people that have that same sort of desire, drive, attitude and ability. The act of making music and performing that music live is the common purpose.”