ALABAMA SHAKES at Echo Beach (909 Lake Shore West), tonight (Thursday, June 20), 7 pm. $37.50 (sold out). RT, SS, TM. See listing.
It's a hot Athens, Alabama, day, and Steve Johnson has spent it swimming with his family. His band, the Alabama Shakes, has had about six weeks of downtime.
"It's given us a chance to miss each other for a change and want to get together and play," says the drummer in his Southern drawl amid attempts at parking, getting pizza and general kid-wrangling.
The four-piece roots rock outfit hasn't been apart very often in the past few years.
They made their first EP in September 2011 and were signed to Rough Trade two months later. In 2012 they released a critically and commercially successful debut album, Boys & Girls, and played Bonnaroo. This year they went to the Grammys - they were nominated for three - and appeared on Saturday Night Live.
"It didn't necessarily feel like it was moving too quickly while it was happening, but when you stop and look back at everything you've done, you're like, ‘I guess that did kinda move fast,'" he says.
Contrarily, they're content to take their time with the next steps: follow-up album, more touring. "We've got a good team of people that we work with, and they're open to whatever ideas we have and to whatever pace we move at," says Johnson.
"It gives us a chance to go home and write new songs and be excited about 'em and show 'em to our friends."
The band has been recording in two separate studios: in Brooklyn, where their sound is taking on a lot of soul influences, and in Nashville with a garage-rock-leaning producer who favours big drums and guitars.
"Both sounds mesh really well, so I wouldn't be surprised to see recordings with multiple sounds on the next album."
Now the Alabama Shakes are on the road again. Johnson doesn't know if they'll debut any new material in Toronto, but one thing is certain.
"We're definitely going to have fun and get a little rowdy. We can always find fun. Or fun finds us. I don't exactly know how it works."