WINTERSLEEP with SYLVIE and UNCUT at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, July 21). $8. 416-598-4753.
For their summer vacation, Halifax-based rock outfit Wintersleep are taking their latest record, Untitled, across the country and across the ocean. This indie band on collective Dependent Music from the relatively remote Maritime provinces is finding fans in unexpected places.
From a tour stop in Saskatoon, bassist Jud Haynes enthuses over the trip. "This tour has been a total eye-opener. Most cities we've gone to have had lots of people already familiar with the band and our albums. Vancouver and Victoria were great times, with fantastic turnouts, Calgary was sold out, and the weather has made this a great time of year to drive across the country."
Ironically, Haynes attributes their growing audience to the closeness of the Dependent fold, which he refers to as a family of friends.
"While it does handle all the same functions as a record label for the day-to-day business of making music, Dependent's online community has taken on a life of its own," he says. "The fans who log on to our message board become family with one another. They all seem to take as much pride in spreading the word about these bands as we do and have made Dependent their thing as much as ours."
It can't hurt that Untitled is being stocked at HMV, and the gorgeous, fast-paced first video from the record, for the hard-driving single Danse Macabre, has been getting airplay on MuchMusic.
Wintersleep's sound has matured from the sleepy, murky ballads of their first album to a more persistent, confident rock sound, a shift that happened organically as they evolved into a full-fledged band from the group's origins in 2002 as a conduit for singer Paul Murphy's solo compositions.
"I guess the biggest difference is that what started out as a great way to record Paul's solo material has turned into a full band project with everyone contributing material," Haynes says.
Drummer Loel Campbell adds, "Not much has changed musically. We're still just as excited about the material we work on, and what comes out in the end varies quite a bit. It's not a contrived process."
The Wintersleep method of forming and backing up one another's work is nothing unusual for the 10-year-old Dependent clan, which was formed in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and is now run dually out of Halifax and Toronto.
"Often, band members play or have played in more than one band on the roster. We tour together all the time and generally watch each other's back," says Haynes.
"Who knew 10 years ago that the collective's name would be so perfect?" he goes on. "We're all fully relying on each other, and we wouldn't have it any other way."
Even out of their natural habitat, touring with non-Dependent bands Sylvie, from Regina, and Toronto band Uncut, Wintersleep are enjoying their adventure on the road. And they've got three weeks of touring in Europe to look forward to once their Canadian travels end on August 8 back in Nova Scotia.
"This being our first national tour, we've been taking lots of photos. This is a summer vacation of sorts for us, too, and we plan to fit in as much fun as possible."