INTERVIEW: Ontario’s Rarity on their new record, “The Longest Lonesome”, and US touring
Boston tends to slow down really quick once we hit the summertime. Being a major college town, the population seems to cut in half, and it makes for some beautifully intimate live shows for bands that will come back in a few months to a packed room. Be it the Grayscale pop up show we here at NES headed out to last week to catching Hamilton, Ontario’s Rarity while on “The Longest Lonesome” tour promoting an album that hadn’t even come out yet. An album that comes out this Friday after being finished for almost two years.
The band originally aimed for the album to come out last March but the night before that album was due to come out, New Damage Records came out of the blue with huge interest in helping the band with the album release, so what’s a band to do when an offer like that comes thru. The band kept the title of the tour and it allowed for the band to treat their fans to some yet to be released tracks as well as some old favorites. And it made for easily one of my favorite chats from this summer. I sat down with Cole Gardner and Evan Woods from the band just an hour or so before they took the stage and the room was on fire!
The chat started off silly crying about humidity on both the bands and mines’ part (it was easily 90 something degrees that day with that 80 to 90 % humidity we’ve grown to hate in New England) yet moved on to a serious look at their creative process, and how these last few years have really changed them as a band. The band gave a serious preview into the much-anticipated album and it seems like it will truly allow them to make their mark. The band even will be coming back through MA soon when they come back around with Capstan on October 6th at the Worcester Palladium and we hope to see you there! And if you can’t wait till October, catch the band just a short distance away in West Haven, CT on their “Sophomore Slump” tour September 3rd!
This is only the second date of this headliner but you’ve obviously spent time here. How did last night go and maybe plans or hopes for this run?
Evan Woods: Last night was fantastic! We had never been to Philly before. We had never played a show there before, I think we had driven through and I had the sandwich once before.
Cole Gardner: We drove through so I could see the Eagles’ stadium and have a cheesesteak, yeah.
EW: We had never played a show though so yeah it was good turnout and honestly, it seemed like a lot of people weren’t like Rarity fans. They just wanted to see us, and they stuck around to the end of the night and got down and had fun, and that’s kind of more what we want, right? People seeing us. It’s been great, minus the humidity.
CG: Everything’s been solid minus the humidity.
EW: That’s my one, crying, complaint.
It’s really bad here.
EW: Oh, it’s just disgusting.
CG: Canada too, it’s ridiculous. Same weather, maybe a little hotter.
EW: It’s like 24 degrees down there. Convert it to Celsius, whatever, fuck it. I think that’s like 80 something. None the less, not that hot, crazy humid. I’d rather it be crazy hot then crazy humid and just hit me with all of it instead of just not being able to breathe and being kind of cool.
It’s pretty dramatic here. Just from looking at it, you have an album coming out later this summer, “The Longest Lonesome”, but it had been about three years since the last album in 2016. I know there was some stuff that happened in that year but how long has this album been in the making? When did you really start working on this one?
EW: 2016 was when we started committing to writing sessions and meeting with the guy who eventually recorded our new album. We just did a lot of brainstorming and a lot of writing sessions and demo-ing. And then, maybe over the course of a year, it became an album. That couple of years was a big shift in the Rarity dynamic.
CG: Keep in mind, kids going from 18 to mid-twenties. Things change drastically in that period. Music tastes, personalities, members of course. Things along those lines. Actual adolescent growth.
Yeah, as adolescents, you grow you change, it’s like a cool concept.
EW: So yeah, it was probably a year of writing then we recorded it in October for a month with our friend Sam Guaiana. And then, it’s still not out now.
CG: We got interest in our current label now, New Damage Records, so obviously we would like to do a self-release and all that stuff, but they were so passionate and the interest was genuine. When a label comes in at the literal last possible second and says, ‘Stop it, let us join. Let us go alone on the ride’.
EW: We also had this legal thing going on that they really helped us out with. We’ll stop there. This whole thing went down. It’s just really nice to have them back us and we’ve become really good friends with a lot of the people there. So now the album will be coming out through them, with New Damage Records.
CG: We’ve got everything geared up in that sense. But just obviously, when you make such a drastic change, you get that second breath, so you get to change things up, these little things.
EW: We were changing things all the way up until the end, too.
CG: Oh, absolutely.
EW: We were re-recording things, going back into the studio. We did that a ton of times. Honestly, it was all just to make sure everything was perfect. It’s going to be big.
CG: Evan and Sam are both perfectionists.
EW: Very detail oriented and because of that, we butt heads.
CG: Well, two perfectionists, that’s how it goes.
EW: We have different ideas of what perfect means.
Then considering this is a tour named after that album, that hasn’t come out, how have you been treating this tour? Have you been road-testing a lot of these new songs, a few of the tracks from the last record, how have you been approaching these sets?
EW: We have two singles off the new album out. Because, I mean the music’s there, we had to put something out. We’re really too excited to not put something out.
CG: So, we’re playing those two new songs as well as trying out a couple other new songs.
EW: Like thinking that these could be cool live songs and seeing if people get into it. All the hits from the last album. A lot of this, we’re just treating it as promotion for the album to come out. Unfortunately, we can’t be like this is the date, get ready to buy it but we’re just trying to raise awareness, I guess.
CG: I kind of like it, because as corny and stonery as this sounds, it feels like a vibe. And I like that implemented. Because before we were in a buffer zone and although things are delayed right now, it’s still very apparent. This is what it is and this is what it sounds like. That’s why we’re still calling it “The Longest Lonesome” tour, we’re still using the visuals, we’re still doing all that stuff. It’s still a vibe, as corny as using that description is.
EW: Like this is the new Rarity. We’re not going to pretend we’re still supporting the last record at these shows.
Then speaking of those road tests, maybe a song that’s been really picking up if there is one? A new one that’s maybe not a single?
CG: Working title or real title?
EW: “Drown Me Out”? We have a song called, ‘Drown Me Out’, and it’s one of our favorites, and it’s been getting the best reaction of the new songs.
CG: It’s just got a really cool opening riff, it’s very simplistic-
EW: It gets kids bouncing.
CG: Yeah, it’s the standard bounce. That’s a good description to have. People go off to that. It’s different, it’s cool and then it picks up and it drops, and it picks up. It’s very standard, very simplistic, but once you guys hear it in due time, you’ll get it.
EW: We’ll give you that song soon. We’ve been meaning to record it for forever, but everyone knows how to bounce, right?
Then you come out of a great music scene that has been created in Ontario. Obviously, a huge province in Canada but you come out of Hamilton where Arkells also come from. You’ve toured with Like Pacific who are close by, The Glorious Sons who are killing it too. Bands are starting to make their moves here; I know they’re huge in Canada but here they’re like opening for The Struts.
EW: You’re talking about The Glorious Sons? Yeah, it’s ridiculous, they’re like a radio band in Canada. They’re everywhere. That’s always confusing to us.
Arkells are like that too.
CG: Yeah, I don’t get it, they’re selling out stadiums. They sold out Hamilton Stadium, what is that, like 25,000?
EW: Yeah, something like that.
The last time they played here they played the Sinclair and Glorious Sons played there in February and neither of them sold it out.
CG: How big is that room?
CG: You’re kidding.
EW: Marianas Trench is a huge band in Canada, I think they’re breaking into America now.
Yeah, they’re doing well! They do like House of Blues, which is like 2,500.
EW: There’s this band from Canada called Hedley. They got in a lot of trouble. Fuck them.
CG: But like two years ago in Canada, they were like the biggest band and no one in America had ever heard of them.
EW: That was kind of weird, because they’re playing very elaborate stadiums, set-ups and stuff, then they’ll play the House of Blues here, if that. But fuck them though.
If it helps, Hedley does not do anything here. But you know, for you to come headline here in the US, is a big challenge coming from Canada that is such a supportive music scene. Maybe advice for bands to kind of make that jump, why it’s worth it?
EW: A lot of it is self-marketing, promotion. Take those big steps to reach out to people, promoters. And when you’re here, if you do come here, make friends. Meet as many people as you can, make an impact and people will remember you, right? You are far from home. Us going to Philly last night, we had never been there.
CG: But we made buddies.
EW: Yeah, we made a lot of friends.
CG: Literally went out with people after the show to get cheese steaks.
EW: Yeah, it was like ‘yeah, we’ll come’. I feel like a big part of it is more internal of what you do as a band, not necessarily external marketing and stuff like that. Make an impact and meet people. It’s an invisible line between Canada and America. We’re not that different. We get along.
CG: Yeah, that’s it! Hopefully we’ll get asked to come back again.
EW: Exactly, maybe take some risks. Play a couple of crap shows and maybe next time when you come back, there will be 50 % more people there.
CG: Exactly, can’t indicate it on the first time. Just keep touring.
EW: Don’t get discouraged.
CG: Work a job, save every penny that you can, because in Canada you must get the visas, the merchandise crossover, the currency. If you don’t have something heavily saved, you’re screwed. It’s that black and white. You’ve got to prep for it. Like American bands, I know people who have literally left with $20 in their pockets and scrape by and it’s just like no, we’ve got Visas, we’ve got the currency exchanged. To come here, we immediately start in the hole.
EW: I’ve heard people can get into Canada with just like their Driver’s License.
CG: Well like it’s an Enhanced one.
EW: We have to sign up to like a Music Guild.
CG: It’s extensive. It takes at least a couple days.
EW: They’ll drag us into the border, they give us the low down, they staple a bunch of stuff into our passports. It’s a whole thing. It’s the right way to do it and we don’t have trouble at the border or anything.
CG: We walk in a lot of the times, essentially.
EW: It’s laid back, they know us.
And then to end it off, like we keep saying, this tour is still being marketed as “The Longest Lonesome” tour, so obviously that album is to come, you just had this exciting opportunity. Maybe focuses or goals over these next few months for Rarity? Obviously besides the record.
EW: Well, we have the record coming out. There’s a lot of countries we want to return to, and I’d love to go to like Australia, Japan. I want to go back to Europe and the UK really bad. They welcomed us in so well there, it meant a lot to us. We want to go back. The album, it’s a weird thing with the album, we’ve had it personally for so long, now we’re touring on it, so once it comes out, we don’t really know what to expect. What it’s going to feel like.
CG: We’re already listening to it all the time. For us right now, it’s an old record to us. And that’s why we’re already gearing up for the new one. We’re going to be refreshed as soon as other people hear it. We’ll get all the silly comments, like the Twitter stuff, then we’re going to be immediately reset.
EW: It will be crazy to think, okay they have it now, we’ve had it for so long and now they have it. That’s going to be hard to predict.
CG: The record that will never come out.
EW: So weird, we’ll delay it again just for fun.
CG: That’s a me thing. I would commit to the bit.
EW: How many tours can we do without this album out? I want it to come out on tour three. Because we did a Canadian run, little bit of the West, with “The Longest Lonesome” title to promote the album, two months ago.
CG: I don’t know, I stand by it, I think it’s a vibe. I like the start of a new cycle and being in that new cycle.
EW: We have a couple festivals booked for this Summer and the Fall, but nothing on the scale of like A Day To Remember’s festival. That would be cool.
CG: So, the goals for this record is just working hard on European festivals period.