Published Jul 31, 2014One might think that after a series of full-length and mini-releases, Hamilton, ON-based band Arkells would have developed a defined sonic approach. On the heels of their raw 2008 debut, Jackson Square, the group picked up a Juno Award for New Group of the Year, while 2012 saw them win another Juno for Group of the Year after 2011's pop-leaning Michigan Left.
However, with the release of High Noon, out Tuesday (August 5) on Universal Canada, lead singer Max Kerman tells Exclaim! that the five-piece are in a constant state of evolution.
"My agenda changes every day in terms of music that inspires me. It's fair to say that any new record from any band is a reflection of music that they're into at the moment," he says.
Arkells took to Los Angeles to work with Tony Hoffer (Phoenix, M83, Beck) and the heavily produced songs that followed, Kerman insists, find a balance between the lavish ("Systematic") and the more punchy and coarse ("Fake Money").
"There are a few songs that we re-recorded at home in Toronto. We'd done a bunch of songs in Los Angeles that gave us that produced sound we were after," Kerman says. "But there were a few songs, 'Fake Money' being one of them, that we figured didn't need to be that complicated."
"Fake Money" harkens back to the raw immediacy of their debut, suggesting that while Michigan Left offered a more polished sound, the band have no intentions of losing touch with their early days as a raw live act.
"We share a rehearsal space in Hamilton with the Dirty Nil; we're friends with those guys and a band like July Talk as well — we were influenced by the way they maintained a barebones approach in their songs. And you know, even a song like [new single '11:11'] still has some grit when we play it live, and I love the way it turned out but we wanted to make sure we could capture some of those raw moments."
Arkells are confident they can create those raw moments, but Kerman confesses that when it comes to the studio, they're still relative rookies.
"I've probably spent a total of three months of my life in a studio. I do some recording on my iPhone but I don't really know much about the recording process. It's a bit of a mystery," he says. "Going into the record we had no idea what our fans thought the next Arkells record should sound like. And we probably wouldn't have known how to do that anyway."
As the band prepare to return to Europe before yet-to-be-announced Canadian headlining dates, Kerman and Arkells seem eager for every new day.
"Maybe once you get into your fifth or sixth album it might become a blur and it's just something you do but every day is still a new, learning experience for us."
See all the band's upcoming dates here.