Watch: Oshawa Crown Lands Lends Classical Rock-Influenced Style to Indigenous Issues and Injustices


When groups first form and collaborate, “dropping hole” is not usually at the top of the list as a catalyst.

But Oshawa’s Crown Lands is an exception… especially since the progressive rock duo of drummer and singer Cody Bowles and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Comeau share a singular obsession with the legendary Holy Trinity of Rock: Toronto’s Rush.

And to prove the point, Comeau recreated the graphic of the naked star man that first appears on the cover of Rush’s “2112” via a tattoo on his butt.

“This is literally how we met,” laughs Comeau in a recent telephone interview with the two nominees for the Juno Awards, nominated for the breakthrough group of the year and the rock album of the year for their eponymous “Crown Lands”.

“Five years ago a buddy was auditioning for a band in which Cody played drums and I interrupted the audition because I heard that Cody was a huge Rush fan. Within five seconds of meeting Cody, I pulled my pants down and pulled them straight up. We have never looked back.

Upon entering, Bowles, who identifies as a Two-Spirit Mi’kmaq and uses them and them pronouns, confirms the story.

“It was a first impression for sure,” they joke.

The physical tribute to Rush’s debut label – Moon Records – resulted in a torch bearing as Crown Lands did everything but was wrong.

In fact, the Rush connection was further solidified with the involvement of three of the group’s producers – Terry Brown, Nick Raskulinecz (2007 “Snakes and Arrows” and “Clockwork Angels” 2012) and David Bottrill (remixer of 2013 “Vapor Trails “”) – on the band’s two biggest songs to date, “Context: Fearless Pt. 1” and “Right Way Back”, which also happen to be the Crown Lands tribute to you-know- Who.

Listen to the two new Crown Lands singles, “Context: Fearless Pt. 1” & “Right Way Back” here:

“The way it happened, a friend of ours introduced us to Terry (who produced the Rush catalog from ‘Rush’ from 1974 to ‘Signals’) and we started working on the songs,” Comeau recalls. .

“I guess we had been working on ‘Context’ for a while, but we worked it out on the spot with Terry. It was a really special experience, and then going to finish it with Nick and then singing with Dave, it was almost like a moment out of ‘Spinal Tap’: I don’t think there is an artist who worked with all of these guys, let alone one song. This song bears the stamp of many legends.

The “Context: Fearless, Pt. 1” offers many sound markers that mimic the Rush style, from Comeau’s Alex Lifeson-style guitar parts and the Geddy Lee-like bassline to Neil Peart’s rolls performed by Bowles and his similar vocal style.

“You can’t really talk about Crown Lands without talking about Rush, because of what they mean to Cody and me, and how we bonded and became very close to this group,” he said. declared Comeau.

And Bowles says the respect extends beyond their musical skills.

“Not just their musicality, but the way they held up as a group and behaved,” they say. “They were all friends, got along well and did this beautiful thing that was so much bigger than them. Their attitudes towards music really inspired us.

But if you get the impression that Crown Lands are a mere imitator, then you are sorely mistaken. They perfected their two-man group approach with a sound for five men over the course of a few EPs – “Mantra 2016,” “Rise Over Run” from 2017 and the pre-LP from the 2020s, “Wayward Flyers Vol. 1 “- sporting a more blues-rock sound.

Then came “Crown Lands,” produced in Nashville by Grammy winner Dave Cobb.

“Background: Intrepid Pt. 1 ″ marks a fork in the road as the duo decided to expand things into what they call their comfort zone.

“It was like we came on our own,” Bowles says. “It has always been who we are, which is more progressive, experimental. When we started playing we were in prog and playing prog in another band.

“So when we got to Crown Land and built Crown Land it was more stripped down and we weren’t doing the prog thing, and then after a while we fell back into our used to be obsessed with strange bars, really complex musicality and all that.

“It slowly crept into our lineup and then after the success of our debut album we were like, ‘OK, now we can really embrace more of these parts of ourselves’ and moving forward. , we can include more and more. “

Comeau says the current leadership reflects their respect for artists such as Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Genesis and Yes.

Crown Lands is also passionate about speaking out against the issues and injustices, especially colonization, which they sing about in “Mountain” and “End of the Road” about missing and murdered Indigenous women.

“We decided early on that we would talk about issues that are really important to us,” says Bowles. “Indigenous issues – being Mi’kmaq myself – is something that I feel it is my duty to use this platform to raise the voice of my Indigenous brothers and sisters across this planet. . I also owe it to my ancestors.

“Together I think we’re making great, great music and we can say something big. It’s something that we take very seriously, having this platform, so if we can talk about issues that matter and start conversations that can be uncomfortable – but are things people need to know and should hear – then we are going to do it. Because that’s the mission statement of this group.

Bowles said he noticed Crown Lands had an impact with their “problem” songs because of the backlash from audiences across North America on their pre-pandemic tour.

“When we were on tour in the States, we played our song ‘Mountain’ and it was getting really quiet,” they recall. “Then when we played ‘End of the Road’, about the Missing and Murdered Women, Children and Two Spirit People, the whole room went quiet and people really listened.

“We had people reach out to us and say, ‘Hey, I know someone who went missing on that freeway. Thanks so much for making the song. I feel heard and that was exactly what I needed to hear. So it really has an impact and it’s amazing to see.

“And we want to talk about all the injustices: the pipelines and the star-studded tours (early 2000s deaths of Indigenous Canadians who were allegedly stranded without clothes by the Saskatoon police in subzero temperatures) and all these other massive issues. who does not make the headlines.

Comeau says Crown Lands are committed to ensuring that “the victims of these injustices feel heard and seen”.

“As artists all we can do is ask questions,” they say. “I don’t claim to have answers; all I can do is see what’s being done and try to raise awareness, rally with people and let them feel loved and seen. That’s all I can do.

“I hope we can inspire a change for the better, but you know, if the pressure is on and a revolution happens, we’re just going to be the soundtrack of that revolution. It will be good ; we will be there anyway, ”adds Comeau.

While the pandemic has stifled all touring plans for the time being, Crown Lands says they are currently working on new tracks with Bottrill which should be released in the next few months.

But it won’t be an album.

In fact, Bowles and Comeau said they weren’t sure they would ever work on another album again.

“We’re working on new songs and we don’t think so much in terms of records anymore,” says Comeau. “Cody came up with a term called ‘capsule,’ which is the perfect way to describe it.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re going to write one song or 20 songs, if it all fits a theme, we’re just going to record it and release it.

“We noticed that even with two songs, people don’t think in terms of albums anymore, they think of songs. And we embrace it.

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