Coming up on one year of this new way of life, I’m really missing live music more than ever. Staying connected with your local music scene is so important, especially right now. The lockdown hasn’t slowed down the music, however! I’m continually inspired by the awesome music being created locally.
One of my very favourite Hamilton bands, for years now, has been psych-pop outfit The Crowleys. They have been vibrantly described as being “armed with shimmering synths, scintillating guitars, towering drums, eye-shaking bass, and ethereal vocal melodies. Their mission: merging mind-bending psychedelic rock with bubblegum melodies that will blow your mind and have you dancing along impulsively.”
The Crowleys release their nostalgic new single “Slowly” today on the Hamilton-based Wel-Pel Records. I chatted with the band to learn more about it!
I Heart Hamilton: This is your first single of 2021! What can we expect from you this year – more singles, or are there plans for a longer release in the works as well?
The Crowleys: We have a fair amount of music at different stages of being recorded and a lot that needs just a little polishing, a few overdubs, and/or some mixing. We enjoy the process of putting out singles and it is good to focus all of our energy around each individual song, but we do feel that some upcoming work deserves to be cozied up together on a full length. Nothing concrete yet, so as our incompetent premier would say, “We’re leaving everything on the table.”
In “Slowly” you continue with the themes of connection and friendship from your last single, “Making Friendly.” Can you tell us a bit about what inspired the song?
Stu: With “Slowly,” I listened to the rough demo over and over again, in an effort to get writing inspiration from the feel of the song itself. I started thinking about nervous but excited feelings of small rebellions when you’re younger. How that feeling would grow and grow until you thought for sure you would be caught. But then the moment you knew you were fully in the clear would finally come, and those feelings would dissolve into simple elated relief. And you share these feelings with the ones you are with at the time, and that slowly builds on your relationships with them. Almost tricking your brain into associating all these feelings with them. That is how I felt with the verse moving around in this dizzying and whimsical kind of way, building up to this chaotic surge, only to break away into a calm and mellow chorus with the confession, “fun for me is when I’m with you.”
I know you have an awesome relationship with Threshold Recording Studio and owner/producer Michael Keire. One of my favourite studios in the city (it was awesome to see you play there on my birthday in 2019!). How has that working relationship impacted your music – does it help to have someone who has been with your music from the very beginning who has watched your evolution as a band?
It is pretty crazy, Mike’s been involved in all of our recording, so input from him goes a long way; he’s seen where we’ve come from and how we’ve changed.
Cohen also mixed this track and works at Threshold – is it ever a challenge to work on your own music and keep perspective and know when a song is finished? Is it a rewarding part of the process to have that kind of creative control?
Cohen: When I’m recording/mixing our music, I have to put my ego aside. I really have to think about what’s best for the song. Earlier in my career it was definitely a bit harder to see the bigger picture, but in the past couple years post – Colours Change Their Tone EP – I think I’ve come into my own with the balance between musician and audio engineer. I really enjoy seeing these songs from the first day we jammed them, to the final sleek and produced-version, ready for the public. It’s a long process, but with every new track my skills as an engineer and producer are growing. Also, a great advantage is having worked with Mike for so long and the great relationship we have when it comes to mixing. I really respect his opinions and his skills as an engineer, and when I get a little stuck on a song I can always ask him for guidance. All of these last singles have had Mike’s touch on them, and it is always for the better!
Are any of the songs you’re working on now songs that you have had for a while, or have you been writing more lately during this period?
We still have a backlog of songs we’d like to record, so that’s what we’re working on in the studio, but we’re still writing new stuff all the time. That being said, if we get really excited about a song it might jump to the top of the list. We may also tinker with a song on the arrangement and other parts for months, while the next song might go from idea to finished product in a week.
This is obviously such a challenging time for musicians, not being able to play shows, and restrictions may also impact the recording process and rehearsal time as well. How have you found this time to be affecting your creativity – has this downtime sparked any inspiration, or can it be hard to keep creating?
Seeing shows and playing shows is very inspiring, it gets us excited to write and share music. With that being gone we’ve definitely had to look elsewhere to find inspiration. We’ve also had restrictions on our ability to practice, changing our normal workflow. That being said, without really having a solid path it kind of leads to meandering, which, when you’re making music, can be a good thing. You don’t really have the normal pressures so you can try different things and make some happy accidents.
I’ve always loved your sound – so many different influences must find themselves in the mix! What are you listening to lately, anything you would recommend?
Yeah! There was so much great music released in 2020. Holy Hive, Washed Out, Holy Fuck, and Cut Worms all put out great albums. Dan Edmonds put out a single recently that is real groovy! Big albums this year, like from Tame Impala and Fleet Foxes (and the release of Shore’s stems on Bandcamp), have been great inspiration for refined production techniques and tidbits. Stu and Kaulin have been sending music back and forth that falls under the umbrella of this Post-Punk revival we seem to find ourselves in (FRIGS, Preoccupations, Ought, Parquet Courts, Protomartyr, Shame, Idles). And that always sends us back down the OG rabbit hole of Gang of Four, Joy Division, Talking Heads etc. So maybe expect some more angst in the future?