Recently we were fortunate to preview the Denim Daddies’ new EP, “Thinkin’.” Today, we’re delighted to follow that up with an interview with the band, discussing their new project (and the previous EP, “Drinkin'”). Thanks to the band for taking the time to talk with us! (The Denim Daddies are: Rudiger Metsin, Guitar/Vocals; Rick Visser, Bass/Vocals; Merv Campbell, Drums/Vocals; Bo Winchester, Lap Steel/Guitar; and Shooter Mac, Keys/Organ.)
For those who may not be familiar with your music, what style do you mean when you say “When a lifestyle creates a musical style, that music is authentic. So when we say that the Denim Daddies are creating their own form of authentic country music, you might feel a little bit confused”? What style is your own authentic style?
Rick: I think the most unique thing about our style is that we’re five guys creating country music that wouldn’t normally be creating country music. Members of this band have played pretty much everything from folk to jazz to funk to post-punk to experimental. The country genre more than any other genre seems like something most people are born into without a chance to build skills in any other musical realm. It’s not a bad thing for them, but I would say it makes us more unique. In this “war” that is going on between pop-country and traditional country, both sides think that everything should be done a certain way. We don’t concern ourselves with that at all.
Should we read anything into the order in which you have released your EPs (Drinkin’, then Thinkin’)?
Rudiger: There was definitely some thought that went into the ordering of the EP releases. All the tracks were recorded in the same session, with plans to be released as a full length album called Drinkin’, Thinkin’, Lovin’, & Leavin’ with contrasting themes on either side. We ended up doing a single release followed by these two EPs instead. Drinkin’ takes the listener through the progression of an evening of drinking, from the end of the work day to the party to the darker side of inebriation. In one of our newer songs there’s a line that says “a drunken head shares sober secrets unsaid” and I think that unfiltered thought is one of the positive factors of drinking, as long as you’re not being an asshole haha. Thinkin’ carries on from where Drinkin’ left the listener, with pure unadulterated views on the society.
If I can turn briefly to “Drinkin’” (your previous EP, released earlier this year), these aren’t (to me) your typical drinking songs… it’s a common theme throughout but you’re also talking about things like discipline (as in, work first, party second) and loneliness (the shadow side of drinking alone). As you’re writing lyrics, what do you generally hope to accomplish? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
Rudiger: With regards to the Drinkin’ album, lyrically we wanted to take the listener on a journey through the ups and downs of a night of drinking and the emotions that are coupled with it. We actually have a few more songs that add more elements and details to the adventure of the evening that we aptly call the ‘beer suite’. When it comes to lyrics, we try not to get tied down by writing in a certain style or form but tailor the lyrics to fit the aesthetic of the song. With this approach we hope to take the listener through a story where in the end they can apply at least some part of the song to their own life, or at least have a few drinks during and afterward.
One of the topics you tackle on this EP is the ‘circus’ that US politics has become. Obviously this is of great interest to us (since we live on that side of the border)… how do you see our political problems affecting Canada and Canadian society?
Rudiger: “The Circus” was written during the lead up to the 2016 presidential election and at the time I thought it would just be a reminder of a silly time in US history when “a failed businessman” ran for president. Upon the results of the election it made me realize that anything is possible and not everything you are told is true. I think the biggest influence American politics has played in Canada is the division of people. It has lumped groups of society into only a few categories when in reality issues are much more complex and multifaceted then the beliefs of one political party. Thankfully we have more than two choices in an election.
“Rust and Die” ends “Thinkin’” on a somewhat somber note – is this an intentional placement? (“Drinkin” ends in a darker place as well.)
Rudiger: Overall Thinkin’ is a much more pessimistic album than Drinkin’ but the placement of “Rust & Die” as the closer has less to do with the somber tone and more to do with the cinematic closing of the song. When we were composing the song we wanted the feel to be a modern day spaghetti western written by Neil Young. This attempt at writing music for a movie is why the song has an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. The natural story arch through the key elements of plot is the main reason why “Rust & Die” is the closer.
You have a couple of performances in Edmonton this month (one of which is your album release) – what is up next for you guys?
Rudiger: After our album release we have a scattering of shows and festivals throughout Alberta and British Columbia over the winter months. We also have a monthly residency at a bar in Edmonton where we do an outlaw tribute night dedicated to artists such as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, etc., but our main focus during the cold winter months is to prepare songs for our upcoming releases. We are looking to record two albums in 2019, our debut full length and a duets album featuring country artists from across the Canadian prairies.
Photo Credit: Kiefer Hagen