Since their humble beginnings in 2006 – several members admit to forming the band as an excuse to add people to their weekly Settlers of Catan matches – the group has evolved from their sketchy, ramshackle origins and grown into something resembling one of those big city-type collective bands you hear about from Toronto.
Or maybe Slow Down, Molasses finally got really good at being sketchy. And, on Walk Into The Sea, the group has perfected the art of dangerously rickety, pop-infused folk rock.
But with various members scattered across the country at any given time, compounded with day jobs, solo projects and popping out kids, the band isn’t exactly a full-time venture – at least for some people. As front man Tyson McShane states, Slow Down, Molasses is an incredibly temperamental beast subject to the whims of a highly transient roster of talent.
“It was a completely unreasonable idea to actually make the record and it basically ended with three months where I decided that if I was awake I’d made sure I was working,” says McShane. “During those three months I was planning my wedding, renovating a suite in my house, working crazy long hour weeks at my day job and finishing the record. It basically came down to obsessively planning out really intensely busy sessions whenever people were available and giving up any sense of a social life for a while.
“Somehow everyone that needed to be on the record managed to pass through town and was overly generous with their time.”
Musically, Walk Into the Sea is a huge leap from their first full-length album I’m An Old Believer. The vocals, which include guests such as Julie Doiron and Olenka Krakus, are more intact and striking than ever. And the backing instrumentation – trombone, viola and mandolin – is entirely appropriate, with the group learning a thing or two about arrangements.
But Slow Down, Molasses’ true strength lies in combining plaintive acoustic strumming and ballsy layers of fuzzed-out noise. With angelic choir backing vocals colliding with a skronking Big Muff pedal, the band is finally ready to leave their audiences both swooning and staggering.
“The whole idea of the making the record came from the end of our last tour,” says McShane. “We had a bunch of songs we were really excited about, but I was basically the only one that had the time to focus on the band. It would have made complete sense to break up or go on hiatus, but we had these songs ready to go so we recorded the basic tracks the week before Patty [Schmidt, banjo and vocals] moved away.
“Luckily we received a Saskatchewan Arts Board grant and we recorded a Canada Live session for the CBC, and that made [being in Slow Down, Molasses] start to make sense again.”
This spring Slow Down, Molasses will embark on cross-Canada tour. Check out the dates below:
03-10 Saskatoon – Caffe Sola
03-11 Saskatoon – Amigos
03-12 Edmonton – Wunderbar – with Jessica Jalbert
03-15 Vancouver – Biltmore – with Aunts and Uncles
03-17 Calgary – Broken City – with Deadhorse and Scars & Scarves
03-18 Regina – O’Hanlons
03-19 Winnipeg – Lo Pub
03-20 Thunder Bay – The Apollo
03-22 Toronto – Horseshoe
03-24 Halifax – Gus’ Pub – with Klarka Weinwurm
03-25 Fredericton – Capitol Bar – with Sleepless Nights
03-26 Sackville – Royal Canadian Legion – Shotgun Jimmy album release show
03-27 Charlottetown – Baba’s
03-29 Montréal – L’Escogriffe
03-30 Ottawa – Raw Sugar
03-31 – Peterborough – The Cannery Arts Centre – with Typewriter
04-1 Toronto – Garrison
04-2 London – Paterson