Recording his latest album, Heartbeat, mainly live off the floor, Calgary’s Matt Blais turned to a longtime collaborator for inspiration. Jay Semko has long been known for his work with The Northern Pikes – maybe you’ve heard of them? As it turns out, he is also best buds with Blais.
“The greatest part about working with Jay is that we sit and talk for hours before we even pick up a guitar,” says Blais.
“For the song on the new album I told him I wanted something with a lot of energy and then we essentially just told each other stories. We talked about the Vancouver riots and the New York worker strikes and how the smallest things can throw everything into chaos. We talked about human nature and how people can act like the swell of a wave. Which is a great line, so I wrote it down.
“It was a conversation that inspired us and turned into a song.”
Combining elements from both The Gaslight Anthem and Bob Dylan, Heartbeat takes jagged rock flourishes with pairs them with well-polished soul leanings. Blais’ Heartbeat is both raw and emotionally compelling. It’s a rock album that occasionally takes off its boots in order to stretch out a spell and take a breather. And it works.
“Heartbeat was born out of the desire to take what we were doing on stage and put it on a record so people could take it home with them,” says Blais.
“That’s why it’s called Heartbeat – it’s meant to be a living, breathing entity.”
– Matt Blais plays tonight, Nov 1, at Rock Bottom in Saskatoon.