The Memory of this History: Despistado return to Saskatoon

Regina quartet to play Vangelis December 19

If you blinked during this summer’s MoSo Fest you might have missed them.

Thankfully, Despistado are back (again) and are returning to Saskatoon for the holidays to blow the lid off Vangelis with a dance party where the early 2000’s call and ask for their sideways belts and swoops back.

Over the past few years, the band has defied their “broken-up” status several times over, shoestringing together a few short tours. Dagan Harding, guitarist and singer of the band says that despite members being scattered across Canada, playing in other bands, every so often the stars still align.

“We are very fortunate to play for people who still care about us,” says Harding, who adds that the band hasn’t released any new recordings since 2010.

Despistado first burst out from the basements of Regina back in 2001 with a sound unlike most others in the province. Emerging at a time when music writers typically described similar sounds as “angular”, the four-piece, comprised of childhood friends Harding, Leif Thorseth, Brenan Schwartz and Joel Passmore, combined bouncy rhythms with guitars that were both melodic and melancholic. Live, they exuded pure vitality and fun.

Their most recent album, The People Of And Their Versus – which was released posthumously in 2005 on Jade Tree Records, is similarly a masterpiece, a portrait of a band that flickered and flamed out too quickly.

So, is there any new material forthcoming?

Kind of, maybe and sort of, says Harding.

Right now, there are only some fragments of new ideas and “almost finished songs”, but Harding still hopes that another Despistado record will eventually see the light of day.

“We’ve discussed new material, and we’ve sent a lot of audio files back and forth, but our reality is that we don’t have a lot of time to write,” says Harding.

“One of our next projects is learning how to do this using technology, which can be a little intimidating because we were really a live band when we were writing songs ten years ago.

“We do have some interesting banter between songs that you can come check out,” he jokingly adds.

Harding is similarly planning to put out a solo record along with playing some upcoming CD release shows.

Describing his solo material as “therapeutic” and “organic”, Harding says that the songs aren’t far off from the realm of Despistado, but contain more elements of folk. Containing violins and synths among the instrumentation, the recording features members of Library Voices, Rah Rah and the Regina Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s definitely much more relaxed – songs that an older person might write,” says Harding with a chuckle. “It was something I’ve always wanted to do for my family and friends.”

Catch Despistado, along with Saskatoon’s Phalec Baldwin, at Vangelis on December 19.

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Proceeds from every ticket sold will be donated to the Saskatoon Food Bank and we’ll be accepting additional food and monetary donations at the venue. ‘Tis the season of giving so let’s do all we can for our community!

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– Featured photo courtesy of Despistado/Chris Graham