The Fjords played their last show in the summer of 2010. The event was precipitated by singer and guitarist Luke Ryalls, who was preparing to move to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Instead of going on hiatus, a nebulous term created by bands unwilling to disappoint their fans, the Saskatoon-based rock trio decided to quit.
“We broke up the band and called it the Fjords’ last show and everything,” Ryalls said recently. “We kind of figured it was over.” It wasn’t.
Ryalls, bassist David Brown, and drummer Jeffrey Pederson had little trouble shelving their dreams of rock stardom. Their love of playing music together proved harder to abandon. In the summer of 2011, the band reunited for a one-off show at Amigos Cantina. “It’s been far too long, and it’s something we all really love to do,” Ryalls told Ominocity at the time. “So we talked about it and decided to hijack a bill at Amigos and give it a shot.” It became the first of many “one-off” reunion shows.
Ryalls moved back to Saskatoon last year, paving the way for a more permanent reunion. But instead of dedicating their lives to music, he and his bandmates resurrected the Fjords on their own terms. “We were kind of pushing it [before], trying to get our albums out there and get our name out there and everything,” he said. “There was definitely a point when I realized that wasn’t really the goal anymore, and it was more just about playing.”
The Fjords have been playing music together for more than a decade. They started jamming in 2002. According to Ryalls, the band was born when Pederson announced his desire to sell his drums and use the money to buy a new set of goalie pads. “I asked him to start a band instead,” Ryalls recalled. “He said okay. And he kept his drums.”
In early 2005, the Fjords released an eponymous EP — their debut. Reminiscent of the early Weakerthans, albeit with Ryalls’ primal snarl in place of John K. Samson’s diffident delivery, its five songs combined memorable guitar hooks, tonally complex chord progressions, and the occasional guitar solo. “There’s pop on there, but it’s serious pop,” Ryalls said with a laugh. “I think writing good pop is pretty serious business.”
In 2010, the Fjords returned with their first full-length album. More focused and refined than its predecessor, Get It Right was an extended meditation on fractured love and crumbling relationships. “In my melodramatic way of doing it, I try and pack in as much emotion as possible,” Ryalls said of his lyrics. “They’re kind of like memories. It’s like going through a photo album, all these different memories and feelings and what you were doing when you were writing those songs.”
But while Get It Right was about the collapse of love, its songs crackled with punchy melodies, infectious choruses, and soaring guitar solos. It’s a sound few bands can pull off — intense yet thoughtful, infectious yet richly textured. Ryalls, however, is modest. “We’re just doing our own thing,” he said.
Over the last few months, “doing their own thing” has come to mean writing new material and even discussing a return to the studio, although Ryalls isn’t sure when, or even if, the band will release new material. Mostly, the Fjords are having fun. “There’s so much pressure when you’re trying to push a band,” he said. “There’s something beautiful about not really having to do that anymore, and just playing for yourself.”