Speaking with the newspaper earlier this week, Simon Ward, lead vocalist and songwriter, described the band as “beyond excited” for their Rivoli show this Friday. While most of the band hails from Lindsay, Ontario, Simon feels very comfortable in both city and country; an attitude often reflected in the band’s lyrics.
Ward credits his personal and honest lyrics in part to a surprising source. “I grew up on hip hop, so I learned how to write lyrics about my life...country and hip hop lyrics are both so honest, like ‘this is my life, this is what I think about things’; and that’s just how I write.” A bit of his small-town patois slipped out when asked to describe the band’s sound. “Holy jumpin’ that’s a good question!” Ward exclaimed. “I’d love to be described as an alt-bluegrass band with a pop element,” he continued.
The Strumbellas, like many indie bands, live double lives—at least professionally. “We’re all a little it older, and we all have totally different jobs. One guy works at the CBC, I'm a supply teacher, another guy is working on his PhD,” said Ward of their alter egos.
Despite having other commitments, it’s obvious from the first few seconds of any song where their hearts lie. Their first full-length album, My Father and the Hunter, drops on February 21. Of the twelve tracks, ‘Lakes’ and ‘Underneath A Mountain’ stand out. With a solid group-chorus and layered orchestration somewhat reminiscent of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ “Home” or Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up”; they stir something undeniably and tangibly emotional within the listener.
Coming out soon after their launch is their first music video as well—a project that was not without its amusing setbacks. “For our shoot, we had a fake cop car and a fake police officer, and we were shooing it in a small town. So, the town cops stop us and say we can’t drive the cop car. We got kind of shut down, but in the end, the server at the Legion we were shooting at called the mayor and said, ‘look, they just want to finish their shoot,’ and so the mayor said it was alright. It was classic.” The Strumbellas have some unique street-cred.
Opening for The Strumbellas are Graydon James and the Young Novelists; and Hamilton Trading Company—both solid Toronto groups with a similar roots-indie feel and growing followings. So if you’re looking to check out a new group on the rise and see what the apparently booming alt-country scene in Toronto is all about, The Strumbellas are a great place to start.
“My Father and the Hunter” Album Launch Friday, February 17th at the Rivoli. Album released February 21st.