Good music, friendship, and real life.
That’s what it comes down to for Mounties members Hawksley Workman, Ryan Dahle and Steve Bays. Having all been in the industry for years and found success in previous projects such as Limblifter (Dahle) and Hot Hot Heat (Bays), the three have been there, done that. Now they’re doing it all over again together and the experience couldn’t better.
The indie-rock supergroup released debut album Thrash Rock Legacy earlier this year and the guys have been garnering attention for both the record and their live shows. Nominated for the Polaris Music Prize and 102.1 the Edge’s CASBY (Canadian Artists Selected By You) Award for Favourite New Album, they walked away with the 2014 Sirius XM Independent Radio Award for Emerging Artist of the Year.
So how does it feel to be an “emerging artist” after all this time? Are they starting over or picking up right where they left off?
“It definitely feels like something we’ve never done before,” says Dahle. “For me it feels like something completely new. You’re in a band with these guys, so you can kind of be a bigger fan of it. I’m so excited about these other elements, these other guys that are in the band and what they’re doing. So I feel like it deserves any recognition that it gets.”
“What’s funny is that if this band had started and we were all 19 or whatever, then you’re dealing with other things,” adds Workman. “What I dig about it is I think this band lives in a very funny place of self-assuredness. There are no egos. You’ve got three singers, none of whom are really all that interested in being ‘the front guy’. I think when you’re in your 20s in the music business, the industry looks like this big thing; it’s like this huge moon looming on the horizon, where you think ‘I’ll never be able to get to that’. And then once you are on it, it’s like ‘Meh…it’s kind of corny’. There’s a lot of flash and emptiness…and then you get a little bit older and think ‘I can add something good to this life – I’ll start this band with other guys who have lived and toured and had music and have a real life’. Despite the fact that they’re kind of weird, we have real lives. We’re making music for different reasons.”
“It changes your intention, you know?” continues Dahle. “The intention of a young guy in a band is like ‘look at me’, whereas I think with this band it’s like ‘look at these guys!’ And engaging who is listening as well. We play maybe a bit more for other people and the collective, as opposed to ourselves. That’s part of the excitement.”
There’s also the fact that they know how things work – or don’t work.
“I’m an old guy who’s bitchy,” laughs Workman. “I’ve done this job for so long. I sort of feel like I’m over the bullshit part of it. When you’re young and starting out, you do everything everybody tells you to. I remember those days where it was like ‘OK, all you’ve got to do is this next show…somebody’s going to show up…it’s gonna be the one’ and then it takes about 10 years for you to realize ‘I think you’re fibbing!’”
One has only to see Mounties onstage or flip through their social media profiles to see these guys are friends, first and foremost. The friendship preceded the project, so has that relationship changed at all through the course of their working together?
“Well, you get to know people when you’re on the road!” says Dahle. “You might find out ‘Oh, this guy’s not my guy’ – but what we’re finding is ‘This guy IS my guy’.”
Mounties play Toronto’s Lee’s Palace this Saturday, November 1. For tickets or other live shows, check Mounties Tour.