February 3 at The Starlite Room (Headliner: Charlie Winston, opener: Current Swell)
Tickets are $24.75 and are available through Union Events.
I’ve heard some pretty wild stories about Current Swell’s hometown shows, however I thought I’d learn what expect from their upcoming show directly from frontman Scott Stanton. “I’m hoping that they will be well-behaved Edmontonians. The hometown crowd is just… an amazing bunch of boys and girls and… they’re fantastic. I just can’t wait to play again for them and it’ll be nice to hang out, because last time we played, we didn’t get to hang out because we were headlining. Our fans can expect the same old, same old. They’ll know what that means. But for fans that don’t know us, it’s just such a fun time, such a positive energy in the room.”
I’ll admit it, Current Swell’s music took a while to grow on me. If you’ve read any of my articles, you know that I mostly listen to, what I term, “really bad pop music.” You know, the kind with the repetitive bass, the same three chords played in succession, and the cheesy lyrics.
Current Swell’s music is not my typical “really bad pop music.” Their music been termed “surf rock,” “singer-songwriter,” and “modern electric blues” among other things, but the one that seems to stick is surf rock. As Stanton tells me, surf rock was never the type of music he and Dave Lang [Davers] set out to make during the hours they spent jamming in a Victoria backyard. In fact, the impetus for beginning to write their own music was not wanting to “write depressing songs about politics or love… we just wanted to write songs about short stories.” One night while jamming, the (then) duo decided they wanted to write songs because they hated what was on the radio saying, “let’s write stuff that no one else writes… what we were listening to was old music, not what was on the radio.”
So, how exactly does that philosophy work its way into their music and music-making process? Stanton says: “I mix my reality – memories from my past – mixed in with a cool story – some fiction that didn’t actually happen, but what I think would be really cool. Sometimes it’s just an idea pops into your head and the whole song is written and finished in a day…. It always changes. That’s why I love song writing. If it was as simple as, ‘alright! Here’s the story and here’s the song. Song’s done.’ I don’t think I would enjoy songwriting. I look at songwriting almost as a crossword puzzle and you have to put it together. You have your lyrics, you have your melody, your guitar, and you kind of have to fit it into this puzzle to make it work. The better the puzzle, the better the song, I think.”
Current Swell’s music is influenced by the blues and folk music that Stanton listened to growing up. When I listen to Current Swell’s music, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic. Maybe it’s the banjo, or the scratchy vocals, or the slight vocal twang at the end of each line (none of which, I admit, were actually part of my childhood).
“I grew up listening to tons of Neil Young and Led Zeppelin, but mostly a lot of old, old, old, dirty Delta blues music. You know like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Son House, and folk music like Bob Dylan and Lead Belly and Mississippi John Hurt. Growing up… I had a lot of great friends in St. Albert, but I felt a little out of place when it came to music. I don’t think I knew anyone else who shared a love for that type of music…. I [also] listened to rap and stuff like that growing up, but it just seemed like all my friends listened to a lot of heavy music, where I was listening to my Dad’s old records. When I moved out to the coast… [I felt like] this place is me… I felt like I was on their page the whole time, it was really weird. Every time I went out to Vancouver when I was younger, I just felt like I was home…. And a lot of things fell into place when I moved to [Victoria].”
Despite being firmly rooted in the west coast’s easy-going surf culture, Current Swell’s music translates across many locales. This spring they’ll be playing at South by Southwest after wrapping up a cross-Canada tour, and future plans include concerts as far away as Brazil.
– Jenna Marynowski