I have excellent news, my fellow countrymen and women: the washy, rain-soaked sounds of Vancouver's Hinterland may soon be available domestically; not a moment too soon if you ask me.
"I want to be a Canadian band on a Canadian label," confirms vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Michaela Galloway by phone from her BC homebase. "Our first album was available on import in the city we live in. That has to change."
Hinterland is a precision-based five piece that are slowly re-introducing the splendor of dream pop and drone-core to the BC interior. 2003's "Under the Waterline" was their excellent debut full-length and a yet-unnamed follow-up is already in the can. Galloway and friends are currently shopping for label support, after releasing "Under the Waterline" through HybridElectric Records out of Detroit, MI.
Galloway says, "The fellow who runs Mass Transfer magazine, which is the only North American magazine dedicated to the shoegazer/dream pop sound, also runs HybridElectric and he was the most enthusiastic about our music. It was great, but for the new album, we're really looking to hook up with a Canadian label."
Alongside Galloway, Hinterland is comprised of Kyle Fogden (guitar/keys/bass), John Lucas (guitar/baritone guitar/bass), Cameron McLellan (bass/guitar), and Gregg Steffensen (drums/percussion). A dense stew to be certain, but one that resonates with the boiled meat tang of the 4AD back catalogue, if you're willing to take a whiff. Recently, Hinterland also confirmed the influence by recording a cover of the Lush chestnut "For Love" for an upcoming UK-only compilation. Galloway says Lush and other British acts of the day definitely helped form her band's sound.
"I've always been really into the Cocteau TwinsůI think [Cocteaus' singer] Liz Fraser is an absolute genius. She was one of the first vocalists who sang pop music without standard vocals, or words even. I've always enjoyed the dreamy stuff like This Mortal Coil and Dead Can Dance, but my other favourite vocalist of all-time is Morrissey, and I obviously don't sound anything like him. It's a good mix because not everyone in the band is influenced by that kind of music. Kyle, for example, is more into the straight-forward indie rock. That's why Hinterland works; it's a total democracy and everybody is able to contribute their own part. There isn't that set sound we have to adhere to and we're able to avoid any friction."
Indeed, balancing bandmates means allowing your sound to evolve, and Hinterland are no exception to the rule as far as their newer compositions are concerned. Efforts were made to lay on the "rawk" while not loosing the textural magic that made "Waterline" a slowburn success. That album netted Hinterland airtime on CBC's ZeD and Much Music, plus it made a nifty dent in campus radio charts across Canada. Change may be good, but only within the injection mold established prior.
"Our new songs are a lot more concise," says Galloway. "The tracks on 'Under The Waterline' were all pretty longůon average, about six minutes or more. For the new album, I think the longest song might be six minutes and over all, the tracks are a lot more independent of one another. It's a bit heavier and a bit punchier. We thought there were moments on the first album that rocked but none of the reviews picked up on that. So there was definitely an effort to rock a bit harder while still sounding like Hinterland. Everything just sounds way bigger this time."
The new album from Hinterland will hopefully be on store shelves by mid-year and along side Ontario-based acts like Beneath Augusta, Wintary, and A Northern Chorus, there seems to be something of shoegazing renaissance going on within our home and native land. Call it good timing or call it good taste, you can be certain that any spoils reaped by Hinterland will be born of the heart rather than of the dollar sign.
"Hinterland is a bit of a weird band because we all have serious careers away from our music," says Galloway. "I'm doing my PhD in philosophy, plus I teach. Kyle is a lawyer. We have a journalist, somebody who works in advertising and film, and a guy who works for the Vancouver Operaůthere's more university degrees in this band than there are people. It means there isn't that urgency that a lot of bands feel, that desperation because we all have steady incomes from other sources. We have the luxury to invest time into the band, and make the kind of music we want to make."
Hinterland play on Friday, March 4th at Clinton's in Toronto as part of Canadian Music Week. For more information, please visit their official
web site: www.hinterland.bc.ca
Writer: Cameron Gordon