Published Sep 09, 2010Fans of Vancouver twee popsters the Salteens have had to be patient over the past seven years, since the group haven't released an album since 2003's Let Go of Your Bad Days. In recent years, the band have been hinting at a return, releasing a small handful of new tracks and appearing on the kids' TV show Yo Gabba Gabba!. Now, they're making the comeback official: following this spring's Moths EP, the Salteens are getting set to release a new LP, Grey Eyes, on October 12 via Boompa.
Speaking on the phone with Exclaim!, frontman Scott Walker explains that the the long break between albums was the result of personal upheavals in the band members' lives. "It was a common theme amongst all our friends [that] we all had parents pass away," he reveals. "Priorities change, you have to grow up in a hurry.
The group remained in limbo for several years, at times attempting to write new music, but never producing album-quality material. "At one point we did actually break up," Walker says. "I joked that I fired everyone one day and I didn't tell them. I fired my girlfriend twice."
Eventually, the musicians' lives settled enough to begin working on new tracks. "This record was definitely a process of baby steps," the singer observes. "I'd play songs for Carrie [Tennant]. Then we'd go over to our bass player Kevin [Cooper]'s house, because we'd be over there watching TV anyway, because he's the one who has cable. And we'd play some songs."
Walker estimates that the process took a year and a half. Looking back on it now, he describes it as "a very depressing record." Certainly, Grey Eyes has its share of heavy moments: "Weird Times" begins with mournful horns and tinkling glockenspiel, as the singer addresses his mother's struggle with Alzheimer's, asking "What's a mind that can't recall what we both share?" The closing ballad, "Don't Break My Heart," is similarly downtrodden.
Still, the record also has its uplifting moments: "Last Train from London" is laden with triumphant horns and joyous AM pop melodies, while "Everything They Know About Us" recalls "Penny Lane" with its quirky piano pop bounce.
The Salteens saved some of their happiest material yet for the upcoming Kid Songs EP, a six-track collection containing songs like "Have a Nap Mom" and "I Love My Cat" that are specially aimed at kids. To help promote the release, the group will be participating in this month's Yo Gabba Gabba! tour, with stops in a number of cities across Canada (see the schedule below). The EP will be available here starting September 7.
Working on children's music, Walker says, helped to inspire the more emotionally nuanced material on Grey Eyes: "Doing these kids songs, we figured we hit on the Salteens formula - we've got it down now. We kind of went as far as we could with that 'handclaps, tambourine, horns coming in on the second verse, big, thick solo and breakdown after' - y'know, there's a formula. We finally perfected it."
He adds, "To do this record, we tried to break that apart again."
Fans can hear the Salteens' new approach when Grey Eyes arrives on shelves next month. For a sneak peek, head to the group's Bandcamp page to download the single "If Love Is Gone Where Do We Go from Here."
1. "Last Train from London"
2. "You're Taking All of This Too Far"
3. "Everything They Know About Us"
4. "Weird Times"
5. "Hallowed Ways"
6. "Savings and Loans"
7. "If Love Is Gone Where Do We Go From Here"
8. "Go On"
9. "You Stayed Up with the Lights On"
10. "Don't Break My Heart"
1. "I'm So Happy"
2. "Be Nice to Animals"
3. "All My Friends Are Different"
4. "Count on My Hands"
5. "Have A Nap Mom"
6. "I Love My Cat"
9/9 Calgary, AB - Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium *
9/9 Calgary, AB - The Marquee Room
9/11 Vancouver, BC - Queen Elizabeth Theatre (1 PM) *
9/11 Vancouver, BC - Queen Elizabeth Theatre (4 PM) *
9/12 Vancouver, BC - Queen Elizabeth Theatre (1 PM) *
9/12 Vancouver, BC - Queen Elizabeth Theatre (4 PM) *
9/12 Vancouver, BC - Falconetti's
9/14 Regina , SK - Brandt Centre *
9/15 Winnipeg, MB - MTS Centre *
9/18 London, ON - John Labatt Centre (1 PM) *
9/18 London, ON - John Labatt Centre (4 PM) *
9/19 Kanata, ON - Scotiabank Place (1 PM) *
9/19 Kanata, ON - Scotiabank Place (4 PM) *
* Yo Gabba Gabba! tour