Published Jul 01, 2012"It feels like a celebration," says Wintersleep drummer-guitarist Loel Campbell, soaking up the pre-release atmosphere of the band's fifth record, Hello Hum. "It feels different. Everybody's handled their nerves and feels more comfortable with being a band, and being OK with that, you know?"
It was hardly a walk in the park to get here, but having long outgrown their small town roots in Halifax, NS, Wintersleep cement themselves as national treasures on Hello Hum, vaulting skywards with elegantly captured tunes infectious enough to wreak a sonic epidemic. Naturally, confidence has never been higher.
That's thanks in part to signing with EMI's Capitol Records wing. Take their enlistment of psych-pop producer Dave Fridmann, whose kaleidoscopic, retina-scorching work with the Flaming Lips and MGMT lines him alongside indie rock's most wanted. It was in his Tarbox Road Studios that Wintersleep played around with purpose-built sound rooms, "weird synths" and circuit-bent Casios like deprived kids given keys to the toy factory, taking their time to channel resources into something special.
"That studio has an endless amount of gadgets," Campbell enthuses. "At the start of the first song, the hooting and the hawing is Paul into a blowhorn with a kazoo. There's this ultimate freedom to create unique, quirky sounds for the record. It's the watermark of it, I guess."
Don't just take his word for it: Nothing says "Fridmann-induced freak-out" better than album opener, "Hum," a thing of distracted beauty that bristles with the collective energy of a well-oiled unit operating fast and free. The song "represents the essence of the band" and yet stands a country mile from the somnolent anthemics of old ― the post-rock-gaze of 2007 breakthrough Welcome to the Night Sky, or 2010's indie-pop manual New Inheritors ― while shouting from the rooftops of Wintersleep's persistent vitality, over a decade on from inception.
With confidence brewing, you might expect to hear clinking glasses. But seven years of constant touring behind them, not to mention the departure of bassist Jud Haynes in 2007, Campbell points out it took an 18 month break between 2010's New Inheritors and Hello Hum for the splintered five-piece to reassemble the pieces. "Being in the touring circuit, you're gonna lose track of the fundamental elements of why you play music. But this year we spent time the way we used to: being hobbyists with music. We're back to hanging out together, as opposed to hanging out because we had a show."
"Everybody feels a bit more settled in where they are, where their lives are at now," Campbell reflects, teetering between modesty and bewilderment at the Juno winners' ascent. "I feel super incredibly lucky to be able to get to work with somebody like Dave Fridmann or [Belle & Sebastian producer] Tony Doogan. There's so much music released now, it's still shocking for people to get excited about music we made. With so many artists making great records in their bedrooms and apartments, we're in a situation where we can work with people like Dave and Tony, and it's a great learning experience."