THE HIGH DIALS - IN THE A.M. WILDS
The High Dials are a Montreal-based band with a fluctuating line-up centred around founders Trevor Anderson and Robbie MacArthur. Their music is shaded with psychedelic, electronic and folk rock influences but firmly rooted in a timeless pop approach and sensibility.
In The AM Wilds is their fifth full-length album – one that could easily have never seen the light of day. “We were anxious to do something new creatively,” explains singer-songwriter Anderson. “We had been making music together for a while so there was talk of breaking up. In fact, we did lose some members. But in the end we came through all the questioning renewed and excited by change.”
It’s unusual nowadays for a band to endure - when acts were once expected to grow and change. And phones have shortened already short attention spans. How do you keep someone’s interest in earlier this morning never mind something from 2010? “Continuing as a band long-term has real challenges, but we just don’t buy into the current climate. Most of the bands we love evolved over many years and that is still the kind of project I want to be in. Even though we go on transforming there is still a continuity.”
Beyond the decision to continue as the High Dials were bigger questions – what kind of album did they want to make? There was eagerness to shake things up creatively and no hurry to put something out.
Working on soundtracks for two Montreal indie films had led the band to experiment, but any long-term band can slip into a comfort zone of lazy habits. That’s where producer Marc Bell (We Are Wolves, The Fugees) came into things. “Meeting Marc was huge because he really helped us stay fearless in moving forward. He knew nothing about our history. We were able to incorporate more of the influences that had always been there lurking but never really come through.”
The resulting work is surprising yet logical for those familiar with the band. While the trademark jangling guitars, harmonies and melodic sensibilities remain, “In the AM Wilds” sees the band exploring post-punk sounds and groove-based pop with palpable excitement and freedom. There is also a concept at play, as there usually is a with a High Dials album:
“The songs on this album were written as I was earning my living as a DJ and completely immersed in Montreal nightlife. That probably explains some of the groovier sounds and clubbing vibe, as well as the subject matter,” says Trevor the principal songwriter.
“But this is obviously not a party record. It’s about the visions and dreams that come to you in that state of mind, and that means everything from ecstasy to anxiety, yearnings of the highest and lowest form. The night appears as a wilderness, a world people get lost in for better or worse. In the dark things appear and your mind wanders… And sometimes it’s hard to find your way home.”
ALBUM NAME TRACKLIST
1. Echoes And Empty Rooms
2. Desert Tribes
4. Impossible Things
5. The Barroom Fisher King
6. Flower On The Vine
7. Amateur Astronomer
9. On Again, Off Again
11. Evil Twin
12. Club Stairs
13. Lake Of Light
14. Blank Spaces On The Map