Sam Roberts Band heads to City

Canadian rockers the Sam Roberts Band is set to take the stage in Red Deer next month.

The band plays the Memorial Centre Oct. 26. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Though the Sam Roberts Band may be named for its singer and primary songwriter, Roberts has long relied on his inner circle — guitarist Dave Nugent, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Fares, bassist James Hall and drummer Josh Trager — to translate his ideas into sound. And on Collider, the newly minted album released this past spring, that circle expanded to include Chicago-based producer Brian Deck, a veteran of acclaimed indie-rock bands Red Red Meat and Ugly Casanova, but also a seasoned studio savant who’s overseen albums by everyone from Modest Mouse to Iron and Wine to Califone to Gomez. In other words, someone who values classic pop song craft and disorienting sonic experimentation in equal measure.

“I wrote these songs in my basement,” said Roberts of the band’s new album. “But I really wanted to get out there and experience a different place and see how that would work its way into the music. We also wanted to work with a producer who was going to challenge our understanding of ourselves and the music that we were making.

“I heard the Modest Mouse records that Brian made, which I thought were great. But then I started listening to Califone, who are an offshoot of Red Red Meat — the band Brian himself was in back in the ’90s — and there was just something that clicked there for me, especially his treatment of rhythm and sounds. I just thought his would be an interesting way of reinterpreting what it was that we were doing, without necessarily tampering with the essence.”

Initially, the Sam Roberts Band’s move to Chicago’s Bucktown neighbourhood in the fall of 2010 didn’t feel all that dislocating; as Roberts added, “It really reminded me of a Montreal neighbourhood. I felt really at home there — we basically developed a routine and visited the same coffee shops and breakfast spots every day, to the point where they’d roll their eyes when we walked through the front door.”

But the nature of Collider began to change dramatically as Roberts became more acquainted with the cast of eccentrics surrounding Deck’s Engine Music Studios.

“On this record, I tried to bring the songs back to my own personal fears; I wasn’t necessarily trying to come up with songs that were going to speak for everybody. It doesn’t necessarily have to follow my life to the letter — it’s more about thinking of what your life would be like if you had just done this, or if you had just done that, and how this could’ve taken you to a darker place, or that could’ve taken you to a better place. Nevertheless, you always find yourself walking the line.”

And that’s ultimately what Collider is about for Roberts — musical exploration as a vehicle for emotional introspection. Despite what the album’s opening track might tell you, this is not the last crusade he’s on — but the point is that it should feel like it.

“There’s got to be some desperation to your writing,” said Roberts. “You’ve got to maintain that feeling of survival — that you can lose your grip at any time. That’s where songs like these come from — from the realization that you can never figure it out completely, that your grip can never hold on forever. It’s always there every time I sit down to write. That’s why the record is called what it is: ideas collide, especially when you’re making music. But when you take things that are seemingly different, you can smash them together and create something new.”

Tickets for the band’s Red Deer show can be purchased at www.ticketcentraloutlet.ca.

-Fawcett

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