by Andrew Friesen
Winnipeg band Eagle Lake Owls release their debut EP today, so Stylus spoke with frontman Andy Cole to discuss the trio’s twangy new album and what they’ve got planned for the year.
Stylus: Your songs are described as being about “small town life, long winters and endless summers, filtered through a dusty car window.” Being from around the country, but having found your way to Winnipeg – what outside the perimeter inspires you?
Andy Cole: I grew up in a small Ontario town along Lake Erie, and for a while we lived right next to the beach. I got to see how it looked in every season, and Winter just seemed to inspire me the most. The ice would build up on the shore into this moonscape of hills and craters. Later, I lived in northern Alberta and I draw a lot from the summers there – that far North, there’s a palpable feeling of needing to squeeze the most out of the warm days you get. The other main inspiration is the flat, largely empty expanse of highway between those places. Rolling through those tiny clusters of houses that dot the prairies, knowing where you are by reading the name on the grain elevators.
Stylus: Andy, you’ve been playing as Eagle Lake Owls since 2010, but eventually hooked up with Dominique and Nathan – and solidified your lineup this past October. Has that changed how you approach songwriting?
AC: It has changed the songwriting approach, and the process is still changing. I think it comes from beginning as a solo act, but I was wary of letting any of the songs be defined by other instruments. In my head I was always worried “Well, what if I have to play this as a solo again? If the best part is the harmony, or the cello, then the songs don’t stand on their own.” I’ve been more comfortable to let the songs exist as “the band” lately, and the collaboration has made a huge difference. The new songs we’ve been writing sound fuller and more organic, and are stronger for it.
Stylus: Your first EP is being released today and you’ve got a release party at the Exchange Community Church later this week. The Uniter also listed you as one of Winnipeg’s bands to watch – what else do you have planned for the year?
AC: We’re finishing up a music video for “Little Brittle Bones,” which should be ready very soon, and we’re incredibly excited for it! It was filmed at the Oikos Co-op mansion on Wellington with our friend Callie Morris. We did some footage inside, and had some very cool kids do stuff out on the frozen river. We’re also cramming into my car and going on tour through Ontario & Quebec this summer. We hit the road May 31st!
Stylus: I’ve got to say, the first song on your EP – “Little Brittle Bones” – is fantastic, and seems especially appropriate for this time of year as the province begins to thaw out. What can you tell me about the track?
AC: “Little Brittle Bones” is about childhood and being afraid of adulthood and the feelings that come with it. I was a shy kid, and while I wanted to grow up and be my own person, I was afraid of my feelings a lot. In the song, a young boy and girl run away and live in a snow fort all Winter, and when Spring comes, the girl expresses these feelings she’s having for him. The boy was just out for adventure and the fun of being on their own, and now there’s this complication, and he realizes you can’t grow up on your own terms. It just happens to you.
Stylus: With the busy summer festival season coming up, what are your top three picks for albums to play while heading out on the road to Manitoba festivals?
AC: We have favourite ‘Summer’ albums that we’ve been planning to take on tour via Nathan’s iPod. The top three, in no order:
1. Transistor Sound & Lighting Co – self titled (I only listen to this in the Summer)
2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
3. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Eagle Lake Owls release their EP at the Exchange Community Church Saturday April 6. Federal Lights & Man the Selector are supporting. Tickets are $10 don’t miss out!