By Allegra Chiarella
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are is the title of Canadian rock band 1971’s upcoming debut album – as well as a favorite saying of former bassist, Cameron “Cran” Cranston, who passed away earlier this year. The band’s three remaining members have decided to pursue separate paths in his absence, but will reunite this December for one final show where they will release the full-length album, as a tribute to their bandmate and friend.In February 2017, the group was about to finish their recording for the album when Cranston passed away unexpectedly. Drummer Jory Strachan, lead singer Garrett Iverson and guitarist Tanner Neill returned home to Kenora to be with their families and loved ones, and the three decided to part ways as each member took time to grieve.
Cranston and Iverson started playing together in the winter of 2011 in an effort to keep cabin fever at bay. Strachan, who had jammed with Cranston periodically, was also brought into the mix, and the three finally gave themselves the label they’d been avoiding up until that point: a band. After writing a handful of songs and playing a couple shows, Strachan decided that it was time to take the new project on the road, and promptly booked a two-month tour. It was a rocky start: “We spent all our money – I’d never seen Garrett more miserable in my life.” Iverson quit for a brief period following that first tour, but the three weathered the break and 1971 soon picked up where it had left off.
The band continued to evolve over the years following, adopting childhood friend Tanner Neill on guitar and developing a darker, post-punk sound. Strachan and Iverson moved to Winnipeg while Cranston and Neill stayed in Kenora, forcing the band to adjust to a long-distance relationship. “Cran was going to school so he’d drive up every Tuesday and Thursday,” Strachan says, “And that was when we’d rehearse. We were a little hesitant at first, because we’d taken such a long break, but it started feeling really good – we just got back into it.”
In late 2016, the band began recording material for a 14-song LP, their most ambitious endeavour to date. The album would feature some of Iverson’s darkest, most honest writing yet, and experiment with a wider range of instruments, from trumpets to pedal steel guitars. No Matter Where You Go, There You Are will consist of the songs that were completed before Cranston’s passing.
The album’s title is one of what the band affectionately call “Cran-isms,” and in many ways serves as a perfect summary of Cranston’s approach to life. “I remember, when one of us was feeling bad,” Iverson explains, “He would always say that. It was like, ‘you can’t run away from your problems – no matter where you go, there you are.’” This sobering thought also implies the hopeful promise that familiarity and comfort can be found anywhere, particularly in the chosen family with whom you surround yourself. “Cran would always say to us, ‘We’re not friends, we’re brothers,’” according to Strachan. “We’d fight like brothers, but cared about each other like brothers too.”
Strachan and Iverson credit 1971’s steady tour schedule for strengthening this bond, from their initial two-month marathon to their last expedition out east in 2016. “Our formative years were spent together,” says Strachan, “and it’s crazy now, looking back, how important that was – it kind of incubated a family.” Both Iverson and Strachan agree that despite Cranston’s introverted nature, he had a remarkable ability to bring disparate people together, through his genuine fascination with life. “He brought a lot of people together, brought a lot of people closer,” says Strachan, “and I don’t think he even realized that he did that.”
1971’s final show will take place on December 23rd at the Goodwill, and feature 12 different bass players in Cranston’s place as well as other friends of the band on additional instruments. The band will then return to their hometown of Kenora for a show on the 29th at the Kenora Curling Rink. All proceeds from the shows will go to the North End Women’s Centre in Winnipeg, and the Kenora Sexual Assault Centre.
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are will be available not only on CD and cassette, but also vinyl, which had apparently been a long-standing dream of Cranston’s. “He would tell us, ‘My dream is to have this…’ and they’d always be these totally attainable things – but it was telling of how humble of a person he was.” Pressing vinyl is an expensive pursuit, and an often unreturned investment, but one that the band considers worth it: “We’re putting it out to have our last thing together documented, out there in the world – to kind of immortalize another piece of Cran.”