We back. After four weeks without playoff hockey and proper Mexican food, we are back in our home and native land. But when you give you get, and we were treated to a month’s worth of curries, cask ales, and most importantly, the chance to meet and play for some incredible music fans every night on the Be More Kind tour.
We are going to miss out gracious tour hosts Frank Turner and our tour mate Derek (aka the Homeless Gospel Choir). We actually loved Derek so much that we started a punk band with him. But we will be seeing them again real soon. And you should too. Derek and Frank both put on incredibly entertaining live shows and you absolutely need go to the show when they roll through your town.
For everyone back here in North America, we are getting ready for our festival shows this summer and putting the finishing touches on our new record. Stay tuned on more info on these happenings next month. More importantly, our wonderful manager Ashley was recognized with the Manager of the Year award at the Canadian Music Week LIMA Awards!
Needles to say we are thrilled for her. Ash is one of the smartest and hardest working people in music. She is also tirelessly positive and this couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person. Her hard work and amazing spirit makes everything better (and easier) for the five of us in the band. Congrats, MOTY, you deserve it.
UK Tour Week 4
May 9th, 2018
Photo Cred: Shot by Simmons
Just when we were getting used to the cool, grey weather that is so common here on the islands of the North Atlantic, the sun has come out and we’ve been treated to some pretty beautiful spring weather in London and Southend-on-sea over the past few days.
As always, the shows this week past have been a treat. In addition to Southend, we played the hollowed university towns of Oxford and Cambridge. Both of which put the architecture of Canadian universities (and Canada in general) to shame. This really shouldn’t be a surprise given both institutions were founded five hundred years before Canada was. The Corn Exchange in Cambridge is a refurbished old venue with a pretty rich musical history. It’s equally impressive that the same venue that hosted David Bowie, Oasis, Queen and Iron Maiden was also used to trade cattle. Which has given us a good idea for our next headline tour…
Oxford is a particularly special place to us because dear friend of the band/McMaster University history professor Dr. Mat Savelli, worked on both his MA and his PhD at St. Antony’s College. He is the one responsible for introducing the band British chocolate, betting shops and football (we’ve been to White Heart Lane twice) and in this case, the best places to check out in Oxford. We love him for it (amongst many other more important qualities).
This week we finish up our time here in the UK with shows in Hull, Norwich and London before heading back to North America on Sunday.
But most importantly this week, we want to give a special shout out to our tour host, Frank Turner, whose new record, Be More Kind, was released this past Friday. Be More Kind has become a fast favorite and been in heavy rotation in both the van and my phone all week. Frank and the band have made another fantastic record well deserving of both your attention and your support. Congrats to them on releasing another gem.
UK Tour Week Three
April 30th, 2018
Just like the centre of a Cadbury Cream Egg, we are into the creamy middle of our month-long UK and Ireland tour with Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. Typically, we are only in the UK for a few days, so this trip we’ve tried to take in as much of the country as possible. I promise that doesn’t just mean just trying new chocolate bars (although that is a big part of it). With a day off between shows in Exeter and Cambridge on Sunday, we went full tourist. We basically got as British as you could without getting into professional cricket.
On our way to Cambridge, we made a pit stop at Stonehenge to see for ourselves if we could solve the mystery of the gigantic, prehistoric stones. While we couldn’t come to agreement on how the stones got there or what they were used for (Max thinks it was the world’s oldest CrossFit gym), we were able to prevent a major accident – which wasn’t the case the last time we visited a World Heritage site and Mike almost fell into the Grand Canyon.
After Stonehenge, we participated in another very British tradition – our first Sunday roast. For those who aren’t from the UK, Sunday roast is a big dinner that Brits serve in pubs on Sunday afternoons. Think Christmas dinner – turkey, ham roast beef, taters, veg (see, we are becoming more British) and of course, Yorkshire pudding. Washed down with your favorite cask ale.
But our very British Sunday wasn’t the only extracurriculars we got up to this week. On Friday, we visited our namesake brewery in Swindon. And on Thursday in Liverpool we did all the Beatles-related things we could. Including firing our drummer. Just kidding, we would never do that, but we did visit the Beatles museum and the Cavern Club. If you’re wondering who got suckered into buying the most Beatles merch, the answer is very obviously Tony.
This week we head to England’s southwest for shows in Cambridge, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Leicester and Oxford. More updates to come.
UK Tour Week Two
April 24th, 2018
Photo Cred: Jess Baumung
We’re rolling into week two of our UK and Ireland tour and every thing is tippy top on the European side of the Atlantic. We spent the weekend in Scotland, playing in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, which for a bunch of Canadians, meant being in complete awe of all the architecture, history, bagpipes and Tesco’s. The shows were fantastic and it was a real treat to visit some cities that we’ve never had the opportunity to visit before.
Another really amazing element of the tour I think we should mention is that Frank Turner and the team have decided to cut the amount of plastic water bottles they are using on the road. When we arrived in Manchester, we had reusable canteens waiting for us, and instead of the typical cases of plastic water bottles, there are big water coolers around the venue that the band and crews can use to take a drink or fill up their bottle.
It’s probably not something you wouldn’t notice about a tour just from coming to a show (although Frank and the Sleeping Souls are all drinking from reusable bottles onstage), but it is something that I think we can all agree is important and makes a big difference in the fight against waste and environmental degradation. It’s been a big inspiration and something we are going to try and bring to our own touring operating moving forward. Hat tip to Frank and the gang for being less wasteful and keeping that rock and roll eco footprint as small as possible.
This week we’re back in England, playing Sheffield, Liverpool, Bristol and Exeter. See ya soon!
UK/Ireland Tour Kickoff
April 17th, 2018
Photo Cred: Adam Graves
Top o’ the mornin’ to ye, on this grey, drizzly afternoon. After landing in the UK and playing in Manchester on Friday night, we’ve officially kicked off our month-long UK/Ireland tour with Frank Turner and Homeless Gospel Choir. We are here in Dublin in the midst of the band’s first ever trip to Ireland. Unfortunately, the second show tonight had to be cancelled because Frank has come down with a pretty awful throat infection. Send good vibes his way. As you probably know, it takes a lot to get Frank to cancel a show. He’s a trooper. We’re all hopin’ he’s feeling better soon.
We’ve tried to make the most of the situation and our newfound day off in Dublin. Because I don’t have the constitution to drink whiskey at 12:30 pm and come out the other side alive, I decided to hang back but the rest of the guys did a tour of the Jameson distillery. In lieu of drinking whiskey, I spent some time walking through St. Stephen’s Green, one of the bigger green spaces in downtown Dublin.
Once the rest of the guys were good and day-drunk, I met Mike to walk through Trinity College and reminisce about our own college days at the far newer and less-gargoyle-y McMaster in Hamilton. The college is also home to the original Book of Kells, but we decided we’d rather not pay to see it given that you get a free one in every non-Super 8 Hotel you stay in.
Tour picks back up in Belfast tomorrow. Hope to see ya at a show soon.
April 9th, 2018
We’re excited to share a new song with ya: People’s Champ. We recorded the song last fall in Toronto, with Eric Ratz – the talented producer that we worked with on Knocking at the Door and several songs off our High Noon record. We got the whole gang to play on this one: the Northern Soul horns, the Arkettes, and a first for us; an auxiliary percussionist to play some bongos (don’t get mad at us, Arcade Fire paved the way for this kind of thing). We are currently putting the finishing touches on a new album and plan to release it sometime later this year.
In terms of the context of the song itself, as per Max:
“We’re all looking for leadership that is benevolent and generous, and truly has the will of the people in everything they do. We’re comforted every day by the people in our neighborhood who go the extra mile for their community – especially when they don’t have to. We love that person. This song is about the opposite of that: it’s about the guy who acts like Robin Hood, but is the farthest thing from it. But that’s OK: look around and you’ll find people’s champs all around ya.”
We’ve been practicing up and should be playing the new tune at all of our summer shows and on tour this month in the UK while we open for Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. Hope to see ya at a show soon.
Hamilton Show Update
March 14th, 2018
Late last week, we released some additional tickets for our show in Hamilton on June 23rd at Tim Hortons Field. These new tickets include some under $30 bucks for any deal-seekers that have to balance concert ticket purchases against tuition costs, newborn children, summer vacations and kidnapping ransoms.
We’ve also added some additional info to the website on some of our favorite places to eat in for any out of towners. I’ll make you a deal – if you try pizza from my favorite place (Mr. Grande) and Mike’s favorite place (Mattina’s) and you like Mike’s recommendation better, I’ll personally refund you your money.* We are very excited to get the chance to play at home this summer alongside some of our favorite other artists. We’ve also got a little write up on how we came to know and love them. We should be organizing more fun stuff around the show as time goes on so keep your eyes peeled for that.
In terms of more immediate business, next week we will be in Vancouver for the Junos. We will be playing on the TV broadcast Sunday night and appearing at Juno Fan Fest on Saturday afternoon. Given the season starts the following week, I will be drafting my fantasy baseball teams all weekend. Hope to see you there.
*cash equivalent in Blockbuster and Radio Shack gift cards.
March 2nd, 2018
When Tony and I were (rightfully) cut from the men’s Giant slalom ski team in late 2017, we had no idea that we’d still be going to the Olympics this winter. But like a lot of things in 2018, some stuff happened online and things went crazy. Last week, we got the opportunity to spend five days in South Korea during the Olympics.
We got to try all sorts of interesting Korean foods we hadn’t eaten before: some buckwheat noodle soup that is (maybe?) famous in Gangwon, the province where Peyongchang is located, this amazing dessert (we think are called something like dakkas?) that are crudely (this isn’t a food blog…yet), giant mozzarella sticks dipped with cinnamon and sugar. And then of course, authentic Korean BBQ. Multiple times. Aside from eating, we saw some long track speed skating, the Olympic Athletes from Russia play hockey and the men’s bobsled runs on Sunday.
The purpose of the trip was to play for the Canadian athletes in Korea, but what we didn’t realize that we would be playing WITH Canadian athletes in Korea. Justine Dufor-Lapointe, Jesse Lumsden, Tristan Walker, Scott and Tessa all came up to play a little guitar (or in Tristan’s case drums) and do a little singing with us during our show. We returned the favor and did karaoke with them afterwards.
This was the band’s first trip to Korea and definitely a once in a lifetime experience. We got to see and do things that not a lot of people in our position get to do. Everyone we met along the way was nothing short of wonderful to us and we couldn’t have been happier about getting the opportunity to go. Cross one off the bucket list that we didn’t even know was on there to begin with. We’re still smiling a full week later. Now we’re back at work in Ontario – we’re in the studio this week and should have a few more summer show announcements in the next few weeks as well. So stay tuned!
New Shows, New Music and Juno Noms
February 6th, 2018
Cred: Brendan Newfield
I hope that 2018 has been good to everyone so far. After a month in hibernation, we’ve got lots of news to share with ya. We are very excited to be heading to the UK this spring to support Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. We can’t wait to play with them on their home turf and crush all of the top notch UK chocolate you can’t get here in Canada. I’ll be bringing an extra suitcase I can fill with Galaxy Minstrels. Because the Roundhouse show with Frank sold out so fast, we will also be playing our own headlining show at Dingwalls in London on May 12 while we are in town. Tickets go on sale tomorrow.
We’ve also been in the studio for most of January working on some new music. I don’t wanna give too much away but Max is definitely dancing more with his arms than he normally does when listening back. Take that as you will. We’ve been eating of lot less A&W than we did during our first recording sessions for Jackson Square – hopefully our music has evolved as much as our dietary choices. We also have an big show announcement for closer to home (Southwestern Ontario) coming at the end of the week so keep your eyes and ears peeled for that.
Lastly, we found out this morning that we’ve been nominated for some Junos this year! We are so thrilled that they reflect and acknowledge all of the wonderful people that support us. Our talented and hard working collaborators: producer Eric Ratz, and directors Mark and Shane all received nominations. Our first inclusion in the fan choice category is extra special because it’s a reflection of all the wonderful support we’ve gotten from everyone who comes to shows, listens to our records and talks to us on twitter. We’re very lucky to have all of the support we do and we don’t take it for granted. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We will see ya in Vancouver.
December 20th, 2017
Photo: Jess Baumung
2017 was a strange year. You probably don’t have to think too hard to recall a lot of the not-so-great things that happened or are continuing to happen in the world. But in the face of difficult and trying times, we want to stay positive and grateful for the many small moments and experiences that made this year special as we roll up our sleeves and work towards a better 2018.
All and all, we got to spend the year doing something (video shoots notwithstanding) we really love – traveling and playing music together. It was shows at the Beacon Theater, Bud Gardens, Massey Hall and Coachella; playing with Frank Turner, Phoenix, Kendrick Lamar, and Neil Young; eating at Vanessa’s Dumplings, Ben’s Chili Bowl, the Elgin Street Diner and the million local coffee shops that Max was tweeting at your from. 2017 was a year full of great moments and opportunities.
It was also a year full of firsts for the band. Tim became a father. Tony made it back to Italy for the first time. We let Max drive the van. And Mike learned the true meaning of Christmas.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everyone who helped make our 2017 the year that it was. Whether you came out to a show, listened to our music, or answered your mom when she asked you “what’s an Arkell?” – we are so grateful for your support and want to wish you all the best for the holiday season. We hope that whatever you choose to celebrate, you get to do it with people you care about and in a way that is meaningful to you. In my case, this means crushing chocolate oranges and trying to beat my brother at video game hockey. So from our family to yours, happy holidays and all the best for 2018.