The Story of Laundry Pile

It never ceases to amaze me how – and this is the only thing that really ever seems to be true – one thing leads to another. 

Let’s do this chronologically.

In the fall I had a bunch of demos that I was really only writing because it made me feel a bit better. I had never bothered to learn protools or logic, but had a bit of time on my hands and clumsily worked through some home-spun recordings in the basement. It ended up being more fun than I imagined and a good way to use my evenings. 

As I was recording on shoddy mics, barely understanding how any of this equipment worked, I was thinking about those raw ’70s Paul McCartney albums, and Bright Eyes, and Neil Young. Stuff that sounds imperfect but has heart and soul. 

In January the band had some time off and we decided to hang. We had a jam space lined up (we like to work in different environments), but it fell through at the last minute. I started calling around, and realized my neighbour Jim had a music making garage that I walk by every single day. He invited Nick and I over, and low and behold it was the most serene music making space we’d ever seen. Big windows. Nice piano. Some vintage gear. He doesn’t rent it out, but said “it’s for the neighbourhood.”

“The neighbourhood?” I asked.
“Well, I like people in the neighbourhood to use it, and you’re in the neighbourhood, so you can use it.”

At first we were going to do acoustic versions of Blink Once and Blink Twice. It fit the slow vibe of January.  About 45 minutes into jamming an acoustic version of “Liberation” (which sounded quite good I might add), we all agreed it might be more interesting to try something completely new. I had already sent the fall demos around, so we started there. By the end of January we figured we should be responsible and document the material because songs were beginning to take shape. The band was feeling very connected with one another and we were engaged in the work. Everything felt slower. We had no timeline. We had no agenda. It felt very stoned. We didn’t want to pep anything up too much. We weren’t looking to recycle versions of older songs. Together we were living in a world that embraced this new headspace.Early in the process, Mike suggested the goal of the session was to simply have our fingerprints all over the music. Lean into all of our individual musical personalities more than ever before. Musically this effort was the most band-directed thing we’ve done since Jackson Square, and you hear it in the performance. There’s little editing. Many of the final performances were from the first take. You can hear the little ghost-note taps on Tim’s hi-hat and the creaky piano pedals of Tony’s upright at home. There’s a lot of imperfections on the album, which was kind of the point.

During the recording I asked friends for some feedback. I was unsure about how far we should take the new direction. Chase from COIN gave the best notes for the title track. Anytime we were trying something that distracted from the lyric and the sentiment, he said it began to feel “less honest.” Honesty became the policy. I visited Ben from Lord Huron in his studio in LA and sheepishly played some very rough ideas, and he said “the songs are all in there. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect – you gotta trust that people will hear the songs.”

So we kept going. 

To finish the music we brought in our co-conspirators Eric Ratz and Derek Hoffman to keep the train on the tracks. Like any good producer, they understood this particular assignment: honour the songs. Honour the intimacy and the rawness.

Starting a record is one thing, but finishing it and figuring out if it is even worth the trouble of putting it out is another. 

In late March, we went over to our other neighbour Andrew’s garage who lives a few laneways over. Among other things, Andrew is a painter with a vibrant and original style. We asked if he might be able to make an original piece for an album cover. 

“What kind of design are you thinking?” He asked.
“How about a laundry machine, on fire, with a palm tree blowing in the wind and waves crashing against the beach” I replied. 
“No problem. I’ll get on it right away.”

It’s now sweater weather and this album feels just right. Releasing it in the season the songs were conceived. We are excited to put these songs to work and see what happens. With any luck, these intimate little vignettes might be part of someone else’s life. 

Laundry Pile is for the sentimental. It’s about having a wish that you know won’t come true. But all the things you learned along the way end up being the gift you really needed in the first place. 

Enjoy it, and see you on the road. 


Max, Mike, Tony, Tim, Nick

Meet “Laundry Pile”

Anyone who keeps a journal will tell you that writing is one of the best ways to work through the chapters of your life. Our new album Laundry Pile is a chapter that documents some of the messy parts that end up teaching you a lot: love, regret, desire, shame, and the longing to get it right. The title track is out first, and it’s a memory honouring the little moments that represent a true partnership.

A brand-new album was not in the works for Arkells. Having been steadily releasing new music over the last few years, we weren’t actively planning the next record to come this quickly. What became Laundry Pile caught us by surprise and began to take shape.

At the top of the year, Arkells got together with a goal to work on acoustic renditions of recent material, jam and hang out, but very quickly started ruminating on other little ideas. I brought in some demos I had been working on – they were little conversations with myself.  I had no expectations to do anything with the material, but then the band came to the rescue. It was very all-hands-on-deck. The more we meditated on the music, the more connected we became to the songs and to each other.

Much of our most recognizable material aims to be spirited and anthemic, but this collection of songs are more personal, pensive, and reserved. It’s the kind of album that is one cohesive listening experience – in keeping with the spirit of the classic singer-songwriter tradition that we also know and love.

After a few weeks, we looked at the white board with the growing number of songs scribbled on it and became excited to share these songs immediately. It was one of the most deeply creative experiences we’ve had as a band so far. It’s important to simply honour the moment you’re in, and that’s what we did.


In the fall of ’21, Tony sent over a Dropbox folder full of instrumental ideas. One of them was called “FrankTurnerFuckAround”. I didn’t think it sounded particularly like Frank – it sounded like Bruce Springsteen, which was just fine with me.

A few months later we were sitting backstage with Wesley and Jeremiah from The Lumineers before we performed together at The Grey Cup. People often think of them as a Denver band, but they’re actually from Jersey. We bonded with the guys talking about our favourite Springsteen songs and how we loved the last Bleachers record, and how that Jersey sound has been influential on Arkells.

A few weeks later we reached out to Wes, asking if he’d want to sing and write on the “FrankTurnerFuckAround” which was now called “Nowhere To Go”. He liked it, but didn’t love it yet. I appreciated his candor: he said that to write his verse and have an authentic connection to the material he wanted me to dig in a little more with my lyrics. I loved the challenge, and I got back with another draft.

He was in.

This is how much of the album came together: simply doing our best to piece together these songs as the world was opening up and shutting down again.

We didn’t know what do with the bridge either – a guitar solo? More lyrics? Since we were channelling Jersey, we figured we could go to the source: let’s reach out to Jake Clemons from The E Street Band. Maybe that could work? Clarence Clemons played the sax with Bruce until he passed, and Jake has since taken over the mantle from his late uncle. And dude can wail.

Jake got right to work and recorded his part from home in Montreal where he lives now. When he sent back his part we knew the song the was done.

Blink Twice is out now and it’s yours to have. Each song on the album has its own story of inception and creation.

Our Blink Once / Blink Twice project was meant to weather to storm of coming back from the pandemic. With the uncertainly of touring and the countless stops and starts, we wanted to make sure we’d have fresh music when we took it to the road; whenever that might be. It’s been a thrill to introduce these songs and to take them to a town near you. In a world of infinite options – playlists, tv shows, scrolling scrolling scrolling – a concert is a choice we make to spend real time with one another. There are not many holy places left like that kind of sanctuary! And that’s what these songs provide. A road to that experience.

See you in real life,

Xo Arkells

Full Speed Ahead To The Rally

Hamilton, all aboard! After the two years of endless hiccups and stops and starts, it’s time we treated ourselves to a big night out. The Rally is ON: June 25th, 2022, and we can’t wait to see you there.

If you bought tickets for the show that was slated in 2020, the same ticket will work as you come through the gates this year. Thank you for holding on to it for so long. It’s literally been years in the making.

If you’re just finding us now, good news: due to overwhelming demand, we’ve worked hard to make the show bigger than ever. We’ve just *ADDED* more floor tickets and opened up additional cheap seats up in the bleachers. Call your friends, this Rally is even bigger than the last.

Our 2018 show at Tim Hortons Field – the inaugural Rally – exceeded our expectations in every way so we knew we had to do it again.

From hand picking the lineup to collaborating with so many different local artists, small biz owners, charitable initiatives and local institutions like the HSR, the Hamilton bike share program, Hamilton Flea, and the Ticats – it was a joy to show off some of the best that Hamilton has to offer.

To our neighbours: if you’re walking, cycling or taking the bus – thank you for helping us host this thing and bringing all the good vibes.

To everyone making the trip to Hamilton: welcome to town! Whether you’re road tripping, or taking the Go Bus or flying in from overseas – we’ve got a good feeling this will be our best one yet.

If the last couple years have taught us something, it’s that we can’t take anything for granted. Nothing replaces *real life* memories. No amount of screen time at home can beat the joy of singing songs, surrounded by friends and new friends.

See you there. This will be the biggest show that’s ever hit Hamilton and we’re so proud we get to do this with you.

Xo Arkells

Blink Twice, There’s Gunna Be A Reckoning

As we stayed busy making music during the last two years, we always knew we were going to come out of the pandemic with two distinct records. The title of Blink Once was born from the song Reckoning, and the lyric “blink twice, there’s gonna be a reckoning.” If you listen to the outro track of Blink Once – Last Night I Heard Em’ Sing – we hint that there’s more coming. Kind of like a post-credits scene in a movie. Reckoning is the beginning of what’s next.

If we’re being honest, Reckoning is an “eat the rich” song. The song is about privileged people who bury their heads in the sand. It’s also about the admiration for those who lead by example, and want justice for people beyond their own kin.

We wanted the song to be big and cinematic. Something that felt like walking through the streets at nighttime. We were inspired by everything from Justice to Run The Jewels. At this point in our career as musicians, we only wanna go where inspo takes us.

We’re back on the road for our first shows of 2022 in a couple weeks. Get ready to sing this one loud.



You know when you go to the theatre and the cast comes out at the end of the night and they start thanking everyone who was working behind the scenes to make the show happen? They’re usually all teary eyed, and begin motioning to the orchestra pit, the director, and the lighting person while mouthing “bravo!” and “thank you!” It’s usually quite an emotional affair. If you’ve never been a part of a production, you might think the cast is faking this celebration.

After The Grey Cup this weekend… we get it. The halftime show was truly like nothing we’ve ever done before, yet it was also the combination of all of the friendships and creative partnerships we’ve formed and learned from over the years. Mike, Nick, Anthony, Tim and I are very grateful for everyone we got to collaborate with.

We had a little under a month to put together the show. And we worked on it every day to get every detail right. We started with the setlist as the foundation of everything and then built it up from there. K.Flay signed up immediately for the occasion and The Lumineers confirmed shortly after. We wanted a level of musical collaboration you haven’t seen at past halftime shows. Both acts couldn’t have been more gracious, collaborative, and inspiring.

We’ve done so much with The Northern Soul Horns and Arkettes that we’ve developed a shorthand with each other. As a unit, the goal is to bring as much emotion, musicality, charisma, and joy as you have. The big soul band that we are feels unstoppable. They were up for the occasion in every possible way.

We also brought a choreographer – a first for us! Omega Mighty (the sister of Haviah – our tour mate) guided all of the group movement for the set. None of us are accomplished dancers, but we all committed to moving together. If you’ve seen David Byrne and The Taking Heads you know that you don’t need to be Beyoncé to dance. You just have to care.

We also worked with Alex and Marie Nadon – the team that heads up InFrame design. They helped shape our goals and turn any obstacles (example: no fans on the field) into visually stunning moments (“let’s build a grandstand *behind* the stage and get the fans in the frame!”).

Our stylist Caitlin made us all look fabulous. Our photographer Nathan and videographer Korey captured all the key moments. Our touring crew Jordan, Ryan, Ryan, and Chris made sure all the instruments were working right. Eric has the job (among other things) of herding a bunch of cats (us) and he does it with a smile.

The folks at the CFL, TSN, PRP and Tim Hortons Field were accommodating in every way. From the announce video, to the promo, to the set itself, they were supportive and allowed us to lead on all fronts.

Tony, Mad, Jeffrey and the crew at Universal Music have been working on “Arkells + Grey Cup halftime show” for a few years. You can imagine there’s a fair amount of politicking when it comes to choosing the entertainment, and the stars aligned this year. We wanted to make em’ proud.

Our manager Chris connected the dots with The Lumineers and first introduced the idea of having them up. Sarah took care of all the pesky details. And of course Ash had eyes on literally all of it. She was in communication with literally every single person I’ve mentioned here. This doesn’t happen without her hall-of-fame level of attention to detail.

So this is us, at curtain call, standing at the front of the stage, all teary eyed, thanking everyone who poured their heart and soul into making the halftime show what it was. You can re-watch it here. We’re super proud of it. Hope you enjoyed every detail. 

Thank you! 

108th Grey Gup Hometown Halftime Show

At long last, we’re thrilled to announce we’re playing Canada’s largest annual sporting & television event – THE GREY CUP – headlining halftime in our hometown this December 12th. The point of our band has always been to bring people together. Canadians from coast-to-coast will descend on Hamilton for this event, and millions across the country will be taking it in from home. After the challenges of the past 20 months, we’re honoured to be the band that gets music and sports fans back to singing and dancing.

Given our history with this city, venue and fanbase, this announcement may not come as a total surprise, but we’re working long and hard on how to make this special. We’re exceptionally proud to be the first homegrown act to headline their city’s Grey Cup halftime time show and we’re already working hard at the drawing board. Rehearsals started this week, and it feels amazing to be together and sinking our teeth into something entirely new.

We’ll catch you at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton on Sunday, December 12. The broadcast will air nationwide on TSN, starting at 6 PM EST. A limited number of tickets are available at If you’re lucky enough to be in the stands, consider it a pep-rally to The Rally. We’re back baby.

xo Arkells


You’ve been waiting patiently for the return of live music. We’ve been dreaming big about playing for you. FINALLY! The best live show in town is coming for you.

Blink Once released last week and is still sparkly and new. We didn’t want to release our record until we knew we could hit the road and sing these songs together. We snuck in a few shows this summer and it was an amazing feeling. Our live show is a craft we’ve developed over the years from touring. The way each show builds on the last is how we evolve and grow. YOU are the reason we tour. The chance to sing and dance and share a moment together is something we will never take for granted.

Blink Once tour dates have been announced in Canada, USA, UK and Germany and are listed HERE. If you don’t see your city listed, may we suggest a vacation? Rest assured, we will stay busy. This is only the beginning, and more dates will come.

In addition to singing your hearts out with your pals, we want to make sure our fans feel safe at the shows. Based on the consistent findings from our healthcare community, we proudly support the vaccine and accompanying regulations to keep our most vulnerable safe. As a courtesy to all guests, full vaccination is required to enter the shows. We want to move forward together, and take care of each other. 

Can’t wait to make new memories with you,
Xo Arkells

Blink Once is Here

We like working. We like working because the day we started writing and recording songs, the high of listening back to a demo and feeling like it had potential to *be something* is the best possible feeling. We keep chasing that. 

But for Blink Once, we very deliberately tried to change our process.  We started working on it as soon as Rally Cry came out, and the initial demos felt too familiar. The songs had little mystery, and to get excited about a song you need it to feel kind of foreign. We knew we needed a new path. 

So we found inspiration in new cities and new voices in the room. Songwriting and production came from unexpected places. There was more collaboration within the band than ever. But also more independence. Everyone in the band has their own home DIY studio, and lots of nuggets came from the guys tinkering for hours on their own. 

We left LA in February 2020 and had about 80% of the record done. We figured we’d come back and finish it in the spring and it’d be out by the fall. But of course it wasn’t meant to be. When the pandy hit, we put it aside, made Campfire Chords at home, and committed to releasing the record only when we knew we could play it live. There are big old songs that need YOU singing along.

Blink Once is about resilience. It’s about grieving with loss and fall outs and finding your way back. The making of the album began before the pandemic, but the material seems to hit harder after everything we’ve been through over the past 18 months. These songs are about finding comfort in your family, community and music. 

We snuck in a few shows this summer, and it was everything we needed to remember what it’s like – but better. Rest assured, we’ll be coming through your town soon.

Last but not least, special love to the memory of Barbara Tatham and Roy Veerman and their families. You hear Barbara’s voice in the interlude after Strong, and Roy’s sons Mike and Greg reflecting on their dad in the interlude before Arm In Arm. We are the product of our community, and those folks shape who we are.




Our triumphant return to live music – aka our first shows back onstage, after 16 months, will be August 13th, 14th and 15th for three back-to-back, once-in-a-return-from-pandemic history making nights at Toronto’s Iconic Budweiser Stage

It’s been a long haul, but we kept telling ourselves to be patient – when shows come back, we’re going to do it big, and we’re going to do it right. And that time is now. These shows are billed as ARKELLS LONG WEEKEND because it’ll feel like a celebration that we’ve yearned to have together. There’s no better place for it.

Tickets go on-sale Friday July 16th at 10 AM.

These will operating as reduced capacity shows in accordance with provincial regulations – so hop to it!

More dates are coming. We will start practicing now – see you in 4 weeks!


Max, Tim, Mike, Anthony, Nick