Four and a half years can be a long time to wait for anything.
Darcy Hancock knows that all too well. It’s been four and a half years since Hancock, lead guitarist for Vancouver’s reigning grit-rockers, Ladyhawk, released Shots. Now the four band members are ready to release No Can Do, their blistering third full-length.
Yet Hancock wasn’t feeling refreshed and excited before the recording of No Can Do. Instead, he insists he’d found his breaking point with the wait, and took matters into his own hands.
“I was sick of talking about (our next record),” says Hancock after a hike through Deep Cove.
“We didn’t really have a place to jam, which was a big hindrance, but I just booked studio time because I knew (Duffy Driediger, lead vocals/guitar) had songs and we played a few shows to pay for it. We hadn’t really put together anything in the studio before. It was really fun and came together quite quickly. I was pretty stressed going in that way, though. In the past, I preferred to be more confident going in.”
Though Hancock and Ladyhawk were flying by the seat of their pants recording No Can Do, the intense and unsettled nature of the recording served the songs that much better.
“In the past, (Driediger) would come with new songs and we would talk through it a bit more, usually make it longer, add a jam in the middle. This time we didn’t have a space we felt comfortable writing in, so we kept with his short-and-to-the-point songs. It was hard, at first, because there isn’t really room for solos, and that was our formula before.”
In the end, the band recovered and did so by adhering to the formula for which Ladyhawk live shows have become famous: unrivalled, loud exuberance.
“Studio writing was a really good time,” notes Hancock. “We could hear exactly what the song needed instead by playing loud in a room together and not really ever knowing exactly what is going on.”
It appears, then, that Ladyhawk hasn’t lost their deft touch to combine heavy riffs and melodic touches. If, as a band, they’ve been able to pick up where they left off musically from 2008’s Shots, there were still aspects of the band that demanded improvement.
The intensity of their live shows rubbed off on the band’s overall approach to touring and relationships fell by the wayside. Hancock insists they had to mend relationships before continuing.
“Time flew by,” he says of the four-year break between records. “It didn’t really feel like four years. I guess, for a while, our band took the back burner and we became friends again. Bands can get pretty unfriendly when you work as hard as we did. Touring the way we used to was extremely unhealthy.”
Now, with No Can Do in their pocket, Ladyhawk will hit the road with a renewed sense of purpose and a better understanding on what makes their band work.
“We played a few outdoor summer shows in Vancouver and throwing in new songs was refreshing for us. I hope it was for the audience, too, but who knows? It was a little tricky re-learning them after recording.”
While Hancock admits they’ve had to fall back into the groove, it’s likely they’ll be able to pick up where they left off. It is still, after all, the same Ladyhawk.
“Though things have changed in our music, it’s still the four of us and it hasn’t seemed strange mixing the old with the new live.”
Ladyhawk hit up Wunderbar in Edmonton on Thrusday, October 18 before heading to Broken City in Calgary on Saturday, October 20. No Can Do is out through Triple Crown Recordings on October 9.
By Joshua Kloke