By Brittany Rudyck
EDMONTON — The last year has been a test in balancing artistic fulfillment and, in ways, material success for Edmonton’s Provincial Archive. The trio’s eclectic twang, thoughtful lyrics and simple expression of what it means to have fun musically, have catapulted them heavily onto the European radar, as well as set them up as poster boys for indie music nationwide. Despite their successful five or so years as a band, they’ve had hoops to hop through, like every other group trying to ensure the world is exposed to their music. Since busting through said hoops, Provincial Archive have grown even closer to their own music in a way that finally feels authentic to them. It seems as though they’re ready to do things the way they’ve always dreamed as artists.
With the upcoming release of their self-titled six-song release, they’re ready to break away from any preconceived notions of how to show up in the world as musicians, and show us who they really are. With the recent departure of Nathan Burge, who chose to pursue his photography career, they’re reentering the game with renewed vigour and passion for the craft. Provincial Archive lives on as a power trio with Bramwell Park (drums, banjo, guitar and vocals), Stephen Tchir (upright and electric bass, guitar, keys and vocals) and Craig Schram (vocals, guitar, piano and banjo).
BeatRoute chatted with Schram to get to the heart of this exciting transition. He lit up talking about the new album’s recording process, elaborating, “Our keyboard player left three weeks or a month before we went into the studio to record these tunes. We went into the studio where we recorded the last one, and we tracked the band live, which was really awesome. No click, Bram wasn’t wearing headphones; we were just there, looking at each other playing our songs. There’s room to breathe. There’s a real joy in playing and performing it. We think the record is awesome.”
This new organic approach to the recording process comes after their exposure and experience within the music industry and finding out where they fit in to it, all while maintaining their creative integrity. It was becoming apparent to them after the creation of previous albums, that something within the dynamic of the band began to crave more room to breathe. Schram elaborates: “Since the beginning, it’s been kind of complicated. I feel like we spent a lot of time designing our songs and the sonics of them in the studio. That’s cool and rewarding, but after a while, I feel like there’s a bit of a missed personal connection among us as players almost. So, doing this live thing, it was just playing the songs. We went in, wanting a rock n’ roll recording, so we went and did that. We’re very pleased about how it turned out.”
Their previous effort, 2014’s It’s All Shaken Wonder combines classic indie pop seasoned with elements of Seattle’s Shins; synthesizers and evocative vocals and all. As for their next release, they’re saying it sounds like a completely different Provincial Archive stylistically and tonally, but that’s all we get until it’s released to the public!
Schram mentioned the new sound somewhat mysteriously, hinting, “I think it sounds very different. I’m sure there will be some people that say, ‘Hey, this isn’t your band!’ That’s cool; that’s great! We’ve never done the same thing over and over again, so we’re very proud of it.”
Another new experience for the band in the creation of this recording was the choice to release it under their own banner. The artistic independence appeared liberating as Schram lit up while talking about their latest endeavour: “We’re releasing it on our own. So, we’re really excited about that, and I think this is the best recording experience of my life, and I think Bram and Steve’s as well. I love music. I love consuming that and sifting through what is bullshit and what is real. With the music we’re making now, we’re focusing on making music. Simple. When we left the studio, we knew it felt good.”
While the winter months will be spent getting the word out about the new recording and playing a few shows locally, their plans for spring include a Canadian and potential European tour. Always a unique experience for the group, touring Europe has yielded an awareness of the vast cultural differences between Canadian and European music and arts lovers. Schram observed the difference in attitude towards arts and culture adding, “It’s not like Canadians don’t care about music. There are just fewer of us.”
Look out for the Provincial Archive on November 20th at the Nite Owl in Calgary for their official album release party. Edmonton gets to hear it December 18th during the annual Christmas party. Details TBA.AB, Alberta, Nite Owl, The Provincial Archive