By Brett Sandford
CALGARY — “I first met Danny at Sled Island 2011 by sneaking backstage and drinking his beer,” laughs Miesha Louie of her first meeting with Danny Farrant, current drummer of The Buzzcocks. “I ended up being his tour guide for the rest of the festival.” Now, five years later the U.K.-based Farrant is returning the favour, this time as Louie’s tour guide. The guy who’s been travelling the world playing “What Do I Get” and “Ever Fallen in Love,” along with frequent collaborator Paul Rawson, has landed double duty in the producer chair and behind the mixing board of Miesha & the Spanks’ upcoming 7”: Stranger.
Farrant and Rawson aren’t the only new blood answering the call for the Spanks’ first vinyl release since 2013’s Girls, Like Wolves. Drummer Sean Hamilton (Jenny, Julius Sumner Miller), who originally planned to round out the two-piece in a short-term auxiliary role, felt an immediate connection with both Louie’s previous catalogue and the songs poised to become Stranger. “I was really nervous when I started. I learned probably 12 songs in two days for a show to cover, then when I showed up, Miesha was just like, ‘Play them however you feel it.’ The style that Miesha plays makes me feel like I’m 15 years old again, just pounding my drums in the basement,” beams Hamilton of his beats that swirl between driving Queens of the Stone Age-style rhythms and ‘60s pop familiarity. “I try to either accent the hell out of the parts or stay perfectly flat so they can just live on their own. There’s no middle ground.”
It’s this natural feeling resonating through the title track and B-side “Motorin’” that makes the 7” such a step forward for the band. “I feel really re-energized about the whole thing,” smiles Louie of the finished product. Stranger sees the band making confident adjustments from the head-on rock-and-roll stylings of past Spanks releases, with some calculated moves into mid-oughts Josh Homme-ian style territory. “We worked with Danny a lot on co-writes,” continues Louie of the process, “he rearranged the songs a lot and really cleaned them up. It’s big. It’s cool. Sean is also a songwriter, and he does some really interesting things. I have someone here that I can bounce not only drum ideas off of, but also song ideas.”
Recorded at Calgary’s OCL studios with engineer Josh Gwilliam over three days, Louie and Hamilton batted the tracks across the pond nightly with Farrant, taking full advantage of the 8-hour time change across the Atlantic to keep the momentum going. “Working long distance was funny, recording all day, sending it to Danny at night, then he’d get us his notes before we woke up and we’d keep recording with his changes the next day,” explains Louie of exploring the right tones and dialing the arrangements of the songs.
Throughout the changes and new team behind the project, Louie’s scrappy rock-and-roll beating heart still remains the distinct centerpiece of the sound. Stranger not only serves as an exciting sample size of what to expect from the upcoming Girls, Girls, Girls full-length that the Spanks are expecting deeper into 2017, it also lives on its own as their best work to date.
Miesha & the Spanks release Stranger October 4th, with shows at Edmonton’s UP+DT Fest on October 7th at The Starlite Room, and in Calgary with two shows: 18+ at The Palomino on October 8th and all-ages at Broken City on October 9th.AB, Alberta, Broken City, Miesha and the Spanks, Miesha Louie, Palomino, Starlite Room, Stranger, Up+Downtown Festival