Road warriors the Arkells focus their attention on the details

By Lucas Kitchen

Every last little detail counts for the Arkells.

VANCOUVER — Oh how the times have changed. After winning a couple JUNOs and releasing their fourth studio album, Morning Report, in 2016, the Arkells have embarked on yet another far-reaching tour covering North America and parts of Europe. For lead singer Max Kerman, whether they’re playing a stadium opening for Frank Turner or headlining a sweaty bar in Germany, it’s all the same — you never know who’s watching.

“The one thing I’ve realized is that you’ve gotta take every little detail seriously and really care about every aspect of the show,” Kerman says. “You never know the thing that might move the needle so you’ve got to try your best and hope good luck will find you.”

Good luck certainly has found the multiple JUNO award-winning band. Just this past November the Hamilton, ON-based rockers played what Kerman described as a “bucket list experience” at Massey Hall in Toronto when they played two back-to-back sold out shows.

“We were almost afraid we’d be let down because we built it up in our heads so much, but then it exceeded expectations,” Kerman says.

Playing those larger shows in stadiums or theatres doesn’t allow the Arkells to mingle with the audience post-show as much as they used to, but that connection to their fans is still the most important aspect of the band’s life. VIP experiences, contests and membership in the Arkells Collegiate Vocational Institute have all been part of them giving back to their fans.

“We noticed a lot of people like covering us on acoustic guitar and the golden ticket idea grew from that,” he says.

That “golden ticket idea” being that fans submit videos of them covering the Arkells’ latest single, “My Heart’s Always Yours,” and the winning video would earn that fan a free ticket to any and all Arkells concerts for 2017.

“We still get such a kick out of being a part of someone’s life and that hasn’t changed at all as the band has grown in Canada. When you put yourself out there in the world you never know what you’re going to get back.”

The band released their first single, “Drake’s Dad,” off their most recent album last May, which came as a bit of a pleasant surprise from a band that seemed to be perpetually touring. Just how did such a pavement-pounding group manage to record an album while still travelling the continent? For Kerman it came from their previous recording experience.

“I’ve realized (recording) can be a bit of a dodgy experience when you’ve just got one or two months of time blocked off to be holed up in a studio.”

This led to the group recording the album over several months with a couple stops in LA and Toronto and the help of four different producers. Overall, Morning Report is a solid addition to the Arkells’ catalogue and Kerman feels the same way.

“We really like the job and we wouldn’t force anything if we felt it was shitty, but because we were so jazzed on the songs we thought let’s just get to work. Why do we have to assume that we have to wait another eight months to put out new music? If the whole team is jazzed then let’s fuckin’ do it.”

The Arkells perform at the Thunderbird Sports Centre (Vancouver) on February 1st, the Shaw Conference Centre (Edmonton) on February 3rd, the BMO Centre (Calgary) on February 4th, Prairieland Park (Saskatoon) on February 6th and Centennial Concert Hall (Winnipeg) and February 7th.

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