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Interview:
The Arkells at the Magic Bag, 3 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

» See more SOUND CHECK

When it comes to "college rock," the Arkells may be the epitome of the form.

The group was formed by five classmates at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and named after a street near the school. Since then the quintet has released four studio albums -- including one called "Michigan Left" -- and has won a number of Canada's Juno Awards, including Group of the Year and Rock Album of the year (for "High Noon") at the 2015 ceremony.

The Arkells' latest, "Morning Report," came out during August, and it's brought frontman Max Kernan and company back on the road both above and below the border...

"Morning Report" finds the Arkells expanding its sonic palette a bit, embracing elements of contemporary rock and pop production. "We really tried to do new things," Kernan, 29 -- whose father attended Wayne State University -- says by phone on the way to a show in Athens, Ga. "We were definitely influenced by what's happening wtih music in 2016. We weren't afraid to dabble with some electronic drum programming, more synth sounds or vocal samples, just, like, modern production techniques. I think a lot of people conceive of us as being a more meat and potatoes rock 'n' roll band, especially from the way we play on stage, but we're really thrilled wtih the openness that our audience has had when it comes to the new sounds on the record."

One of the more intriguing songs on "Morning Report" is "Drake's Dad," and the Canadian rapper's actually father, Dennis Graham, appears in the video for the track. "The song is actually based on a trip I took, kind of a bachelor trip with 16 dudes to the heartland -- Memphis, Louisville, Nashville," Kernan says. "Anything can happen when you go out with your friends like that. One night we actually met Drake's dad on Beale Street in Memphis. So I think there's a couple of layers to the song; One is about having a really good time with your friends, and then you can crawl back into bed with your partner and just hold her tight and say, "I missed you.' There's that idea of when you're lost at sea, just hold up that light and I'll come home to find you. It's sort of a justification for all the bad behavior."

Despite great success at the Junos throughout its career, the Arkells don't feel awards pressure with each successive album. "I think we're of the mind that when it comes to any success in this business, all we can do is everything we can do," Kernan says. "We try to put everything we have into our live show and what our album covers look like and what our songs sound like and make sure everybody on our team is working their ass off. And after that there's nothing we can do. Everything else is out of our hands, and if it's successful and there are awards. that's great."

The Arkells and Darcys

Friday, Nov. 11. Doors open at 8 p.m.

The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.

Tickets are $16.

Call 248-544-3030 or visit themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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