Unbeknownst to me before this interview, Montreal is apparently a pretty awesome place. The rent is cheap, the coffee is good, the girls are beautiful, and the music is great. Although that’s all fun and good, Winter Gloves are preparing to leave their Canadian paradise for a massive North American tour that will take them from their hometown across the US and back again. They will be touring to support their brand spankin’ new album All Red, which will be released on September 7th. Before their lives get far too hectic, lead singer Charles F. and guitarist Nico Ormiston agreed to take the time to talk to BNB.com about the new album, their massive tour, and why the name Winter Gloves motivates them to keep their eyes on the prize.
BNB: What’s new in your world right now? You guys are about to release a new album, what can you tell me about that?
Nico: We’re really excited, we started playing some shows again, slowly, and we are really looking forward to hitting the road and just having a good time playing shows and making sure people are happy and hopefully we’ll light up some smiles.
BNB: When was the last time that you guys toured in the US?
Charles: It was with Thunderheist, if I remember correctly. I guess it was last winter, but I’m not sure exactly, I’m so bad with dates, but it was like less than a year ago. We toured the west coast with Thunderheist.
BNB: What was that like? Is it a lot different than playing shows back home?
Charles: Yea, it depends a lot on the city. I was really amazed. It’s the same back in Ontario, like depending on where you play people are just freaking out, or they are just like listening to the show. I guess it was the same in the US. Like, you play LA in front of people who don’t know the band, and of course they are just looking at you playing. They’re not like having a blast and dancing everywhere, but they do like it and we’ve gotten some good reviews, so that’s good also. In other cities like Portland, it was just crazy. People were just dancing and having a blast, it was almost scary at times.
BNB: Who is that dancing on the cover of the album?
Charles: It’s my girlfriend.
BNB: So she’s getting her 15 minutes of fame too?
Charles: Yea, exactly [laughs]. That was the condition; she was like “you want to go on tour? Then I have to be on the cover!” [Laughs] No, for the cover we had a few different ideas, and we spent a lot of time taking pictures, my girlfriend and I, but the actual photo on the album was just a test. We just found a great spot to take pictures, and we used a cheap Lomo camera from Russia. We took a picture just to see if we liked the environment and the color of the walls and all. We just ended up using that picture because it was pretty bad quality, but there was a vibe to it and good colors, so we thought “OK, lets do it.”
BNB: It seems to me that the new single “Plastic Slides” has a slightly different sound than much of your previous work. Is this album going to be lighter on the synths and heavier on the guitar?
Charles: You know what, there’s actually a lot of synthesizer in the album and I used a lot of the Juno for the bass and the melodies, and I still use Farfisa organs. But honestly, the songs that I was really happy with, and the songs that I feel really good about are the guitar songs. There are just like two or three on the record, I don’t know why. I started the project really tired of guitars and wanted to use the synthesizer forever, and now I’m realizing that its like, “wow, OK, I can have some fun standing there with a guitar playing some happy songs.” But not always happy, you know? We’ve got a song called “Trap the Mouse,” which is more like a dreamy, thoughtful song about awkward dreams and mice as well [laughs]. That song is a guitar song, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a Winter Gloves song, but it actually became one.
Nico: Its like this part from the other record, there’s a lot of electric bass used on All Red, which brings a totally different dynamic to a song. I think its interesting to, not move on from the bass synths and all the other synths, there’s a lot of all these instruments on All Red, but you know it feels good to maybe take a different direction and sort of move on and graduate I guess.
BNB: I understand that Winter Gloves started as a bit of a side project that evolved into something bigger, what can you tell me about that?
Charles: How I realized was just from the way it felt. I tried to play music, I was a jazz drummer, and I had a lot of fun playing jazz gigs and then I was starting to write more songs as kind of like alternative Brit-rock. It never felt easy, and I guess I was tired of guitar. I started to record keyboard music and it felt right. The other thing too is that I always tried to work with other people and you know, like write songs as four guys in a room drinking beer. But frankly, that doesn’t really work. With Winter Gloves it was like, “OK, I’m going to give the direction, I want to do music like this,” and people around me just followed the lead and I found people that I really wanted to work with, and people who have the same ideas. It’s just like another process, and it just felt more natural.
BNB: You guys have a pretty big tour lined up for the coming months. Are the dates that you have posted all the shows that you are going to play, or are you going to add some west coast dates as well?
Charles: Oh yea, for sure. Not even like half of the tour is on our MySpace right now. We are still working on our route for going out west, like from Los Angeles going up to Vancouver, Canada. Then we are going back through Canada again and back to Montreal. So it’s going to be the full American run.
BNB: So that tour is starting in your hometown of Montreal. What kind of influence has Montreal had on your music?
Charles: We recorded the album here, and of course Montreal is a great city to live in because there is so much stuff going on. There are a lot of great artists, like you probably know like maybe a thousand bands coming from here, and its really inspiring. The rent is cheap, so for artists it’s kind of easier to live here. The coffee is amazing if you know where to go, and the girls are beautiful, so I guess it’s kind of a small paradise for musicians.
BNB: Speaking of great musicians, you guys had a show with Broken Social Scene recently, correct? Was that a cool experience for you guys?
Nico: It was a blast! I mean, it was just like a really nice vibe to be at that festival in British Colombia. The west coast is such a beautiful place to be, and the guys from Broken Social Scene are great musicians. I’ve seen them live before, and it was a blast to get to hang out with them and see them up close and personal. They are really great guys and awesome musicians and their last record is pretty decent too.
BNB: I read a funny story somewhere about how you got the name Winter Gloves because one of you was working retail and had to stock “winter gloves” all day while you were trying to name your band. Is this true, or is that just a rumor floating around?
Charles: Yea, it’s totally true. The first year when I moved to Montreal I needed a band name when I started the project, and that’s exactly what happened. I was just racking gloves over and over again. [For the band name] I knew that I wanted to use “winter,” because its pretty cold here and I just liked the sound of it, and I thought it felt honest, you know? I was just like reading “winter gloves,” all day long while I was racking those, and it got to me, I guess [laughs].
BNB: I’m guessing that you are having more fun now touring the world and playing music instead of stocking gloves?
Charles: Yea, for sure! That’s another way to remember where we are from, and we kind of kept the name just to remind ourselves not to ever go back to racking gloves, and to keep making music full time, whatever it takes. In the summer and fall touring, you play a lot, but in the winter it’s a little harder with money. You record in the studio, and you end up spending a lot when you aren’t making that much. You start to think, “maybe I should work a bit,” but the truth is that even if it’s hard to be an artist and write songs, you have to do it. The more you do it, you get better and people get more interested. I guess the name Winter Gloves is a bit like, “hang on kid, don’t go back to racking gloves,” or something like that [laughs].
Charles: Yea, its been awhile since we did that. We did that cover right before the first Canadian tour. A friend of mine made me listen to “Someone Great,” and I didn’t know LCD Soundsystem at all, and actually I didn’t know much about the indie-electronic music scene at the time. It just got to me, because it’s still a pop song and it’s still catchy, but you know, it’s like a six and a half minute song or something like that. It’s a longer pop song, so I made a shorter version, but I guess it’s the kind of song that I felt like I didn’t want to change a lot, but I just really felt like playing it, and that’s what happened. And of course I’m a big fan of the band now.
BNB: Parting words? When is the new album coming out, by the way?
Charles: I think it’s September 7th.
Nico: I’m hoping that everyone gets a chance to listen to the record and hopefully it will light up somebody’s eye and create a spark, like any record that I listened to growing up. I hope it’s the kind of record that people will put on going to school, or going to work, and something you travel with. Hopefully somebody will get that feeling from that record, and that’s all I want.