Image Courtesy of The East Pointers
Canadian trad trio The East Pointers made a real splash when they were in Australia last summer. Now they’re planning on returning for the upcoming folk festival season with their brand new album Secret Victory in tow. We sat down with guitarist Jake Charron to talk about the band’s experience in Australia last time and what we can expect from their shows this time around.
Gareth Hugh Evans: I saw you guys for the first time at the start of this year when you were touring Australia and doing the festival circuit here. How was that tour for you guys?
Jake Charron: It was amazing. It was our first time to Australia as a band and really our first time touring overseas. It was pretty exciting – some amazing festivals that you guys have down there. It was a real treat to be part of it.
GHE: It’s a nice time of year over the summer here – lots of amazing folk festivals happening.
JC: Especially coming from Canada. The weather alone is reason enough to get out of here. It worked out pretty well for us – we got a little bit of sunshine. We met some amazing people, made some great friends, saw some amazing music – we’re really looking forward to be coming back again this summer.
GHE: It felt like you fit in well to the folk scene when you were here. There was a real camaraderie with other bands on the circuit – how did you find the local scene here?
JC: I think in Canada we’ve met a lot of the bands who are on the festival circuit so it’s really nice to run into them. We were hanging out with The Mae Trio and bands like that along the way. It’s a community. I think Australians and Canadians have a lot in common as far as their outlook goes. We felt at home.
GHE: And there’s definitely a shared heritage when it comes to the music as well. Let’s chat about the new album Secret Victory – you wrote that while you were out here right?
JC: Yeah! We came over with just an EP, a demo disk. We had a lot of ideas on the go – Tim [Chaisson] and Koady [Chaisson] live in Prince Edward Island and myself I’m in Toronto so there’s a 15 hour drive between the two. So we don’t get a tonne of time to hang out unless we’re on the road so we took advantage of our time in Australia and did a lot of writing. We found it pretty inspirational down there. A lot of the songs and tunes on the record came about in Australia.
GHE: When you’re on the road where do you even find time to write? Was it in between sets or did you actually have some downtime while you were here?
JC: We had a few days off. We spent Christmas down there this past year so we took those days off. I think even between soundcheck at shows you can come up with little ideas. Over time we started to work on ideas, came home and jumped into the studio.
GHE: Everything on the album is originals right?
JC: It is, yeah. The three of us grew up playing a lot of traditional music, a lot of old tunes, but we sort of had the goal setting out to make this one all original tunes.
GHE: Why was that?
JC: We set out to play traditional music but put a modern spin on it. We’ve always loved listening to trad music and it started to feel like a lot of people out there would like it too if they had access to it. Maybe some of these new ideas would make it more accessible to some people. We just had a lot of new tunes on the go and decided why not make a full album.
GHE: Listening to the album you’d be forgiven for thinking that these aren’t traditional tunes. It doesn’t feel like you guys have strayed too far from the tradition. It shows the heavy influence that the Irish and Scottish and Breton music has on you guys.
JC: Absolutely. We wanted to pay respect to that tradition as well. In Canada we grew up with more than one Celtic influence. The PEI boys grew up playing predominantly Scottish tunes but there’s also in Ontario, where I’m from, the Irish tradition is very strong and also the French-Canadian tradition. So we’re sort of a blend of Celtic traditions and influences.
GHE: One question I always have to ask people who play traditional folk music is what originally drew you to that style of music? I can’t imagine that it was the coolest music in school, especially as a guitarist.
JC: You’re right, it wasn’t the coolest things at the public schools around here. But we all grew up playing music at home with our families – I have two brothers myself who play fiddle. And the Chaissons – there’s dozens of them that are playing the music. Their family goes back six or seven generations. It was this sort of underground scene in Canada – you would see a lot of kids playing the music. So there was this sort of community of people the same age playing this music. I think once you get into it it’s great – it’s feel good music, it’s upbeat, it’s challenging. It’s nice to see a resurgence of this kind of music – it seems to be gaining some sort of popularity.
GHE: Yeah, it does feel like people are trying to re-connect with this kind of music at the moment. They’re searching for authenticity.
JC: I think so. There’s so much access to every genre of music out there so people are looking for something different than what’s on the radio. It’s the type of music that’s stood the test of time – it’s been around for so long that there must be something to it.
GHE: So you guys are heading back to Australia this summer for the festival circuit and some headline shows. What can audiences expect from The East Pointers this time around?
JC: We’ve got a new full length album out – we’ve just finished up our first Canadian tour with that record and we’re pretty excited to bring it over to the UK and then Australia next year. New tunes for people if they’re into what we’re doing. It’s dance music so we’re hoping to get people up on their feet.
GHE: You definitely gained quite a few fans when you were here last time. I think a lot of people are very happy that you’re coming back this year.
JC: Well we’re glad people are liking our music. It’s a great place to be and we’re really excited to be back.
GHE: Well thank you so much for your time – can’t wait to see you over the summer!
JC: Looking forward to see everybody down there.
Secret Victory is available now. The full Australian tour dates for The East Pointers are below:
Monday 28th December to Friday 1st January – Woodford Folk Festival, QLD
Sunday 3rd January – Queen Street Mall, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 3rd January – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 8th to Saturday 9th January – Cygnet Folk Festival, TAS
Thursday 14th January – Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th January – Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW
Monday 18th January – Bagdad Community Hall, TAS
Tuesday 19th January – Sulphur Creek Hall, TAS
Wednesday 20th January – Wynard Wharf Hotel Theatre, TAS
Thursday 21st January – Longford Town Hall, TAS
Friday 22nd January – Chudleigh Community Hall, TAS
Saturday 23rd January – Queenstown Memorial Hall, TAS
Sunday 24th January – Southport Community Centre, TAS
Friday 26th to Sunday 28th February – Cobargo Folk Festival, NSW
Friday 4th to Sunday 6th March – Nannup Music Festival, WA
Friday 11th to 14th March – Port Fairy Folk Music Festival, VIC
Thursday 24th to Monday 27th March – National Folk Festival, ACT