Oct. 10, 2012 - Issue #886: Typhoon Judy
'Halfway into making the record, we realized this isn't Christian Hansen and the Autistics anymore. The songs were not dance songs. It wasn't dance rock. It was something different."
Christian Hansen is talking about C'mon Arizona, his band's follow up to its neon-synth-propelled debut Power Leopard. It's what Hansen calls a transitional record, and he's certainly right about that, though its shift isn't just in terms of sonics.
A year ago Hansen and bandmate/wife Molly Flood moved their base of operations to Toronto; the band lineup shuffled, eventually settling up with a rhythm section of considerable pedigree (drummer Al Boyle, who took over kit duties in You Say Party after that band's original drummer passed away, and Dustin Hawthorne, former four-stringer for Hot Hot Heat). The Autistics moniker was dropped (different lineup, different time), and C'mon—the early working title of which was Dance Floor DeathCore, eventually found its way through the tumult to see the band take a new shape: a record devoid of samples, replaced with the ballast energy of live sound.
As music, C'mon Arizona isn't a total left turn, maintaining the move-it-shake-it energy of Power Leopard—produced, like Leopard was, by Doug Organ—but the delivery here gets re-imagined: the synths, once the band's beachhead instrument, now share the front-and-centre with Hansen's amped-up guitar lines and a punishing kit-and-bass combo.
After years of favouring synths over the six-string, Hansen admits it took some time to re-hone his chops.
"Growing up, I used to play guitar constantly, and I was, y'know, pretty good, I guess," he laughs. "But I realized how much not playing guitar all the time ... it's like anything, right? My chops had suffered. Since we've been here, it's been a process of playing and playing as much as I can, and same with everyone else in the band. We've added two members, and they're both really, really great players, and accomplished musicians. It's definitely pushed Molly and I into just getting back on top of being able to really play. "
Of Hansen's three-show visit back to Edmonton, Thursday's Dinwoodie gig marks the new lineup's Alberta debut and the finished album's release, with a scattering of special guests planned. And while it may have taken some time to craft—the C'mon Arizona recording process spread itself out over a year—Hansen certainly seems pleased with the results. Maybe relieved is a better word for it: to wind up with an album that feels worth the wait, no matter how long it took.
"I can always tell when I'm beating my head against a wall trying to make a song happen, and in the early recording process, that's what I was doing," he says. "We had that initial success, and then you get kind of stuck, and you get kind of scared, and you want to make people happy, and you wanna deliver the goods. Trying to make these dance songs, and it just wasn't happening. Once I just said goodbye to that, all the songs fell into place."
Thu, Oct 11 (8 pm)
Dinwoodie Lounge, SOLD OUT
Fri, Oct 12 – Sat, Oct 13 (8 pm)
With Mikey Maybe
Elevation Room, $20
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