If there was a band that epitomizes the laid back, lovely island life on the West Coast, it might be Current Swell; the musical equivalent of cozying around a beach fire with friends, and a group founded by a couple of guys from Alberta.
A couple of guys from the Edmonton suburb of St. Albert who, 10 years ago, fell in love with Victoria and from here have experienced a slow climb to where they are now: winners of the Peak Performance Project, booked at major summer festivals and travelling the world in support of their fifth album, Ulysses.
“I feel like I was born land locked, but I knew it wasn’t the place for me,” says Scott Stanton, singer-songwriter/guitarist for the band, on the phone from Portland the morning after a gig. “Right when I got to Victoria I knew, This is home, from now on. … I was just coming up to visit a friend and I called my dad, told him to cancel my plane ticket home.”
Stanton met up with David Lang, an acquaintance from St. Albert, who was just as taken by the West Coast and wanted to make it his home. The new locale became a major part of not just their songwriting, Stanton says, but who they wanted to be. Soon the covers they had been playing during backyard jam-seshes gave way to early Current Swell originals – tunes at first influenced by their teen partying days, which have since evolved into the musings of musicians in the twilight of their youth, still rooted in a love for the lifestyle and packaged in the same tightly stitched harmonies and danceable beats for which they’ve always been known.
“All of a sudden we were starting to write our own music and then someone else said: ‘Can I be in your band? But this isn’t a band; this is just us jamming,” says Stanton, who was 19 at the time. “The next day, that guy showed up with a bass guitar, learning all our songs and getting us all these shows.”
That was Louis Savada, who eventually left the band due to the demands of touring on a young family, but also had the honour of showing Stanton and Lang the value of their work and motivating them to develop it further.
Savada, still a close cohort, now plays with fellow Victorians Jon & Roy as Current Swell tours the world in support of their sophomore release with Nettwerk Records, Ulysses. While the band hasn’t quite provided enough monetary gains to let the guys quit their day jobs, ending the band isn’t a consideration after all their growth to date.
“We’ve had a couple of ‘aha moments,’” he says. “It’s really amazing when we have such a great fanbase in Victoria, but we’ve been to places like Brazil where we walk on the stage and there are 3,000 people there who know all the words – but they don’t even speak English.”
Current Swell, including drummer Chris Petersen and bassist Ghosty Boy, returns to Brazil this September, but not before offering their broad local fanbase an opportunity to hear their latest songs. The band brings the sounds of Ulysses, recorded last fall in Vancouver’s Greenhouse Studios and produced by Nathan Sabatino (of Dr. Dog and Neko Case acclaim), to Rock the Shores for the second year on July 11.
“We’ve always held on to our fans and keep getting new ones from the younger and older generation. We were never in a place where we only had a bunch of 18 year olds coming to our shows. It’s always been like last night where there’s older women, they’re in their 50s, dancing harder than the 20 year-old Portland hipsters,” Stanton says with a laugh. “There’s all ranges of people at the shows – always. It never really changed. It’s just been growing.”