There’s a reason, beyond their dazzling musicianship and hugely entertaining live shows, that Canadian outfit The East Pointers have connected with audiences right across the globe, making new, original roots music the hippest, most vibrant thing going. The reason? The East Pointers write about real life, sketching out its joys and sorrows in vivid strokes.
Lee Allcock caught up with the band to speak about the pressures of making a record, radio-ready tracks and to also find out what they have in store for their fans in 2019.
You worked with superstar East Coast-bred songwriter/producer, Gordie Sampson on your new album, ‘What We Leave Behind’. What was that like? Did you receive any advice? And were there any issues?
Gordie is amazing; we grew up listening to his records and also followed his career as a songwriter and producer in Nashville. He’s a master of songwriting, trad music and contemporary music which is rare. We wrote ‘Two Weeks’ with Gordie which is one of our favourite songs on ‘What We Leave Behind’.
Your debut album, ‘Secret Victory’, was JUNO Award-winning. Baring that in mind, did you feel that there was added pressure on you this time around to write another possible award-winning album?
We were really fortunate to have another JUNO nominated record with ‘What We Leave Behind’. I don’t think we put pressure on ourselves though as the goal is just to make great records. If they win awards it’s just a bonus.
The album reflects on the traditions of Canadian Celtic music, where it comes from, and what it means to the people, but it also strides in new directions for the band, doesn’t it? Especially in terms of creating radio-ready tracks…
We all grew up playing trad music, pop music and whatever else was on the radio. Since we started the band there were no rules as long as it felt real. As songwriters, it’s been fun exploring contemporary arrangements with acoustic instruments.
Was it difficult to strike a balance between your traditional-sounding instrumental tunes and catchy radio-ready songs?
Only when you start to worry about genres and rules it can be difficult. The writing process is pretty fluent for us with tunes and songwriting as we don’t think too much about where it lands. I think that’s the way to do it so it always feels fresh.
And finally, what’s next for The East Pointers?
We’re actually in the recording studio right now in Nashville (with Gordie again). After this, we tour the UK and have a few weeks off. And in the spring and summer, we’ll mostly be playing US, Canadian and European festivals.
The East Pointers head to Sage, Gateshead on Sunday 3rd February with support coming from Balter. Tickets, priced at £15.30 (including booking fee), are available from sagegateshead.com.