To record their first release in three years, Vancouver-based indie folk collective The Fugitives was just hoping to stay home. After eight years of touring Canada and Europe, they'd drained most of the romance out of cramped cars, long roads, and eating sandwiches out of gas station refrigerators. So they surprised themselves by trucking three thousand kilometres to record Bigger than Luck, their new EP from Light Organ Records, and precursor to a full-length out this fall, in Toronto. A big reason was the chance to work with producer John Critchley (Dan Mangan, Elliot BROOD, Amelia Curran). The other might be that they feel most at home in new territory.
When not touring as musicians, current frontmen and songwriters Brendan McLeod and Adrian Glynn are active in other artistic pursuits. McLeod is an award winning novelist and former Canadian SLAM poetry champion, while Glynn is a working actor who received rave reviews for his role in Chelsea Hotel, a play based on the songs and poems of Leonard Cohen. Their band is similarly eclectic, boasting prominent former members like Mark Berube and CR Avery, and a current rotating cast of supporters that includes violin-looping prodigy Hannah Epperson, multi-instrumentalist Steve Charles, and renowned actor Benjamin Elliot, alongside a host of multi-instrumentalists whose styles range from bluegrass to jazz.
This diversity has carried over to their records and live performances. Their first full-length received a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for "Pushing the Boundaries" of contemporary roots music, and their follow-up was praised for being "eclectic and exciting" (See) , "poignant" (Uptown), and "infectious" (CBC). They've gone on to sell out shows at venues as diverse as the Vienna Literary Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, and the Vancouver Jazz Festival, while maintaining a frequent spot on the Canadian folk festival circuit. As McLeod puts it, "We're like Broken Social Scene. But acoustic, and way less famous."
For Bigger than Luck, and the forthcoming LP, The Fugitives maintained their expansive folk instrumentation while narrowing the songwriting focus. McLeod and Glynn co-wrote the songs, halving their usual number of writers, and brought long-term members in afterwards to flesh out the tunes musically. The result is their fullest sound to date, an effort that combines the lyrical intimacy of singer-songwriters with the festive atmosphere of old collaborators reuniting. "While it's fun sitting around our living rooms writing horn lines with our mouths, it wouldn't sound too great on a recording," shrugs Glynn. "Thank God for talented friends."
And now on to more gas station sandwiches.