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Women at the Triple Rock

23 Sep

We in Minnesota should know as well as anyone that the cold makes everyone a little insular, a little creative and a little crazy. Calgary-based art-rockers Women proved that on their 2008 self-titled debut, which pushed grinding guitars, drone and harmonizing to a rusted, fractured edge. For their follow up, Public Strain, Women returned from touring to record again with Sub Pop artist and analog tape-hoarder Chad VanGaalen, who had manned the boards for them on the last run. Out in the US on September 28th on Jagjaguwar (and in Canada on VanGaalen’s Flemish Eye) Public Strain builds, blasts and crashes like the snowstorm on it’s cover, making it both an escape and a challenge. Here are links for the singles “Eyesore” and “Narrow With The Hall” and before they play the Triple Rock Social Club on Sunday, we caught up with guitarist Chris Reimer, who was very funny, with only the hint of a Canadian accent.

CakeIn15: Public Strain is a record that bears listening to as a whole as a whole because the songs move really well into eachother. Was this written with a flow in mind?

Chris Reimer: Not in the least. [Laughs] Actually, sequencing the record was pretty difficult to do actually, just trying to figure out a home for each song. We left a couple songs off and there were various incarnations of the order as time went on, but yeah, I think this one, each song has it’s place on the record and they all kind of flow together nicely.

C15: What was the most difficult song to place?

CR: I’m not sure, it was just kind of the back to back order between song to song, because there are those two slower ballad ones and the on really brash guitar one that were kind of hard to find.

C15: Brash like “Drag Open”?

CR: Yeah, “Drag Open” versus “Venice Lockjaw”, it was kind of, what would be best to juxtapose those?

C15: You went back to work with Chad VanGaalen for Public Strain. Was there talk of going to someone else, and barring that, was there a better understanding between you guys this time?

CR: [Laughs] Yeah, we really just wanted to work with Chad again, because we understood with first one that we’re not really a band that can just go into a studio and bang something out in two weeks and have that be it. It’s pretty organic, a lot of the writing happens while we are in the studio and a lot of the songs took time and went through a lot of incarnations before we found the style that would fit it the best. So it was really good to work with Chad because we would go in for a couple days in the week and then go away and come back.

C15: Where was the strangest place you recorded?

CR: We did some vocals in an underpass, it was pretty cold out, there was snow on the ground and people walking their dogs through this tunnel, trough a corrugated metal tunnel that was lit and we were in there and had mics hung from the lights. We were making people pretty uncomfortable. [Laughs]

C15: You’ve all been friends for a long time and have worked on other projects. What are your other projects and how does that help or influence a band like Women?

CR: I’ve got a couple things that have been on the go for a long time. I do some drone-y ambient stuff, so a couple of things have made it onto our records. “Woodvines” on the first one is one of mine and “Bells” on this one is one of mine as well. So I do things like that in my spare time and working on things like that, that are 20 to 40 minutes long really helps me focus when we have to work on a three-minute pop song, because it’s the opposite.

C15: You have also been doing a fair bit of touring as a band. What have been some of your best experiences?

CR: Everything’s been great, touring is the funnest thing in the world. On the Europe tour for the last album, we got to go to, we were in the Czech Republic and Croatia, which were two places I never thought I would get to, let alone be able to play in. There was a really good, we played the Primavera Festival in Barcelona, and so we played that and then two weeks later to the day we started a tour back in Canada, and so we were at Primavera and we played to probably fifteen hundred people in this massive outdoor stage and then two weeks later we’re in Regina in the back room of a community center playing to 15 people, just a humbling, like, ok, we have to keep working at this.

C15: The sound of Women feels pretty well tied up to Canadian winters; darkness, hunkered down, insular noise-making. What would happen if Women recorded in the Bahamas, or Jamaica?

CR: [Laughs] Oh man, I have no idea what that would sound like. We’d all be wearing shorts and that would just be weird, drinking fruity drinks. I think we would still find a way to have emotional freak-outs and get really worried and be in dark rooms and it would probably end up sounding the same. [Laughs]

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