Canadian four-piece Raleigh have followed up last year’s album Powerhouse Bloom with single ‘Smoke In Our Eyes’ featuring male/female harmonies, drifting cello and shimmering guitar. We spoke to Brock Geiger about the band and their latest music.
In trying to describe Raleigh to people, we would usually call it indie rock that is damaged by art. Sonic experimentation harnessed into parallel universe pop songs.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming Raleigh?
The band came together very naturally, through a long history of friendships, and working together in varying musical capacities over the years. A lot of this can be attributed to the super tight knit nature of the scene in Calgary.
Who did your take inspiration from?
Since the band functions collaboratively, the inspiration comes from all angles, from multiple people, creating something bigger than what any one of us would land on by ourselves. We listen to a lot of music across the map stylistically, and get excited about nerdy stuff. Lyrically, a lot of the writing comes from personal reflections on our own experiences, or meditations on society and other events.
Why the name ‘Raleigh’?
Clea and I (Brock) were working on music together for a year or so, playing and recording on each other’s projects and solo material. That evolved into something collaborative, and it only made sense to give it a title that didn’t imply sole ownership over the creativity. Raleigh was a word that was sonically lush, but was not self defined in terms of meaning or style, and that aligned with the music.
How would you describe your musical style?
We don’t set many limitations for what Raleigh can be or sound like. In trying to describe it to people, we would usually call it indie rock that is damaged by art. Sonic experimentation harnessed into parallel universe pop songs.
What do fans get at your live shows?
As of late we’ve been performing the new record, Powerhouse Bloom and tucking in a couple brand new things we’re working on. We’ve put a lot of work into presenting the material with the same amount of sonic detail and character found on the album, so I think the show is a pretty exciting and three dimensional sonically. Particularly when we’re touring in new territories and reaching new audiences, an important part of shows is trying to truly connect with people.
Sometimes there are stories about where a song came from, or we’ll accidentally enable a debate as to where in Edinburgh has the best fish ‘n’ chips.
You’ve played support for Dan Mangan and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, how were those gigs?
We’ve been fortunate to share stages with some of our favourite bands over the years. Support slots are our favourite. It’s a chance to play to someone else’s’ audience, that probably doesn’t have an expectation of what you are going to do. It allows the band to really open up in our set. The bonus is we get to watch a sweet set when we’re done too, and see our favourite artists performing live.
You played The Great Escape at the weekend, how did that go? What was the response?
Great Escape was absolutely lovely. Brighton was beautiful and so alive! We played two shows in really cool venues (Green Door Store & Queens Hotel). They were both packed, and audiences were definitely receptive to what we were doing. Since there are so many bands playing, we had relatively short set times, but it was really fun to play the “power set” and offer up some tasters. We’re looking forward to coming back sooner than later.
Your latest single is ‘Smoke In Our Eyes’. What’s it about?
This song was written for my cat. We had a house on a hill overlooking downtown Calgary for a handful of years. It had a really nice main floor jam space with big windows, and lots of sunshine. Casper the cat would hang out with us while we were jamming. He’d fall asleep right next to a guitar amp, or his favourite spot was probably right underneath the big purring resonant sound of Clea’s cello. It’s not so much a song about the cat, but more a consideration of where his little feline mind might be wandering off to when he would fall asleep listening to us play.
When did you write it and where did you record it?
The song was written a couple years ago now. This was one of the first tracks from “Powerhouse Bloom” that came to life which meant it really got taken through the paces. We tracked demo versions of this song two or three times before it got refined to the version that exists now. A big part of the refining came during the final recording process, which happened at a beautiful arts centre residency in the rocky mountains called the Banff Centre.
How does ‘Smoke In Our Eyes’ build on your style?
‘Smoke In Our Eyes’, like all of our tracks, is an expression of an idea that worked out a certain way. Our goal with a song is usually more centred around representing the content and feeling of it’s meaning, rather than aiming to build a particular style around it.
The record features Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning on additional guitar. How did they get involved and what did they bring to the song?
The residency at the Banff Centre was curated by a few of the gang in Broken Social Scene. Brendan, Charles, and Kevin were all there hanging. A big part of the residency was just spending time with material, exploring possibilities, and seeing where things might go. It was very cool to spend time jamming with those dudes and throwing ideas around. Brendan has a cool guitar line that comes in on the second verse of ‘Smoke’ that we stumbled on late into the night. No one else has ever played guitar on a Raleigh record, so I love hearing that line pop out, cause it’s something I would have never landed on.
What are your hopes for ‘Smoke In Our Eyes’?
We’d love for some people to hear it! The song has been getting some nice love as a single and with the new video. It’s a fun one to play live too.
Where can we see you live in 2018?
We’re just wrapping up a tour of 10 shows through the UK this week and continuing on to Japan for about ten shows over there. It’s our first time in Japan, so tell your friends we’re coming! We have a couple scattered festival dates in Canada, and some club shows all over the country. The UK was particularly kind to us this trip, so we’ll be aiming to be back soon!
Watch the video for ‘Smoke in Our Eyes’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates go to raleigh-sound.com.