Shred Kelly shows are pretty much always a hit in Revelstoke. Twice this past winter they played sold out shows at the Big Eddy Pub. They’re back in town this Friday, June 21, to play a skatepark fundraiser at the Traverse, along with Vancouver soul-funk-rock band Jackie Treehorn.
I caught up with Sage McBride, Shred Kelly’s singer and keyboard player, a few hours before the band was set to play their first of three shows at Toronto’s North By Northeast music festival.
RTR: How’s NXNE going?
SM: So far so good. We just got here.”
What’s it like playing a big festival like NXNE?
They’re a little tougher, Definitely you have to do a lot of self-promotion. They’re great because you get to see so much live music and you get to catch up with so many friends in different bands who are also touring, but it is sometimes tough to get people out to the shows, so we’ll see how they go.”
Are you spending the whole weekend there, or just in and out?
We have two evening shows and an acoustic performance on the weekend. We’ll take in a couple of shows on the nights we’re not playing. We’ll get a couple nights to enjoy as well, which is always fun.”
What other bands are you looking to see?
We’re really excited to see Imaginary Cities – they just put out a new album. July Talk and the National is playing. And then some friends of ours – Mobina Galore – and Willhorse from Golden. It’s fun to get to see those bands play in a different setting.
You’ve been touring for a few years, but as a small town band, when you head to the big city, what’s it like for you?
It’s definitely a little overwhelming. It’s difficult to find parking and public transit is something we’re not used to either. Always having change readily available is not something that we often practice. All those things require some getting used to. We almost opened our door on bikers because the bike lane is so close to the car door.
I meant in terms of crowd response?
We haven’t been in Toronto in a year since we’ve put out our new album. We’re hoping we’ve made some new fans over the year through the online work and the new album, but I guess you never know until the show. And whatever show is happening at the same time of us. If there’s another great band of a similar style – we just cross our fingers and hope for the best. We have lots of friends in the area and lots of fans that we’ve made so hopefully it’s a good turnout.
You’ve played Revelstoke a number of times. What keeps you coming back here?
We just love playing the mountain towns. It’s just a great vibe and everyone is out to have a really great time. Revelstoke is no different. It’s a great group of people and everyone responds really well to our music so it makes us wanting to keep coming back.
You released a music video for The Bear recently. How was it making that – especially making carving those instruments out of ice and making all those snowmen)?
We worked with Green Couch Productions a couple of times on acoustic videos, and we did the Tracks on Tracks train adventure to North by Northeast with them last year. We met this filmmaker and he expressed interest in making a video to that song. He came up with the part about the journey, ho wit all begins. We came up with the ending, having a field of snowmen and us playing ice instruments. It was an idea we were really excited about, but it took a lot of work, for Tim especially on the banjo, he made all of the ice instruments himself.
Is he a sculptor?
No, it was trial and error. We were trying to find an ice sculptor but no one was available so he made them in the backyard by making snow cutouts in the ground. Digging shapes that were the same size and putting plastic down and freezing the shapes. But the weather would get warm and they would all melt. We bought an old freezer that we found on Kijiji but the freezer had dead cow remnants in it, like this bloody freezer.
We didn’t know that you could over-freeze things, so we thought we would try and freeze them really fast, but then they were really brittle and they were all breaking. We learned a lot about making ice instruments, so if anyone needs one, we can definitely help. I think the second time would be smoother. It all worked out and it all came together in the end.
Who did the snowmen?
We had a snowman making party with all our friends in Fernie. We had 20 friends come out and we all just made snowmen. We lucked out with the weather for that. It was perfect snowmen making snow. We built snowmen and had Baileys and coffee and fireball and we trudged away until we had 50 snowmen built.
You got to push Grant Lawrence into the river when filming a CBC Radio Three video – how did that come about?
He came to Fernie. It was a not-so-nice spring day. I think they were expecting a little nicer spring weather but unfortunately not in the mountains. It was a little chilly but the rest of us all managed to stay dry. It was pretty fun to play our songs while going down the river at a fast speed.
Was it his idea to get pushed in the river?
That was all his idea. He was a good sport.
You have a really busy touring schedule again this summer. How do you handle being on the road so much?
We’re really because none of us are from Fernie. We’re not really lucky – Fernie’s a great place and I’m sure we’d all love to be from there. As touring musicians it’s great because we have family all across the country so I think part of our sanity is kept by being able to have a few down days at everyone’s parents house. Everyone gets some family time on all of our tours and we get a couple of days where people really take care of us because they seem to really love it, which is great for us. It gives us time to recoup and hit the road again. Even though we’re not at home, it feels like we’re at home because we’re with family. I think that keeps us able to go for so long.
One of your most popular songs is “I Hate Work”. Do you still have day jobs or have you given yours up?
We don’t at the moment but we all did this winter. We’re taking four months off from our day jobs. We’ll see how the next four months go, and maybe head back and maybe just keep touring depending on how everything takes shape?
What do you do for work?
Three of us work with children, two are social workers and I work with pre-school-aged children. Two of the guys are bartenders. We all like our jobs now. None of those ones made the song.
What are you doing after this summer? What’s next for the band?
We’re hoping to make it down to the States sometime in the fall, or maybe in the winter depending on how things go. We’re writing songs for a new album, so hopefully sometime in the next year we’ll start recording and put a new album together we can put out sometime in the later part of 2014. We just have to get creative, starting now.
You’ve got a good following in Revelstoke. Tell me something about the band your fans may not know?A random fact about Shred Kelly.
What’s a random fact about us? Hmmm…. Very good question. You stumped me. We all really like eating chips. We eat a lot of chips. That’s one thing we collectively do together. I don’t know if that’s a good answer.
I think that sums it up. We’re really excited to be back in the mountains for a night. It should be a lot of fun.