I first discovered Shred Kelly at last year’s Bluesfest. In fact, I had listed them as my Bluesfest 2012 discovery. Their sound – high energy with banjo at the forefront – as well as the older woman waving the Newfoundland Tricolour had me believing they were from out east. So I was surprised to learn they were from tiny Fernie, British Columbia. (It turns out the flag-waving fan was the mother of Newfoundland-born drummer Ian Page Shiner.) In anticipation of Shred Kelly’s next visit to Ottawa proper, I chatted with singer and keyboard player Sage McBride to see how they’ve kept busy over the past year.
When Shred Kelly played Bluesfest 2012, they were on the heals of releasing “In the Hills”, their second album recorded over an intensive three week period in Toronto. Since the release, they’ve toured in B.C. and Alberta (where they filmed their awesome video for The Bear featuring chiseled ice instruments!) and played across Canada with Ottawa’s Loon Choir. The two bands actually met via a CBC Radio 3 blogger that really enjoyed both bands and said they should meet. The first encounter took place at last year’s Bluesfest and they hit it off. “We really liked their music and the blogger who initially fell in love with both of us said “wouldn’t it be great for you to tour together?”” They started talking about it more seriously and made it happen. “We’re excited,” says McBride, “because we’ve never been on tour with another band for that long before. We’re looking forward to playing every night and supporting one another, sharing each others fans across the country.”
There is a real sense of camaraderie with Shred Kelly. The banjo, drummer and guitar players were already roommates when they started the band. “We’ve had four years to get even closer, says McBride. We have about 150 sleepovers a year.”
While Shred Kelly is still touring their new album, they’ve already begun preliminary work on their next record. They are playing around with a few demos and writing. “It’s crazy, it feels like we just released this album and we’re already off to the next one. But it’s fun.” McBride says they hope to get in the studio sometime next winter and release the album the following fall. Writing is one of the most exciting aspects of being in a band for McCribe. Figuring out what’s going to be different for the new album and elements you want to keep or add to from the last one is very fun.
“‘In the Hill” was more about where we grew up; it was more stories from our childhood and stories from our town. It was kind of a now-and-then album. For the upcoming album, we’re developing a bit more of a story with fictional characters, writing songs about the encounters that these characters have mixed with problems that the world is facing.”
The band – with its high energy – has been known as a great live act, but McBride says the members want the albums to carry as much weight as the live shows. “We want people to enjoy a high energy live show and have people take that home and listen for it years to come. We want our albums to stand the test of time and be loved pieces of work.”
Recording is still a few months away and right now Shred Kelly is focused on touring. They’ve played in the Ottawa region a few times and apart from the Bluesfest appearance play often at the Black Sheep Inn, a place they’ve come to greatly appreciate. I told them that Ottawa proper will give them a nice warm welcome too.