The Acorn blend rural & urban on record

Ottawa natives The Acorn roll into Kingston tonight.
Ottawa natives The Acorn roll into Kingston tonight.
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Photo courtesy of kelprecords.com

Interview: The Acorn @ The Grad Club Tonight

“Well, there was this time on our way to Kingston to play the Modern Fuel sometime this June, and we were at that half-way point between Ottawa and K-town where there are no rest stops,” recounts Acorn frontman and chief songwriter Rolf Klausener when cornered and forced to divulge The Acorn’s most shocking road stories.

“Howie [The Acorn guitarist] had to pee really bad, but [Jeffrey] Malecki [the drummer] refused to stop the van. So, we made Howie pee into a plastic bag, double-bagged it, and then hung it from the rear-view mirror until we got to Kingston. It didn’t smell, but it did swing precariously back and forth,” recounts Acorn frontman and chief songwriter Rolf Klausener when the Journal cornered and forced to divulge The Acorn’s most shocking road stories.

Far be it from me to deny a segue when I see one, but The Acorn, at its core, is all about striking a delicate balance. The Ottawa quartet’s first full-length album, The Pink Ghosts, saw them running the gamut between sparse, atmospheric instrumentals—peppered with electronic bloops and bips that would feel quite at home on a Do Make Say Think record—to plaintive, guitar-based pop songs.

The Acorn started primarily as a vehicle for Klausener’s solo material but has evolved over the course of the past year.

“When I first started my solo shows, it was all bedroom IDM [intelligent dance music], laptop and computer, emotive nerdery. Once the band came together, our shows quickly developed a really nice schizophrenic blend of quieter, wistful material and energetic stuff. It’s gotten to the point now where we really like doing something different at every show. But you can always count on a healthy amount of wiggling and terrible stage banter,” Klausener maintains.

The balance between the harsh and the beautiful on The Pink Ghosts makes it sound almost like a contemporary reconfiguration of that very Canadian pastime of retreating into the wild for inspiration.

“I can’t really speak for other artists in Ottawa, but the sound of The Pink Ghosts was created very consciously. I wanted to reflect the openness of the city, and that very tangible blend of the rural and city life that we feel with our proximity to Gatineau Park [a huge provincial park located across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec], which gives us a real connection to the outdoors. It’s so easy to escape the city life here and be completely immersed in this expansive wilderness.” With Canadians currently burning up radio waves all over the world, one would think this would be one of the most exciting times in recent memory to be making music north of the border. Klausener seems largely uninterested in tagging any special status in the surge of popularity of Canadian music.

“In a lot of ways, it would have been fun to be making music in the late-’80s/early-’90s when the Canadian music scene was really nascent. But, right now, I don’t know that it’s any different than any other small country.”

The Acorn has also recently pieced together an EP that hints at the direction the band will take on their upcoming full length.

“The next album will be recorded live with as little over-dubbing as possible, in some big house or cottage, and be mostly about my mother,” Klausener said. “The songs will be move in a North-Easterly direction, and be rhomboid in emotional shape.” The parallelogram of feeling that is The Acorn will roll into town this Friday at The Grad Club.

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