Spiral Beach launch waves of chaos

Canada’s newest addition to the indie scene exudes charming instability and creativity

Spiral Beach, who recorded their ablum Ball in a barn, get to play in a cosier venue this time around—The Grad Club.
Spiral Beach, who recorded their ablum Ball in a barn, get to play in a cosier venue this time around—The Grad Club.

Picture a barn: rural, nondescript, lost in the cold of another Kingston winter. The image conjures up thoughts of perpetual nose-dripping and outfit malfunctions, or perhaps the rekindling of an age-old grudge against Jack Frost.

Throw Spiral Beach in with Mr. Frost, and the barn is no longer that place you swore to avoid while living in Kingston, it’s the location for the recording of one of the most anticipated sophomore albums on the indie scene—the site for a composition of chaos.

Ball—the latest album by Toronto-based Spiral Beach—is, to put it simply, difficult to describe. Even Airick Woodhead, the four-person band’s singer, keyboardist and guitarist, can’t put it all in one word.

“It’s psyche, jungle, space, surf, cosmic, dance, chaotic,” Woodhead said.

This eclectic sound was recorded independently at a barn outside Kingston, with Mike Wilson of the Hidden Cameras engineering and co-producing it with the band’s members. The 24-hour recording project, a “lock-in” as Woodhead described it, added a dynamic element to the process of recording.

“We were trapped in there, and it was the dead of winter,” Woodhead recalled.

This claustrophobic experience and the rushed schedule epitomizes the spirit of Spiral Beach: a glamorization and embrace of the chaotic.

“That idea is the foundation of our band,” said Woodhead about the group’s live performances.

“There’s a lot of improvisation that our band does. A lot of eye connection, a lot of instability. When you don’t know what’s happening next, the audience definitely gets a piece.

“We can make it a little more surreal, we don’t have to be down to earth indie rockers, which is what is happening now [in independent music].”

The business is still something relatively new to the group. The band, who will tell you to see their live show before listening to their album, recently signed their first label deal with Sparks Music.

“There’s a disconnection from power,” Woodhead said when describing the new contract. Spiral Beach won’t let this disconnect them from their indie roots just yet.

“We made [Ball] totally on our own. Then we signed the deal on our own.”

Toronto-based and still too young to drink in the United States, Spiral Beach developed from the musical inclinations of the Woodhead brothers in 2003.

“We all learned how to play music in this band,” Woodhead said with a laugh.

Starting their career journey in the halls of their high school, playing for their friends at all-ages shows, Spiral Beach is moving on from their first album, maturing into a space and sound of their own.

There is no greater evidence for this than Ball. The scattered, imaginative and colourful album exudes raw creativity—an indefinable sound.

“People tell us we’re new wave, but I don’t know, I think that’s just a phase that music is going through, and we get lumped in it sometimes,” Woodhead said.

“This record is just really different from the last one.

… There are more characters. We like the cartoony aspect of being in a band.”

However fascinating the new album might be, Woodhead still thinks the only true representation of Spiral Beach’s musical talents lie in their conceptual live performances.

“The album is a picture of what is going on,” Woodhead explained. “The show will give you a better sense of what it’s all about.”

“It’s more important [to Spiral Beach] that everyone has a good time. That philosophy of ego doesn’t hit us that much.”

With humility and an inclination for spontaneity and chaos, this band has the ball rolling with their latest album—a sure indication of future success as one of Canada’s noteworthy independent sounds.

Spiral Beach play The Grad Club tonight at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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