Road warriors visit Gabriola Island
Its been a long road trip for folk-roots band West My Friend.
The Victoria-based quartet hit the road in early March and have spent the last six weeks playing to crowds in some of the most remote communities in Western Canada.
After playing in 23 different cities and towns in four provinces, West My Friend will roll onto Gabriola Island tomorrow for the second last performance of their When the Ink Dries CD release tour.
“We’ve come a long way,” vocalist Jeff Poynter said. “We went as far as Winnipeg and Flin Flon in Northern Manitoba.”
Poynter, along with fellow bandmates, Adam Bailey, Eden Oliver, and Alex Rempel have logged nearly 8,000 kilometres on the tour so far and found themselves opening for funny band, The Arrogant Worms in Calgary last month.
“It was awesome. It was a full-boat show,” Poynter said. “They’re still funny. I don’t know why we were opening for them because we are not funny, at least our songs aren’t. We do like to joke around and stuff but our music is generally more serious than theirs is. I’ve been a fan of them since I was in elementary school.”
West My Friend was formed in 2009 at the Cornerstone Café in Victoria. Their name was inspired by the 2008 Michael McGowan film, One Week.
“The main character discovers he has cancer and so like any good Canadian he goes to Tim Hortons and he rolls up the rim and it says ‘go west young man’, and that’s kind of the rest of the movie. Just him traveling west [from Toronto] and going to Tofino. We just kind of ran with that idea and so we figured we’re pretty much as far west as you can get, except for Tofino,” Poynter said. “So it just kind of grew out of that.”
Their latest album, When the Ink Dries, which was released on March 6, is the follow up album to West My Friend’s award winning 2011 full-length album, Place.
“It’s a big range,” Poytner said about the new full-length record. “We’ve got songs with just the four of us, like you’d hear live and there is everything up to a 27-piece orchestra in a seven in a half minute epic about cats. We added a brass section on a few other tunes, which was a new thing for us. That was really excited.”
West My Friend teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer Joey Baker and Juno Award-winner David Travers-Smith to help create When the Ink Dries. The band focused heavily on arrangements and listeners should hear a more mature West My Friend sound, according to Poynter.
“We took more time to work on arrangements and really get everything nailed down before we went into the studio,” Poytner said. “I think we’ve solidified more as a group and maybe have more direction in where we want to our sound to be. I would say this one is more dramatic because we have things like the orchestra. I think the style of our songs have become more dramatic as well and I think the writing has gotten stronger as well.”
Even though the When the Ink Dries tour concludes on May 3 in Victoria, West My Friend are already looking ahead to playing at the a handful of festivals this coming summer.
“We’ve got three this summer [Vancouver Island Music Festival, Oak Harbor Festival and Harmony Arts Festival]. We really love playing festivals. They are always a lot of fun because you get to play for a big audience that is excited to hear you play and then you get to spend the rest of the weekend hanging out and listening to music and meeting musicians,” Poytner said.
When it comes to organizing tours, Poynter, along with the rest of the band, like to do research ahead of time and find out which venues are worthwhile.
“It is just knowing everything that is out there and being selective in knowing which ones will pay your gas. We often try to play at a venue that will give us a place to stay because that’s a huge expense to pay a couple of hundred bucks to stay at a hotel every night,” Poynter said. “We try to have a route that makes the most sense. I’ve toured with other bands in the past, where if you looked at a map the tour route makes no sense and there is lots of backtracking. So it’s just making the route that has the least amount of driving.”
West My Friend perform at the Gabriola Folk Club, 240 Davis Rd. on Friday (April 25) at 7:30 p.m. For more information, please visit www.westmyfriend.com.