With a new release, a six-track EP by the name of "Pages", looming large on the horizon and a cross-Canada tour to bolster this new entrant into their catalog, Big Wreck show no signs of slowing down. In-fact, the Canadian Rock stalwarts recently released the single, "Bail Out".
Bail Out has teeth, which is to say its heavier than the usual fare, a decadent mix of something so refreshingly new, yet carrying faint echoes of the best of the Thornley solo project. A song born of an artistic happenstance, "it was just sort of a fun riff that just spilled out one day", stated Big Wreck founder and frontman, Ian Thornely. "It's not one of those riffs that I documented. It just kept showing up everyday for a good week or two, I was like 'okay, maybe there's something here', because there's not much harmonically going on; it's more of a rhythmic pulse that's fun to play. Then I was like 'f*** it, I'll just put it down and I'll sketch it out. Let's see what comes of it' and it came together pretty quickly as a song, and then it was just a matter of approach."
The single is a ripe for the times scathing take down of the wealthy elite who sit above reproach in metaphorical ivory towers, or to hear Ian say it, "it's sort of front of mind for everybody, I think, on some level these days. As the haves and the have-nots become further and further apart, and the more you find out, the more disgusting it is. There's probably some anger, and rage, and a bit of spit in the lyrics, and there are some other elements to it, lyrically, as well. And that [the lyrical content of Bail Out] was honestly just born of, I guess, the fact that topic is front of mind for myself as well as many other people."
Speaking to his songwriting approach, Ian explained "the way that I write is usually the music first, then the song will kind of tell me what it wants to be about. I was humming along with the chorus changes and the words 'bail out' popped out. 'oh, there you go, now that's something you can write about. There's a lot of meat on that bone.'"
An ode to how Big Wreck are not only not slowing down, but wisely evolving with the ever-changing times is the news that, much like the release cycle of the "7" project, their recently recorded material will be released in three periodic EPs; rather than one all-encapsulating album. Six tracks per EP to see the release of all eighteen songs, with Pages being the first of the bunch, a marketing decision that's at least partially a response to the changing ways the public consumes music.
Speaking to how the advent of major streaming platforms and the time constraints of our hectically paced modern lives have combined together to where we, as listeners, cherry-pick our favourite songs, Ian mused "It's not like it used to be, where someone would get home, unpack a record, really read the liner notes, check out the artwork and, I mean, the activity was putting the record on and listening to it. But, I get that, because I do the same thing myself; I sort of cherry pick. If there's a new record out, I'll sort of skim across the top, 'oh, I like that! Let's listen to this.' Because, who has time? So, I kind of figured - it was sort of two-fold - that idea [of the cherry-picking of songs in the streaming landscape] coupled with the fact that we get to be out longer on tour, we get to tour the first one, then we get to tour the second one, then we get to tour the third one."
In releasing Pages, Big Wreck has signed to Canadian record label, Sonic Unyon. When asked what drove the decision to team up with a Canadian label, Ian stated "It's the relationship and the fact that we're sort free agents, if you will. A lot of that [decision to move to Sonic Unyon] was done with that in mind, like 'how can we regain as much control over our own music, but still have a partner?' Chip's a really good guy, he's running a tight ship over there. I only got to meet the guy last week and I really liked him."
Bringing a mix of fan favourites and new material to Saskatoon's Coors' Events Centre on December 16th of this year, Big Wreck's tour date in support of Pages sees them supported by Texas King and Vilivant. A date that will be in the icy depths of the city's brisk winter, something to which Ian joked "it's always so cold there, that it really is about trying to get from the bus to the dressing room to the stage in as little time as possible."
Despite Jack Frost's affront, Saskatoon's culinary delights left an impression on Mr. Thornley, "there is a hotel there that has a restaurant where they made a risotto out of barley, and I've never seen that done before. I've been trying to do it since and failing miserably."
Speaking of touring this vast nation, Big Wreck has succeeded where many Canadian acts have not; in achieving enough cross-country fandom to warrant the touring. But touring a country so large, yet so sparsely populated brings unique challenges. "In the U.S., you can get off stage and get a pretty good sleep in before you start driving to the next show, which will be an hour and a half to two to maybe three hours tops away. There's a market for you to play, there's a gig booked, you can route a tour fairly easily through the U.S., because there's so many people there. Whereas in Canada, how many markets are there really to put on a proper show? You're not looking at that many, and there's some of those drives; I think the one that kills everybody - that we've, of course, done a thousand times - is Toronto to Winnipeg. You know, going around that horn there, it's a killer, especially in the winter. I think we've, over the years, buried two vans on that drive; no word of a lie. Once you get west of Calgary, things can get really hairy in the mountains. We've broken down in the mountains, but we've never had a wipe out, like we've never had a bus sort of careen off the road and I know that's happened to a lot of people."
Yet, despite the logistical nightmare of booking and completing a tour in Canada, touring here holds a special place in Ian's heart, "I love touring anywhere we can, and that's the truth, I just love playing music. And I always love coming home, I always love playing in Canada. There's something about coming home, that's the simplest way of saying it."
And even for Canada's most successful, the change in music industry distribution has seen the rewards diminish, "in that sense that we're able to play shows and people show up and we can barely carve out a living, I'd say in that sense, yeah we've made it [in Canada]. There's a lot of bands, a lot of musicians that weren't able to get to this point; but we've sort of been at this point for twenty years. In a sense it's all I've really known, it's still very much hand to mouth, I still need to go on tour in order to feed the kids. That's just the way that the cookie crumbles these days. It wasn't necessarily that way when we started out, the business was quite different; if the record was good and the record got some airplay, then you'd sell some of them, then you'd go out and tour and hopefully sell some more, and that could help pay the rent. But, nowadays, it's pretty much solely playing live for us to survive."
So, if you haven't got your tickets yet for the show, consider doing so and supporting some of Canada's finest musicians.
Pages can be pre-saved on your preferred streaming service or purchased on CD and Vinyl record from your local record store.