By Will Yannacoulias
Saskatoon siblings Erica, Julie and Lenore Maier have been winning over awestruck audiences as The Garrys since spring of 2015. Their debut release, 2016’s Warm Buds, introduced listeners to their signature brand of eerie alternative surf rock, with dreamy underwater guitars and triple vocal harmonies defining what the band has termed “Doom Wop”. 2017’s Surf Manitou and the acclaimed 2020 Häxan movie score kept the momentum going for the sisters, who were recording tracks for their latest album when the pandemic started. Many artists went on hiatus or took quiet creative time during the pandemic, but The Garrys weathered the experience by completing their new album and participating in several unique perfromance projects that kept them connected and active.
Recording sessions for The Garry’s forthcoming album were underway when the pandemic restrictions began. “It was a weird experience” the band recalled, “we were in the studio when Saskatchewan sent the alert messages to our phones about going into emergency measures. We were thrust into this little bubble of COVID anxiety, but sheltered in it as well so we could record the album. We worked with Barrett Ross at PR Productions and had Dallas Good (founding member of celebrated Canadian alt-Country group The Sadies) as our producer. We were so fortunate because if it had been scheduled even three or four days later, I’m sure he wouldn’t have gotten on a plane from Toronto to come and work with us. It was really serendipitous that it worked out. The entire project was a very special experience, we were doing all this ultra creative stuff, working on this album that is easily our best work, yet whenever we had a break we were all freaking out. It was really cool to meet Dallas in a situation like that, I feel like we bonded on a really special level that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”
In 2019 The Garrys undertook a uniquely Saskatoon art project; they joined the ranks of several other local indie artists to score a silent horror film, Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages, for the Roxy Theatre’s Silent Classics Series. Unable to perform their score live in 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions, The Garrys instead released the score as their third official album and streamed the film Häxan online along with their supporting score in lieu of an album release party. The Häxan score was a huge success for The Garrys, leading to them winning the 2020 SaskMusic award for Best Experimental/Contemporary Artist. “We were fortunate to be invited by The Roxy Theatre to join the Silent Classics series” The Garrys shared. “I think it was a lot more work than we anticipated so it was really gratifying to get some recognition from SaskMusic and the SaskMusic awards. We appreciate anyone who takes the time to listen to the whole thing and appreciate it for what it is because it’s quite lengthy, not a really easily digestible piece of music and it’s meant to be a companion piece to the film so we’re appreciative of whoever has the patience and trust in us to give it a shot.”
The Garry’s fully embraced the streaming concert concept, performing a couple online shows over the winter, one for the ‘Miles 2 Minutes’ series hosted by 9 Mile Legacy Brewing last November, and a second last March for The Broadway Theatre’s annual Winterruption event. Performances on a stage before a camera crew were recorded and streamed online for both venues. “The cool performance opportunities we’ve had during the pandemic can be attributed to other community organizations that have invited us to perform” the band shared. “Really cool efforts to provide entertainment to people.”
Streaming shows have been a valuable opportunity for artists to stay connected with their audience, but nothing compares to the immersive excitement and shared energy of live performance. The Garrys will be in Prince Albert July 7th to participate in the Drive In Concert series being hosted by the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. The socially distanced outdoor performances, happening all summer long, are a welcome intermediate step to bring back live music. The Garrys are enthusiastic about the opportunity to appear onstage before a live audience. As the band said, “All these unique performance opportunities have been awesome. We’ve been super grateful to have had so much that we’ve been able to do, because it has given us an opportunity to still jam in whatever capacity and stay excited about the music.” In addition to the Drive In performance in Prince Albert, The Garrys will be appearing at the Ness Creek Mini Break July 23-25. Their fourth studio album, Get Thee To A Nunnery, will be released on Grey Records September 24th.
Main photo by Elyse Bouvier. Live Photo by Kaelen Klypak.