By James Keller
Nicole Hughes is a little nervous and asks when it last snowed in Calgary.
"We have a crisis," explains the Scratching Post frontwoman in a worried voice.
The crisis in question is that transportation for the band’s upcoming tour is all but falling apart–instead of venturing out for the first time in a full-fledged tour bus as they had hoped, the band might be stuck with an old van and trailer.
"Because of the time of year, we were going to make a special exception," she explains, remembering just last week she got frostbite after a show while waiting for her car to warm up.
The time to make a decision is running out, as Scratching Post begins their cross-Canada tour with fellow metal-rockers Corrosion of Conformity and Clutch on Jan. 30. This lineup is more than a little different from their tour last year with Big Sugar–and as Hughes expects, so will the crowds be.
"Big Sugar, they’re definitely more college crowds but this Corrosion of Conformity crowd is definitely more a metal crowd," says Hughes.
Scratching Post’s loud, in-your-face guitar riffs, mixed with catchy melodies brought out through Hughes’ voice, attract younger crowds to the shows as well. Unfortunately, there are times when the band simply can’t play all-ages shows.
"For some reason we don’t have a choice," explains Hughes, pointing out that some provinces don’t seem to be as receptive to all-ages shows as others. Even so, younger kids frequently visit the band before their shows.
"Sometimes I’m like, ‘hey, do you want to work for the night? Then you can sell our merchandise,’" says Hughes.
By putting them to work or inviting them to see the sound check, Hughes hopes to accommodate everyone she can.
The band’s current tour is in support of their new album, This Time It’s Personal. Some critics claim the new record is much harder-sounding than previous efforts but Hughes says there aren’t any big changes to be heard.
"It’s the production," says Hughes, crediting Detroit songwriters/producers Chris and Drew Peters with the changes.
"[They] focused in on the sound we wanted [and] took a lot of time on the guitar sounds and everything."
Hughes also admits that although the lyrics might be a bit darker, any changes musically-speaking were subconscious.
Armed with a new sound, a new tour group and, with a little luck, perhaps even a tour bus, Hughes and company will scratch up the MacEwan Hall Ballroom floor with Corrosion of Conformity, Clutch and Clearlight Feb. 2.
For more band information, naked fan photos and other online fun, check out Hughes’ "baby," www.scratchingpost.com.