Music Interview: Wintersleep don’t sleep through winter

By Rachel Betts-Wilmott

The earth spins along at 1,669 kilometers an hour, making it impossible for any of us to truly stand still. Even if we were to somehow stop the earth in its tracks, the atoms we’re made of vibrate incessantly. While most of us fools are still trying to find some way of slowing down, the members of Wintersleep have embraced the hoopla.

“We toured for nine months of last year,” says bassist Jud Haynes. “Mostly we tour in the dead of winter. I wouldn’t say it’s because of our name, but maybe just because we’re in Canada.”

What with seasonal affective disorder and the hairy nights of touring, it’s a surprise anyone can keep their wits about them with Wintersleep’s schedule. The band, however, claims they do.

“We haven’t picked up any quirky habits while we’ve been on the road,” insists Haynes. “We stop at gas stations about twice a day, but that’s more because we run low on gas. I suppose we stop at Tim Hortons every morning, ’cause no matter where you go they’re exactly the same and just like the one at home–but I’ve never even tried their coffee.”

Haynes maintains even the ritualistic Timmy-Hos stops are merely habit and not addiction, citing their recent trip down to Texas for the South by Southwest Festival as proof. Tragically, there are no Timmy’s in the States, but then again, when you’re taking part in the music industry’s largest showcase, you don’t need crack-laced coffee. Perhaps more importantly, while in the Lone Star State, Haynes and his associates were able to bask in not only the hectic beauty of SXSW, but also the sun.

“It was great!” Haynes rhapsodizes. “It was warm every day. We were able to walk down the street in t-shirts to see some amazing bands play. For us, playing the show was secondary, we were excited to be there.”

It wasn’t long before they were back on the road, with the Dependent Tour, speeding their way across Canada with compatriot artists, Jill Barber and Contrived, from the Halifax-based label.

More significant than all the traveling is Wintersleep’s creative animation. Even musically they’re moving. To compare “Sore” from their 2003 release Wintersleep and “Fog” from their latest release Untitled is to compare the work of a child to that of its adult self. Wintersleep doesn’t sound like the release of a complete group, but more like a mish mash of influences and references from the ’90s. On Untitled, the band works together and comes into its own, using those same stimuli as a jumping off point to something altogether different.

“Wintersleep was started by Paul [Murphy],” explains Haynes. “At the time he was in a noisier, heavier band, but he wanted to record a solo, folky album, however he still wanted a band behind him. “When the rest of us came in most of the songs had already been written–there’s maybe a small handful off Wintersleep that the rest of us took part in. But we all started getting really into playing as this band, so the next album was a total band effort. Now, this is it, this is what we do.”

With their nose to the grindstone and the pedal to the metal, Wintersleep can do anything from receiving critical acclaim to staving off SAD. Maybe if they keep up this pace of incessant touring circle the globe so fast time will stand still.

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