The Strumbellas have been garnering quite a bit of recognition since their latest album We Still Move On Dance Floors was released in Canada last fall. They won a 2014 Juno for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year and a SiriusXM Indies award for Folk Group of the Year. Most recently they made the Long List for the Polaris Music Prize.
Lead singer Simon Ward says the recognition helps when you’re spending so much time on the road.
“It gets a little discouraging,” Ward says. “So that kind of stuff just keeps you going.”
Which is good, as the band quit their day jobs four months ago, before they’d won either award, to concentrate entirely on their music. Ward says their philosophy right now is to focus on the future and not look back.
“It’s really hard to make a steady living as a musician if you’re doing it part time,” Ward says. “It is a tough industry to make a living in, so if we don’t go full bore it’s not going to work for us.”
The band is spending the rest of the summer touring Canada to support their album — including playing at The Palomino Smokehouse on July 23 — and is heading to Oregon and Washington before the American release of their album on Sept. 9.
Since the band formed in Toronto in 2008, Ward says he is surprised by how quickly they’ve developed an audience in Western Canada.
“For the amount that we’ve been there, I think it’s been the place that had the quickest reception for our music,” Ward says. “It took us a good while to build an audience in Toronto. We were playing farmers markets, bars and on the street. It took three or four years to get an audience, but it seems like the first time we came to Calgary, or Edmonton, there were people there. I don’t know how that worked out, but for some reason things got really receptive, really fast out west.”
As for the Polaris Music Prize nomination, Ward said, prior to the Short List announcement that he didn’t want to think about it. He had psyched himself up too much when they were nominated for a Juno in 2013 for their debut album My Father and The Hunter.
“I got too excited and then we lost and it crushed my heart,” Ward says. “So I’m never going to do that again. I’m not even thinking about it.”
Instead, they are focusing on the tour and their music. Ward, who is always writing songs, says he has their next album already written. While he says they haven’t recorded anything yet, they intend to begin recording in the winter after they have finished touring.
The third album, Ward says, will have a stronger pop influence.
“I always want to keep roots and country in our vibe,” Ward says, “but the closer we can get to a pop sound the better for me because it’s my favourite kind of music.”