2009 war ein gutes Jahr für die Great Lake Swimmers – zumindest hat es die Band um Oberhaupt Tony Dekker von sehr guten Kritiken und Begeisterung in Kennerkreisen, mit ihrem mittlerweile vierte Album „Lost Channels“ dieses Jahr zu sehr guten Kritiken und gesteigerter Aufmerksamkeit gebracht. Doch ob das wirklich das Ding der Band ist, sang sie doch schon auf dem aktuellen Album „Everything Is Moving So Fast“. Nachdem wir hier schon vor einer Woche ein Video von ihrem Auftritt im Kölner King Georg präsentierten, können wir heute stolz ein ausführliches Interview mit Tony posten, der laut eigener Aussage dieses Jahr lernen musste, dass er nicht unzerstörbar ist…

1) Band facts:
Name: Great Lake Swimmers
Band members: Tony Dekker, Erik Arnesen, Bret Higgins, Miranda Mulholland, Greg Millson, Julie Fader
Founding year: 2003
Residence: Toronto
Current album: Lost Channels

2.) Questionnaire
How did you start making music at first?
I started making music at a young age, by teaching myself how to play guitar, and then immediately started to write songs. Back then I was influenced by the DIY and punk movement. I didn’t feel that traditional musical instruction was necessary in order to express oneself.
Which musical influences do you have?
Over the years I would cite Leonard Cohen as one of my biggest influences, in both his writing and music. As a Canadian songwriter he holds a very special place for me. I see him as a guiding light, and a true master and servant of song.
Great Lake Swimmers started as a solo-project and became a band in 2003 – why did you decide to become a band?
As I started to play more live shows, I started to recognize the importance of having extra firepower. I crossed paths with many like-minded musicians while playing in Toronto, and eventually pulled together a band, to help underline the songs I was writing at the time.
Your band line-up changes ever since – why is that so and how would you say does this influence your productions?
The project has always come back to being about the songs, and we’ve had many people drifting in and out of it with varying levels of commitment. I think it brings a new dynamic to each new tour and album. I have found a good core of musicians in Toronto to draw upon now, and I hope our current lineup will be more stable. Still, it’s a strength, too, to continually be breathing new life into the songs.
Could you tell how you normally write songs and which themes trigger your interest in writing about them?
One of the main things that I’m trying to get at the truth of is seeking/finding a kind of spirituality in the natural world; that there is a kind of truth, or spirit, or hidden power in the wilderness. And to me, the wilderness can take on many different forms. I take my cues from the solitude of natural environments, but they often overlap and jar against other kinds of environments, too. I prefer to get into a quiet space to write songs.
Could you tell how the production of your latest album “Lost Channel” took place?
We basically set up a portable, impromptu recording scenario in specialized, unique acoustic places, some that took quite a bit of planning. We had tried to record as much material as possible in these places, and then take all of those tracks back to the studio (the House of Miracles) to sort it out and do overdubs. We also mixed the album there. In the case of “Lost Channels,” there was quite a lot of preproduction as well. There was a lot of thought put in to how the songs should be directed before we approached the definitive takes.
For the production you choose to record in old churches and other unusual buildings – what where the reasons for that and how did the people owning the buildings react to your request?
At first the reasons for recording in these spaces was purely acoustic, but over the course of 4 albums I started to recognize that there were other important factors as well. Making the effort to record in special places also adds an element of reverence for the creative process. I found that by making these efforts, we were able to draw an even greater performance out of ourselves. This type of recording is a creative means to a creative end, and emphasizes the importance of the process. I think for the most part, the owners of these buildings were very open to that and made us feel welcome there.
Our favourite song of “Lost Channel” is “Stealing tomorrow” – could you tell what the song is about, how you came up with it, if there is a story behind it and how it was done?
“Stealing Tomorrow” is one of the first songs I started working on for the new album. It is special to me because the lyrics inform the song structure, in that there are really no verses or refrains. I wrote this song over the period of about a year, with single lines coming intermittently. I am also very proud of Bob Egan’s pedal steel work on it.
“Lost Channels” get great critics and seams to be some kind of a break through internationally for you – how do you feel about it and does this change something for you?
I’m pleased that the album has been warmly received, but I don’t view it as some kind of breakthrough because I have been writing songs and performing for almost a decade now. I think it has been a slow and gradual process which has involved a lot of hard work, and I see this album as a continuation of that work. So basically, it changes nothing. It’s most important to me to try to maintain a level of heightened creativity.
As “Lost Channels” was released in april 2009 – are you already working on new songs? If yes – how far are you and what can you tell us about them?
I try to write every day, but we have been touring so much this year that it has made that necessary solitude a rare commodity. I’m still very much focused on the songs from Lost Channels and hope to start in earnest on a new writing cycle in the new year.
What did you learn 2009?
That I am not indestructible.
What was your best personal experience in 2009?
Visiting Newfoundland for the first time, which is a province on the east coast of Canada, was definitely a highlight for me. I hope to return there soon.
What are your plans for 2010?
We will be doing a tour of China in early 2010. We were also invited to perform at the Winter Olympics, which are being held in Vancouver, Canada this year. We’re also planning a special concert in our hometown of Toronto for February. Beyond that, I hope to continue work on new songs and hopefully another recording project.
What do you associate with the expression “Bedroomdisco”?
A party of one.
Who filled out this questionnaire?
Tony Dekker from Great Lake Swimmers.

Thanks a lot, Tony for slowing things down and taking the time to fill everything out! For everyone now once more – Great Lake Swimmers live @ King Georg, Cologne:


Bedroomdisco-Gründer, Redaktions-Chef, Hans in allen Gassen, Golden Leaves Festival Booker, Sammler, Fanboy, Exil-Darmstädter Wahl-Hamburger & happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk - spreading love for great music since '08!

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