Humble Canadian band The Strumbellas celebrated the U.S. release of their second album, We Still Move on Dance Floors, by touring North America. With a Juno fresh on the shelf and a Polaris Music Prize nomination, this six-piece band from Ontario is folking up peoples lives. Still on tour, the musical minds already have their sights set on new material.
I gave singer/songwriter/guitarist Simon Ward a ring and was greeted by a gentle, but enthusiastic presence, answering then thanking me for my questions. There were times in our conversation where I felt like was talking to an old friend. Despite their recent success, Ward was modest, saying, “there is nothing better to me in the world than [having] all your hard work pay off.”
The Strumbellas began their musical ventures back in 2008, releasing their first album, My Father and the Hunter, four years later. Listening to the first track, “Sailing,” off We Still Move on Dance Floors, reminded me of a hymn. The ethereal vocal harmonies started the album in such a delicate yet effective way. The musical nostalgia continued as “Sailing” floated through my speakers.
The initial idea came from keys player Dave Ritter. Being a big Beach Boys fan, Ritter pulled elements from his musical influences, blending his idea with five other musical minds. The Strumbellas don’t plan for a song to be made; it happens organically. Ward compares the process to an empty canvas saying, “if you hear it and like it, keep it.”
We Still Move on Dance Floors was heard and well liked, landing The Strumbellas a Juno for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year in 2014. A rather surreal experience, of which Ward feels honoured to be a part of; he is proud to make music that his fellow Canadians can appreciate. “I’m glad to see so many people enjoying it. That’s what means the most to me.”
On top of keeping their instruments tuned while touring Western Canada, the folk sextet is thinking ahead. New material is on the horizon as the band’s recent success only inspires Ward to write another album. Touring from New York to California, the self-proclaimed homebody admits his excitement to get back in the recording studio with his fellow bandmates. “It’s great that the record has been doing so well but now I wanna chop myself up and make an even better one,” says Ward.
However, The Strumbellas have no expectations and are keeping their chests down when it comes to creating new music. The response from the band’s fans have pushed them to continue their musical ventures, allowing their talent and sound evolve as they grow.