Shred Kelly might have started out as ski bums, but nine years and four albums later, success has gotten in the way of a slacker mountain lifestyle—sort of.
"It's been hard to fit (skiing and snowboarding) in because we decided to do an album release in the winter," says Tim Newton, frontman of the upbeat Fernie folk-rock group. "We've been pretty good at getting up the mountain whenever we can. Jordan (Vlasschaert, bassist and guitarist) is pretty diehard. We'll get home from tour exhausted and he'll get up a few hours later to get up the ski hill."
That anecdote alone might explain the band's devoted Whistler following. While Shred Kelly started out as a banjo-picking, foot-stomping party band that primarily toured ski resorts they've slowly expanded their reach over the last decade. "We grew and blossomed in the ski-town circuit in B.C. all the way to Whistler," Newton says. "It's been so great, but every album our sound changes a bit and gets a little more palatable to everybody. I think it's a great thing. We decided to expand our market as much as possible and get out to the East Coast of Canada. We've done a few tours of Europe. We even went down to Australia."
That travelling is only getting starting for 2018. The band released their fourth full-length album, Archipelago, on Feb. 16 and launched a supporting tour that will continue into the summer festival season.
As part of their ongoing evolution, this time around they shared songwriting duties more than they have in the past, Newton says. "When we wrote that first album (2010's Goodbye July) it was a lot me. I was just picking up the banjo and letting that be the inspiration for the songs. It's raw and banjo-driven. Over the years, Sage (McBride) has taken such a great role in songwriting and singing. We've gotten to know each other and how the process works. This album, we (had) everybody fully into the songwriting process."
Where the last two albums were recorded in Toronto in short, continuous spurts, this time around, the band took their time, recording the instrumental parts in Calgary and the vocals in Vancouver with producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, The New Pornographers, 54-40).
"It was neat to break it up like that," Newton says. "We had the time and it was closer to home. We could go to Calgary, record five songs ... sit back, listen to them and decide what to do in the Vancouver sessions."
The result is a fuller, more mature sound, but long-time fans will be pleased to hear the songs still possess the same joyful, banjo-driven backbone that drew them to the dance floor in the first place.
Whistlerites can hear those new tracks at the GLC on Thursday, March 29. It's a venue the band is very familiar with, Newton says.
"We definitely have some regulars coming out (to every show in Whistler)," he says. "I'm personally always excited to play Whistler. I used to live there years and years ago. The first time we played the GLC was opening for Elliot Brood. From that point on it felt like it was a good dance party."
Tickets are $15. Get them at www.showpass.com/shredkelly.