Hit songs can be difficult beasts. Some bands spend their entire careers trying to distance themselves from the song that first defined them (think Radiohead or, um, Li'l Bow Wow).
And then there's Bedouin Soundclash.
The lead single off their sophomore album Sounding a Mosaic, "When the Night Feels My Song," was one of the most frequently played and recognizable Canadian hits in 2004 after appearing on a Zellers commercial. The melody was stuck in people's heads on a routine basis. It became the theme song for Kids' CBC, exposing it to both parents and small children.
It was one of the catchiest melodies of the decade, worming into people's brains and refusing to leave. It became an instant classic and made Bedouin Soundclash a household name.
"It's a really meaningful song for me," says bassist Eon Sinclair. "The fact that you're hearing it on the radio seven years after we wrote it while a lot of people that we've played with in the past have had singles come and go, is also meaningful."
He says "it's always fun" to play the song live because the crowds look forward to hearing it and, when they do, it's often the highlight of the night for much of the audience. There have been shows when the crowds sing the entire song with no help from vocalist Jay Malinowski.
"It's a real cool moment where we're interacting in a real way with our fans," Sinclair says.
More importantly, the song opened doors for the Toronto trio. Before then, they'd struggle to get people to show up to gigs in the Prairies or small town B.C. The shows were getting bigger in Toronto, but there would often be 20 people in a room, giving more attention to their vodka and soda than the band.
But then they hit the big time and toured the world, performing alongside Coldplay, No Doubt and The Roots, among others. Their third album, Street Gospels, was a modest success and was certified gold in Canada. They released Light the Horizon last September and the first single "Mountain Top" is being played in stations across the country.
Of the material that followed Sounding a Mosaic, Sinclair says the band never intended to write another single that would sway audiences the way their breakout did. The mandate of the band is to create sounds that haven't really been heard before and not to work within the confines of the ska and reggae they're associated with. They'd rather have a hit single with a totally different vibe than write a formulaic follow-up to "When the Night..." that sounds like Bedouin Soundclash.
"The notes have been around for centuries so we're just trying to find new arrangements for the notes. We sometimes do that by taking pieces of things that we like and putting them together in a whole new way," Sinclair says.
The band will be playing a few shows across the country before heading to England to play the Reading Festival in September. Now free from a major label contract, the band launched their own label Pirates Blend Records. As result, Sinclair says the band members are in the most positive headspace they've been in years.
"Not only do we have more creative control and more involvement on the business level, we have opportunity to provide for other people when we see fit," he says.
So far there are no concrete plans to record new material.
"We have some songs that have kind of been worked on for the last while that didn't feel appropriate for Light the Horizon that we feel we might be able to use, so we kind of have a start but we haven't really focused on that yet," Sinclair says.