On a hot day in May, Music Editor Nick Mason sat down with Max Kerman, frontman of Canadian indie band Arkells to discuss fame, songwriting, the future and the Avengers.
How’s the tour been going?
Been going good, last week of a month-long one. We’re always looking for opportunities to play to another band’s audience who might be receptive and Frank’s has been the most receptive we’ve ever played to. They’re really good about showing up early and being open to new bands and that’s all we could hope for.
— ARKELLS (@arkellsmusic) May 24, 2018
Has touring with Frank Turner had much influence on you?
Yeah, his songwriting, his work ethic, the way he communicates ideas through songs. We’re definitely astute observers of his stuff.
You guys are massive in Canada, what’s it like doing a support run in smaller venues?
It’s great. We’ll play all different sizes of venues, but we’ve never assumed anything is owed to us. Just because we are bigger in Canada doesn’t mean we can expect that in the States or the UK or anywhere else. You have to put in the effort and build your audience one fan at a time. There are so many bands who are bigger in the UK who come over to the US and are a lot smaller.
Has it been refreshing playing smaller venues?
It’s been as good, but I think we have to work harder to get feedback. When you’re playing your own big shows you don’t have to try as hard. People are there to see you and sing along, but when you are trying to impress people who have never heard of you before that’s when you earn your keep.
You guys have an eclectic mix of styles in your songs, where does that come from?
We’re always trying to write songs that feel honest and the reality is we have a lot of influences. We started with the music our parents had us listen to when we grew up such as The Beatles, the Stones, Bruce Springsteen and the quintessential rock and roll bands and then there’s some great 2000s indie rock like Arcade Fire and The Killers. Then there’s stuff like Chance The Rapper, Kayne and Arianne Grande. We kind of like all of it. We’re really just concerned about how good it sounds. So you listen to Knocking At The Door and we wanted the kind of Jesus Walk horns that Kanye had in that song and it something with that rock and roll might and slinky guitars.
What does the rest of the year hold for you?
We’re working on our new record. We just put out People’s Champ off the new one which will probably be out in the Fall. When we get home we’re got our own curated festival in Hamilton then we’ve got festivals in the States and Canada and we plan to come back to the UK in November.
Thanks so much for your time, I’ll let you go and enjoy the sun.
Is there a good place to run around here?
Yeah, if you go down to the lake and Avengers headquarters.