Great Lake Swimmers Expand Their Horizons

Monday, 12 April 2010

It's always a tremendous event to watch a band grow beyond their beginnings. Sometimes that growth is artistic and more fascinating is when the band grows literally, but in the case of Great Lake Swimmers, it just happens to be both. Wainfleet, Ontario-born singer/songwriter Tony Dekker first founded what would eventually become his Canadian folk rock institution in 2003 and did it the way in which it suited him best: he started alone on the circuit – playing his songs with the guitar he played and nothing else – and began to amass a following. In the seven years since those modest beginnings, not only has the singer developed a significant fan-base and lauded career [Great Lake Swimmers have been nominated for Favorite Root Artist/Group at this year's Juno Awards –ed] but the size of the band has also increased as time has worn on. “It's been really gratifying to see how things have come together over the last few years,” says Dekker in calm, reflective tones. “Great Lake Swimmers started out as a solo project and the first album was basically a solo album but, over the course of the last six or seven years, I've put a band together and we've settled on a pretty good lineup which has been the same and solid for the last year or so. As it stands right now – and I hope it stays this way for a while – Brett Higgins is on bass, Miranda Mulholland is playing violin, Greg Millson on drums and Erik Amesen will be on guitar and banjo. Erik has been the longest-standing member of the band, having been there for the last five or six years. That has become sort of our standard these days.

“It's been really interesting too that the Juno thing came when it did,” continues the singer. “The most recent album, Lost Channels, was the one that nominated and it was really more of a band effort in that there was more involvement from the band this time. On previous records, I've usually taken a bit more control over the sessions, but it really felt as though we'd developed into more of a band.”

The kudos that Great Lake Swimmers have received for Lost Channels are certainly well-deserved. This time out, the band resonates with a fantastic sense of nostalgia and heart in songs like “Everything Is Moving So Fast,” “Pulling On A Line” and “She Comes To Me In Dreams” that are each guaranteed to make hearts melt as Dekker belts against fear and the loss of love in sweet and melodic tones while the band works to present a cathartic and reflective vibe with him that will warm a listener's heart. In the end, as “Unison Falling Into Harmony” delivers on its name, listeners are left with the impression that, against all imaginable odds, there is a peace in the band's valley that feels almost unprecedented; particularly when stacked next to similarly bent (but by no means as well-executed) sounds that shoot for the same end but somehow manage to fall well-short by comparison.

Such a breathtaking presentation would make for a heart- and nerve-soothing show on its own, but according to Dekker, when the Great Lake Swimmers take the stage on their current series of shows that will find them performing around Ontario as well as Manitoba and down into the States, they will have greater things in store for audiences. “On this tour, we'll be playing songs from our entire discography,” says the singer confidently. “Obviously, we're going to concentrate on the new album as well as on the live EP that we just put out, The Legion Sessions, but we'll be playing songs from throughout our life as a band. At the same time, I may also start working on some new songs; I mean, I always have songs in progress, but there are no immediate plans to go in and start on a new record. I think there's still a lot of life left in Lost Channels, although we may do some demos over the summer. If that does happen, I can guarantee you that it will happen naturally and that's not really easy to do on the road. I really found that with the support we did for the last album – we released Lost Channels in 2009 and we basically toured all over Canada, the US and the UK and, most recently, China in the last year in support of that record. It was all great; China in particular was completely different from North America, for sure. Touring there was certainly a very different experience, and I thought it was a positive one and a total surprise to us that we had an audience over there; we had some really great shows, but it's not one of those situations that's particularly conducive to writing. I find, because there are so many distractions while we're out on tour, it's hard to get into that place that feels comfortable for writing; when I do get into a writing mode, I like to go to a quiet place – like out to the woods or something – so I can be inspired that way.

"I really need the quiet time to sort of collect my thoughts and, while I try to write on an ongoing basis, it's just more difficult to do it on the road.”


Tour Dates:

A current listing of Great Lake Swimmers' upcoming tour dates can be found here .


Lost Channels
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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