Five Questions With HemlockHotel

Ottawa, ON-based folk-rock Americana band, HemlockHotel has unveiled their new single, “America”.

Arriving on the precipice of the trio’s forthcoming self-titled album set for release on October 9, 2020, “America” is about growing up and wondering if you’re bound to repeat the life of your ancestors.

“Some critics wondered why a Canadian band wrote a song that focused on the USA and there are a few reasons,” band member Rod Leggett offers. “Though I was listening to a bunch of protest music, the muse did visit so I listened before she escaped.

“A lot of us want to see political change, but how do you go about that when you no longer have role models? There’s a line in the song about ‘what can be done, of fathers and sons?’; the boy in the song wants a better world, and a country that can stand on its feet, but he’s clearly unsure of himself and what to do.

“There’s no doubt there was a direct focus on the political. I mean, you can’t have it both ways: American art and culture gets exported everywhere and we’re so close to them, so we take a lot in. With adoption comes questions. American politics is in a wild period and it’s sometimes difficult to watch.”

Check out “America” below and find out more about the band via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

  • We’re an Ottawa based band and came together out of a common love for Americana/folk-rock music. We all worked at the same multi-storey office complex and were introduced by a common friend who asked us to play a lunchtime charity event. The event went so well, and the connection was so good, that soon after we formed the band.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

  • Writing and recording music is a unique art. I guess it’s a little like film, in that, it’s a group effort as opposed to the lonely painter with a canvas and her box of paints. In the lyrics we want to tell a story, maybe provoke some thought, but we never lose sight of musicality and what sound and rhythm have to say.
  • The goal of the first self-titled album was mostly to get comfortable and acquainted in a studio setting. We wanted to hear how our live-sound would translate in the studio. We all like Blue Rodeo’s Five Days in July, and the approach taken in recording the album on Greg Keelor’s farm, and the no frills nature of the songs and sound.
  • Of course, our music is original but we acknowledge our debt to the past and to the musicians who have shaped our taste. In fact, we are quite grateful to be able to sit on their shoulders, the shoulders of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty the Band, and more modern acts like the Tragically Hip and Counting Crows. All music we call Americana.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

  • Naturally, the pandemic has put a dent in things. However, on October 3rd, 2020 we are putting on a marathon of sets for the Orleans Brewing Company’s Octoberfest. A live performance allows us to connect with our fans in a unique way, a combination of singalongs and dancing. Basically, we try to recreate a good ol’ fashion kitchen party at whatever venue we’re playing at.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

  • Right now, we’d have to suggest “America” considering what’s going on in the United States. It’s a song about a young man who is conflicted by what’s happening with his country and wondering how positive change can be made.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

  • Well, we’re older guys loving our 40s and the experience we’ve picked up over the years. In a live show we’ll honour our Canadian mentors in playing songs by the Hip, Blue Rodeo, the Band and we also love our French Canadian brothers like the two Daniels, Lanois, and Bélanger.

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