The sun be rising and setting

By Amanda Hu

“Everyone in the band has a lot of different interests and influences and backgrounds and then when we put that all together, it’s kind of like a stew,” says multi-instrumentalist Michael Doerksen of his band Sunset Rubdown. “Like, [putting] a blues riff against a prog riff, you’re just creating a stew of genres that hopefully becomes something unique.”

Sunset Rubdown have made a name for themselves through mixing key ingredients and concocting some very satiating musical creations. Originating as a solo project of the band’s lead singer/songwriter Spencer Krug–who is often known best known for his greater commercial success with the later-created Wolf Parade and his sometime work with Swan Lake and Frog Eyes–the band’s membership pulls from many different strongholds in the Canadian independent music scene as Krug recruited Camilla Wynn Ingr of Pony Up!, Jordan Robson-Cramer of XY Lover and Magic Weapon and Doerksen of Trancelvania.

With the release of their third album, Random Spirit Lover, the band took on the challenge of working segues from each track to the next, making the album even more cohesive than one’s typical collection of 12 or so tracks. The tracks were also recorded sequentially to better work each transition into the next.

“I think the songs track-by-track work as songs and I think some of the segues are kind of creating a jigsaw puzzle,” says Doerksen. “So, we’d have to step down a key or play something and change a chord so it fits in a song. We were weaving them together and it’s not necessarily tiring, but more of a challenge.”

The band finished the album in Jan. 2007 and had to wait nearly nine months for the album’s release on Oct. 9, 2007. With the inevitable lag time created by record company promotion technicalities, the band was already onto other projects by the time the album actually hit the shelves. Though they had that freedom to focus on other things, Doerksen says that it’s not too creatively stifling to go back to projects.

“We wrote half of those songs then toured them in the spring,” he explains. “Yeah, we have to come out and promote this record when it comes out, but the set we play is a combination of the first record and the second record. It’s the way the record industry works. A label has to time things with other bands on their labels, other labels and other releases.”

Throughout Sunset Rubdown’s evolution, the band has made strides to move away from the solo-project-with-a-back-up-band connotation and establish themselves as a cohesive unit. Though, the band is still very tied to Krug’s personal investment and direction, each member brings something unique to the sound and creative process, making for a more rich sound in the music.

“We definitely have a lot of respect from where [Spencer’s] coming from and he’s definitely a guiding force and light but he gives us a lot of freedom to do things that we want to do,” Doerksen says. “His direction with us will start with a guitar or piano piece and would be limited to, ‘Humour me and pick up this melody.’ Maybe he’s singing and we’ll amplify it or he’ll say, ‘Try and do something in the high register or a low register,’ and we’d come up with our own parts.”

As the band continues to improve relationships with each other, their creations become more and more cohesive, solidifying Sunset Rubdown as a powerhouse in Canadian music.

“We have a formula and it’s really working for us,” says Doerksen.”The more time we’ve had together, the more collaborative it feels. We all try out own little styles and Spencer respects that too and he wants that. He wants us to bring something of our own little things.”

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