By Keith Sharp
When Fast Romantics’ Matthew Angus initially created the concept for his band’s new `American Love’ record, it was simply going to be a collection of love songs. But as the political climate changed drastically with the election of Donald Trump as the United States’ new president, Angus’s material underwent a total rewrite.
“What happened was, that we started touring these songs around and the more we played them to an American audience, the narrative that was coming back was so different from the stuff I was writing,” explained the band’s vocalist/guitarist in the midst of their current Canadian tour. “To me, it’s so important that I write for the times, I like to reflect what is going on around me, so I went back to every single song I had written for this album and re-infused those songs with what I was absorbing. I re-wrote some of those songs like 19 times”
Some two years in the making, `American Love’ is the end result of a band which Angus totally gutted and revamped fpllowing a number of personnel upheavals which constantly plagued Fast Romantics since the original lineup took shape in Calgary in 2008.
“I was looking for new influences in the room,” Angus explained in discussing how only himself and bassist Jeffrey Lewis are the sole survivors from the lineup which recorded `Afterlife Blue’ in 2013. “I was looking for people that could challenge the status quo and bring their own vibes into play.”
New recruits included mult-instrumentalist Kirty, guitarist Kevin Black, drummer Nick McKinlay and keyboardist Lisa Lorenz. “It was important to have Kirty and Lisa in the band because I wanted that man versus women esthetic and I think I have a beastly voice on my own so I liketo complement it with some female vocals,” Angus allowed.
Produced by the successful team of Gus Van Go and Werner F (The Stills, The Trews, Arkell) `American Love’ features a strong selection of 11, crafted compostions whch reflect the band’s `New Romantic style, “Why We Fight” being the lead off single.
“I like to think there has been a steady growth in my ability as a songwriter,” allowed Angus. “I have never wanted us to put out quickly forgotten music. We are not writing flash in the pan pop songs.”
You’d get an argument that there wasn’t much wrong with the original incarnations of the band. Praised by U.S based Spin Magazine, which in 2009 entered the band in their ” Free The Noise” contest, which earned them a concert appearance at New York City’s famed CBGB’s. Yet despite releasing a self-titled album in 2009, an Ep `Kidcutter’ which attracted TV exposure on shows like One Tree Hill, Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries and their 2013 Afterlife Blues release which won the band a Sirius XM award for “Funeral Song”, Angus couldn’t keep a steady lineup together.
Fast Romantics did pick up a SOCAN Songwriting Prize for “Julia” in 2016, indicating to Angus that his new formation was on the right track. “We are greatful for any little piece of recognition we receive,” Angus noted. “It just boosts our confidence that we are moving in the right direction.
Signed to Jonathan Simpkin’s Vancouver-based Light Organ Records, which is a spin-off of Nickelback leader, Chad Kroeger’s 604 Records label, Angus believes that the record industry in general has survived the turmoil of the past 10-15 years and the business overall is on an upswing.
“I think record labels have learned how to support their artists and the people who work for them are more passionate about music,” Angus explained. “Certainly, we are blessed by having a label that is sensitive to us and really want to work with us. The present climate has pushed labels to re-think how to be a record company.”