Generally, you have two choices when you hear the call of the wild. You can either retreat in fear like a big girl’s blouse, or you can stare death in the eye and wrestle that bastard to the ground. There’s only one choice when you’re in The Matinee, once the shirts come off.
It’s been an insane year for the Vancouver-based band, with four major Canadian tours, a few residencies in and around Toronto and the odd sojourn into the States under its belt to promote their breakthrough 2013 release, We Swore We’d See the Sunrise (not to mention a slew of major festival slots, like the band’s now-traditional Live @ Squamish blow-out).
Eighteen months since Light Organ Records released their debut full-length album, thanks in some part to the band’s punishing work ethic, you’d be hard-pressed to walk into a bar, pool hall, or cathouse without hearing the CBC and MuchMusic-minted hits “Young and Lazy” or “The Road” pumping from the radio.
But progress never stops. Returning exhausted to Vancouver at the end of the winter, vocalist Matt Layzell, drummer Pete Lemon, and guitarists Matt Rose and Geoff Petrie decided to power onward – approaching their old collaborator Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat) with a batch of undercooked new songs and half-cooked dreams of the next album. Bays turned around and said, “No dice—we’re starting from scratch.”
Sounds like the call of the wild. “It’s a departure,” affirms Petrie. “A very significant departure. It’s more rock.”
Bays and his regular cohort Ryan Dahle (Age of Electric, Limblifter) were fresh from their own heavily ad-libbed studio escapades in the Canadian supergroup Mounties when they booked the band into Vancouver’s Greenhouse Studios. With Dahle sitting in on bass, The Matinee spent two days raising their antenna to the noosphere, courting madness, reaching, stretching, rocking, and pretty much reinventing themselves.
“We were so creatively inspired by Ryan and Steve,” recalls Layzell. “We would just jam for two hours, stop, go back and listen to what we had and then go on to the next idea.” Twenty hours of tape later, the team zeroed in on four songs and spent the last furtive 12 hours nailing them down.
Appropriately enough, “Call of the Wild” is the first public blast from those wild sessions. It’s urgent, raucous, quirky, and manages to stuff about four different hooks into three-and-a-half minutes. Layzell’s Dylanesque stream-of-consciousness seals the deal, his hopped-up vocal capturing the balance of risk and seasoning—achieved after years of friendship, collaboration, blood, sweat and tears shared on and off the road by these old high school friends—that was captured in that crazy 72-hour ride.
The inspiration is palpable, not to mention infectious. “It just worked,” concludes the vocalist, with a shrug, about The Matinee’s three-day trip to the outer rings of imagination. In ontological terms, you’re hearing the real call of the wild. Not a title, or a notion, or a cute idea, but something that happened in real life, preserved eternally for your listening pleasure.