Nearly ten years ago, back when I was working at Isaacs’ Bar & Grill at Brock University as a student sound tech, the Fast Romantics rolled in to town. This must have been in 2010, and the band had just released their debut LP, their self titled The Fast Romantics. From what I remember, it was a cold winter night, and maybe three people came out to see this band who had ventured from Calgary, Alberta. Even though they played to no one, they didn’t seem to care (although I’m sure they did), and just enjoyed having the stage time. I remember buying their CD and adding it to the rotation for a while.
I didn’t really think of them again for a while after the record got shelved with the rest, until I started hearing the song “Funeral Song” from their 2013 record Afterlife Blues, on constant rotation on Indie 88. “Funeral Song” turned out to be the bands first big step forwards, earning the band national respect. After three years of constant touring, fans were starting to show up at their shows. “The people that were always saying ‘no’ to us, were finally starting saying ‘yes’ a little bit more,” primary singer-songwriter, Matthew Angus recalled.
But, I learned later, the band that recorded that song, was a different band than the band I had seen a few years ago. The band was constantly adding and losing members because touring throughout Canada may sound like the dream for some, it’s not necessarily something everyone wants to do long term.
In 2013, lineup changes kept happening and they brought in two Australian members while they were working on Afterlife Blues. By 2014, the band had reduced itself to it’s two core members, Angus and bass player Jeffrey Lewis.
They moved the band from Calgary to Toronto and started to rebuild from scratch, bringing in singer/songwriter Kirty (multi-instrumentalist), Kevin Black (guitars, vocals), Nick McKinlay (drums) and in 2015 Lisa Lorenz (keyboards).
“In the early days it felt like the Fast Romantics were a different band every time we put out a new record,” said Angus. “It took five years to solidify this line up. This is the first time I have felt like we’re a band and it’s going to be that way for a long time.”
Once the lineup was solidified, the band released their first single from their 2017 record American Love, titled “Julia”, in 2015. The single took off, reaching the Top 5 on CBC Radio 2 in Canada, and the music video featuring the band dancing with Fred Astaire was short-listed for a Prism Prize.
“”Julia” really gave me the confidence I needed. Before then, I think I always felt like I had imposter syndrome, and “Julia” just made me confident as a songwriter, and everything kind of lined up at the same time,” said Angus. “This was the first time we were going to make a record where the lineup hadn’t changed. We got to start from scratch.”
American Love was the restart the band needed. The record’s official first single “Why We Fight”, signaled was released on the same day as the inaugauration of Donald Trump, and the record explored the depths of love and politics.
Last November, Fast Romantics released the first single “Mexico” from their upcoming fall, full-length album and followed it up with “Do No Wrong” in May.
The songs vary in sound and nature, showcasing the different sides and moods of the band. “Mexico” is moody and introspective, and “Do No Wrong” is the feel good summer hit from the record.
“We really wanted to give people a taste of how many different flavours are happening in the workshop. Those songs are kind of the two extremes on the record, so it was cool to let those ones loose early.”
These songs, and the subsequent album were self-produced and self-recorded and are the strongest the band’s released to date. Angus explained that this record will be the first one he’s perfectly happy with, as he looks forward to the release.
“Everything has been a big adventure up to here. I think the result is going to be spectacular because of it. We left our record label, started our own, built our own studio, and now we’re ready to do things our way. I’m really stoked about the crew of people in this band,” said Angus. “I don’t think we’d still be here if we had not found each other. We’re going to be a band for a really long time and we’re ready to start focusing on making a lot more music.”
Fast Romantics perform on August 11 at Niagara Oast House Brewers.