Interview- Winter Gloves

On August 29, 2009 I had the great pleasure of interviewing the Montreal indie-rock outfit Winter Gloves. Despite my inexperience as an interviewer, the guys were awesome. Lead singer Charles F was very nice and a little soft-spoken, with drummer Patrick Sayers as the most vocal and outgoing. Guitarist Jean-Michel Pigeon and keyboardist Vincent Chalifour were also a little on the quiet side but were also very nice considering I was a virtual unknown interviewing them.

First I asked them whst kind of music they grew up listening to and if it influenced them. Patrick said he really idolized his older cousin and grew up listening to classic rock such as AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, and the style of music did influence the way he approached the drums. Charles said he started listening to Michael Jackson and New Kids on the Block, but eventually discovered Nirvana and Metallica. Vincent said he really liked progressive metal and rock but said he eventually made a u-turn when he realized he didn’t want to play as fast as he did. Charles added to that, saying Vincent didn’t really have a choice in the matter. When Charles wrote the songs for Let me Drive EP he said he needed a good sound mixer and Vincent was the guy for him. Vincent said he really liked the songs and wanted to play them. As for Jean-Michel, he said first that he was the only one who didn’t listen to Metallica. He said that he hung out with skateboarders and listened to bands like Primus.

Next I asked for Charles’ last name, only to be met with failure. Charles said that it will just remain F, and that he has forgotten his last name. Vincent jokingly added “F is for forgotten.”

When I asked Charles about his stint with Lady Grey, he said that it was a really complicated band to rehearse with. They had two rehearsals a week, one in Quebec City and one in Montreal. That made it very difficult for him and he ended up playing only three shows with them.

I then asked about the origin of the name Winter Gloves. Charles said that he lived in England for a year and then moved to Montreal to start a band. At the time he was working as a climbing instructor. After working with Vincent, Charles started looking for a band name. He said he wanted something with Winter in the name because they are a North American band and he loves the cold and the winter. While working in the shop he said that he was facing gloves all day, and said that that was how he came up with the idea of Winter Gloves.

I then inquired about their tour with Thunderheist in April. Patrick said that the tour was great, that the two types of music really complemented each other, despite the craziness of the tour. He also said that in November they will again be touring with them on the west coast of the United States.

When I asked if About a Girl was inspired by a girl, Charles said that he had grown up in small-town suburbs and when he lived in England he got to see shows a lot more often and was excited by big city life. He then wanted to live in Montreal and said that About a Girl can be about a city, the feeling that one gets when they visit a big city after living in a small town, the feeling of everything being new and exciting. It also captures the seduction element of the big city, seduction that can be harmful or very beneficial to someone.

After his response I had to ask about their song “Glass Paperweight” which was the inspiration for my username as well as the domain name for this blog. Charles said it was the first song he wrote for the project and said that is used to be a really heavy guitar-laden rock song. After writing other songs, Charles revisited his first song and figured that it should have been a little more relaxed like the other songs in the project. Charles said that it is the only song on the album that has a bit of a negative tone. He said that he is a negative person and tries to write as much positive music and as he can. He also said that it is a song they don’t play at their live shows because while it is not totally depressing, it is a change of pace from their other songs.

Patrick said that most of Winter Gloves’ gigs have been opening acts, with an allotted time of 30-40 minutes, and because of this they didn’t have any time to take a breather or bring down momentum. When they have their own crowds and headlining gigs, Patrick said, they will have more time to play songs like “Glass Paperweight.”

I asked about any new music they’re planning on releasing, and Charles first mentioned  A Way to Celebrate, an upcoming release which features alternate versions (acoustic, live or remixed) of all the tracks from About a Girl. They are also now writing their second album, and said that they hope to release it in Canada and the United States in April.

I then asked about a blog post I had read about the “division” of the Montreal musis scene and if they thought that anglophones and francophones were still divided, but they didn’t really think that at all. Patrick said that maybe 3-5 years ago the scene was divided, but now with the increase in indie bands everyone seems to be in the spirit of helping each other out. Montreal francophone bands like Malajube and Les Breastfeeders are a good example of bands accepted by anglophones. Patrick added that he understands what the blogger was talking about but says that Winter Gloves are certainly not going to “wave a flag and say ‘WE’RE GOING TO BRING QUEBEC TOGETHER!'” to quote Patrick directly.

Vincent added that the only barrier left is music companies that categorize between French and English music. When this happens, bands may not get to work with certain producers and music industry people or play the same venues based on their “French” or “English” label.

When I inquired into any developments on their stolen van case, Patrick gave such an amazing story that I must quote it word for word.

Patrick: We got absolutely no help from that cops on that one. Charles spent tons of time at the police station trying to explain that the van was stolen and they said “You left the guy the keys and you left it there over the winter time so technically it’s not stolen, the guy could have just moved with the van.” We said “No, the van had a parking plate, no one’s supposed to drive it unless the van needed to be moved so that [the snow could be plowed].” No one’s looking for it, it’s just lost. To put the cherry on the cake, this guy is my uncle. My uncle fucking robbed our band’s van. It’s pretty aggravating.

Charles: Do you want to keep it off the record?

Patrick: That is so on the record!  You can’t miss [the van]. If you open it up it looks like you’re in a freaking limosine. There’s a mirror in there, blue faux-leather padded walls, it’s got a bench. It’s a pimped out old red van.

Vincent: A 1992 Chevy van.

Michael: So it’s not like you just lost a crappy thing that could be easily replaced?

Patrick: Well we wanted to resell it! That was the whole point, we stored it over the winter and were going to take it in the summer. I was wondering why my uncle’s phone number didn’t work anymore and I figured it out when I showed up at my uncle’s place and they said “Oh, he hasn’t lived here in a long time, he just disappeared!”

I then asked about my topic of interest- women in music. Patrick mentioned the Donnas, a group that he really liked. He saw them in a live show and said that they “blew [his] mind.” Patrick said he’s tired of “sausage fests” and said that he’s really happy that there are a lot of girls at Winter Gloves’ shows. Charles jokingly added that the reason girls come to their shows is because of Patrick.

I then asked them to make up their dream female super group. They came up with the final roster of Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love on guitar, Melissa Auf der Mar on bass and Cindy Blackman on drums.

I then asked what Canadian indie artists they are listening to. Patrick joked “I don’t listen to any music but my own!” Charles said he discovered Chad VanGaalen, the Polaris-prize nominated arist. Vince mentioned A.C. Newman, Patrick Watson, and French bands like Karkwa. Charles mentioned Clues, who they saw at the Hillside Festival in Guelph.

Finally I asked about how the crowds are in the United States as opposed to Canada. Patrick said that crowds varied from state to state, mentioning that he thought that some of the people who saw them in the States didn’t really like them. He said that even in Canada crowds are definitely different. Comparing Edmonton to Montreal, he said that people go a lot more crazy in Montreal.

Overall it was a very enjoyable interview and got me excited for their show, which you can read a review for below.

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