Walrus’ Wild Ride

Photos courtesy of Walrus

One of the latest powerful retro-inspired bands coming out of Halifax's amazing music scene, Walrus brings amazing psychedelic rock with heart. The band's already budding career was quickly swept up by an eager Dan Mangan and his Madic Records label. Dropping their new record, Family Hangover this past summer, the band is now embarking on the second half of a multi-month tour that is putting them through their paces.

We caught up with vocalist Justin Murphy ahead of the band's set November 15 at LIVE! on Elgin to talk about their new record, shooting videos and how they managed to get banned from AVIS.

Ottawa Life: How did you want to change things up from the Goodbye Something EP when you started working on Family Hangover?

Justin Murphy: We recorded those songs all at the same time, and then Madic wanted to put out an EP first. So we plucked four songs from those sessions. It gave us more time to sit down and pick apart that album so it would sound more the way we wanted it to. We could experiment more which was really nice, and it wasn't rushed at all. The guy who recorded the album, Charles, talked us into trying things. We had the time to see if things would work. Slowing tapes on the drums on "Regular Face," we'd play it and then slow down the tape so everyone else had to play along to it. 

How did you guys end up working with Charles Austin in the studio and what did he bring to the recording process and sound?

He was very similar to us, he's a music nerd who likes a lot of the same music. I don't know how we started working with him. He had worked with a lot of people we'd liked at the time, and we always heard how cool he was. He's not too strict on you, he really lets you get comfortable in the studio.

I understand you had basically made full analog recordings of your record, is this an aesthetic preference or is it mostly practical for you guys?

It definitely wasn't a practical thing, it would've been easier to record right to the computer. When you record on tape everything just sounds warmer, the bass has more life, and the drums have more of a body. All the old records we like were on tape, so why wouldn't you want to sound like that.

How has Dan Mangan's support shaped your ability to take your band forward and how did you get working with him?

It was weird how it all came about. None of us really knew Dan. He was just a fan of the music, and he was just pushing really hard to put out our record. He was insanely supportive and great to work with. I've only met him two or three times but he's a nice guy, he always went to bat for us.

Do you think coming out of the Halifax scene forced you to work harder to stand out?

Yes, but at the same time coming from Halifax you're so far away from everything that you're already working harder anyways. It's built into if you want to do it. A lot of bands don't leave the city, so you have to have that desire. We'll hear a lot of bands complain about three hour drives and we'll say "Buddy we drove from Halifax." Halifax is nice though, and it is far everything which is nice in a way.

How do you find the collaborative music video process you've had with Jeff Miller?

Typically it's Jeff that comes up with the idea. He come up with the idea for our first video"Wearing It" and we had no other ideas so we just went with it. I think the only one we came up with was for the Bob Ross one. I was sitting around with my girlfriend watching Bob Ross and thought it would be funny. Then another time Jeff said "I just got this camera from my buddy, want to shoot a video?" We got it for a week and shot the reverse video for "Later Days." It's 45 seconds in one take, but the frame rate makes it a couple minutes. He's got a ton of ideas and he's always keen to shoot them. A lot of other people are starting to work with him now, which is good to see because he's super creative.

How did your whole car rental mix up earlier this year come up and was it a pain to find an alternative for your crazy extensive tour?

We had to switch companies. We were with AVIS, and they banned us. Apparently what happened was they just lease their vehicles, they don't buy them, so their lease runs out after X amount of kilometres so we had screwed over one of their agreements. Discount has been good to us though, I'm driving right now actually on the way to Quebec City.