The guys in Royal Canoe have a lot to smile about! (courtesy Royal Canoe)
It felt good to go there and feel like we were at the top of our game. We've been really lucky.
—Bucky Driedger, Royal Canoe
It's been a breakout year for Royal Canoe.
The local electropop outfit has been touring relentlessly over the past 12 months in support of not one, but two critically acclaimed EPs -- Extended Play and the more recent Purple & Gold.
"It's been really great to be able to tour a lot," says guitarist/vocalist Bucky Driedger. "Everyone is really gung-ho to be on the road. It's been great to get to so many new cities and start to feel like we're making some in-roads."
'Some' is an understatement. In 2012, Driedger and bandmates Matt Peters (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Matt Schellenberg (keyboards, vocals), Brendan Berg (bass, keyboard, vocals), Derek Allard (drums) and Michael Jordan (electronic drums) inked a management contact with Nettwerk Music (U.S.) and booking agency agreements with Red Ryder (U.S.), LOUD Booking (France) and Burning Eagle Booking (Germany, Austria, Switzerland).
October's trip to New York's CMJ Music Marathon was also a major highlight. Royal Canoe was hailed as one of the best acts of the festival, garnering attention from a slew of tastemaking blogs and high-profile publications -- including the New York Times.
"We got a lot of great press," Driedger acknowledges with an incredulous laugh. "It felt good to go there and feel like we were at the top of our game. We've been really lucky."
And the momentum shows no signs of slowing. The band has finished recording a full-length album, slated for release in 2013. Driedger hints that the new album has a more cohesive vision; local fans will remember that Royal Canoe's 2010 debut, Co-op Mode, was a musical collage built around primary songwriter Peters' original compositions.
"This record is Royal Canoe as a band," Driedger says. "It's a refinement of the music we've been making over the past three years. There's still a fascination with rhythm, and hip hop rhythm specifically."
So it'll still be all about the grooves. "And the synths. There's lots of synths," Driedger adds with a laugh.
Royal Canoe also has another big project in the works. The band is putting together an avant pop interpretation of Beck's latest album Song Reader, which was released only on sheet music, to be performed live on February 2 as part of the New Music Festival's after-dark programming, Pop Nuit. "It's been a real challenge, but it should be a lot of fun," Driedger says.
Royal Canoe plays the Pyramid on December 28 with Tom Keenan and Animal Teeth.