'Best friends, brothers': The Dead South stick together during highs and lows

The Dead South are a Saskatchewan band with a bright future, but they've also had to overcome some obstacles.

Regina band released a new 12-song album called Illusion & Doubt

Scott Pringle (left) and Nate Hilts (right) of The Dead South. (Coreen Larson/CBC)

The Dead South are a Saskatchewan band with a bright future.

Since getting people moving in their home province, the "fun, modern hillbillies" have made waves across North America and into Europe.

But while touring in Germany recently, things came to a halt. The band cancelled their German tour abruptly.

Nate Hilts (vocals, guitar) and Scott Pringle (mandolin, vocals) told CBC Radio's Morning Edition the cancellation was due to their bandmate, Colton Crawford's (banjo), sleeplessness. 

"The touring lifestyle, it's not as easy as one might think," Pringle said. "It's a lot of time spent on the road and being around people. It was kind of just weighing Colton down."

"He had started suffering from insomnia and he wasn't getting sleep, which kind of led to more serious anxiety I guess. Just from not sleeping over and over and over again. This had been going on for like a year. We had only kind of found out about it a few months ago but just a year of no sleeping built up, it just all came crashing down after that."

Scott Pringle (left) and Nate Hilts (right) sit down with CBC Radio's Morning Edition. Their new album Illusion & Doubt is available now. (Coreen Larson/CBC)

Hilts said it wasn't something the band or Crawford himself were aware of beforehand.

"The exhaustion continued and continued and it kind of kept eating away at him and then in the end it just built up and built up more than any of us had foreseen," Hilts said. "It all just kind of happened at one moment and then it was like OK ... Scott woke me up a like three in the morning, four in the morning, he's like 'We're going home.' "

Both Hilts and Pringle said they were happy Crawford opened up to them. 

"He figured he would just sort of adapt," Pringle said. "He would just keep trying. He would just keep pushing through and he would adapt and learn to cope and be able to continue to live this sort of life. But eventually it caught up to him and he realized like, 'OK. I can't pretend anymore. I can't keep faking it. I have to change.' "

Luckily, Crawford is doing well and will be returning to the band when they perform two concerts in Regina on Dec. 15 and 16 at the Exchange.

"The amount of support and love that he's been shown and we've been shown so far has just been, it's been overwhelming," Pringle said.

Calling themselves "Best friends, brothers, family," Hilts said they've learned from this experience and hope others will as well.

"You gotta take care of everyone," he said. "You're a team out there. You gotta make sure that everyone is feeling up to par."

Bring live energy to the studio

Known for their rousing, impossible-to-stand-still live performances, the Dead South have just released a new 12-song album called Illusion & Doubt.

Pringle said the energy of their live performances is tough to duplicate on an album, but boy did they try.

"We recorded the first tracks live off the floor," he said. "So we all sat around and we played the songs together live in the studio and then one by one we came in and punched in overdubs of our own individual instruments over top of those live recordings."

But there is still something magical you can't replicate when it comes to a Dead South show, Pringle said.

"It's just impossible to replicate that same sort of environment, you know, when you're standing in front of hundreds of people and there's sweat being tossed all around all over the place and drinks spilling all over the floor."

The band will be heading out to Alberta and B.C. before returning to Saskatchewan.

You can find a full list of their tour dates here.

Illusion & Doubt is available now on iTunes.

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition