Coldest Night’s EP caps the songwriting season

by Gregory Beatty

Coldest Night Of The Year - photo by Chris Graham

Coldest Night Of The YearThe Exchange

Friday 5

Canadian music fans (of a certain vintage, anyway) will recognize the name of this Regina pop-rock band fronted by Chris Matchett.

And yes, the homage to Bruce Cockburn’s 1981 hit about love and alienation in Toronto is deliberate.

“‘Coldest Night of the Year’ is my favourite Bruce Cockburn song,” says Matchett. “It’s got a bunch of Canadiana in it that for me speaks about where we’re from and how that separates us from other people. With eight months of winter you can get a lot of songwriting done.”

Matchett and bandmates Carl Johnson (guitar, vocals), Jon Wolfond (bass) and Garret Matheis (drums) are a case in point. As Regina slowly emerges from what has been a hellacious winter, the band — which was formed last fall — will release its self-titled debut EP at the Exchange April 5.

The group has only played a handful of live shows, but they’d rehearsed a lot before they walked into the studio.

“It was probably the most rehearsed band I’ve ever been a part of,” says Johnson, who’s also in Library Voices. “The studio magic happened through Luc’s production, but from our end we had our shit down.”

Luc is Luc Hart of the heavy metal band Agonal.

“We wanted to get the ball rolling pretty quick, and Luc really wanted to do it,” Johnson says. “He was passionate about working with us and he seemed like the right person. And it turned out to be a good choice.”

“The drums and bass were done live off the floor at Blue Door, that new place on Broad Street,” says Matchett. “Then we did the vocals at Touchwood Studios.”

Guitar tracks were laid down at a space called the Swamp that Hart’s dad owns. And, wonder of wonders, he just happened to have a ’57 Fender Stratocaster lying around.

“So that’s on the album a lot,” says Matchett.

Name aside, there are also thematic links between Cockburn’s song and the band’s self-titled EP.

“The songs are mostly relationship based,” says Matchett. “Not necessarily my own life, but where I work [as a bouncer at O’Hanlon’s Pub] I have an opportunity to be intimately acquainted with other people’s interpersonal relationships.

“It’s what I know, dealing with people’s problems there. But I think there’s a message of hope in all the songs. They might be railing against each other, but they’re not just calling it quits and walking away. They always come back together at the end.”

EP closer “Shit Talker” was written by Johnson. It’s got a more aggressive edge.

“I finally wrote a dis song,” he says. “I’ve been trying to write one for years. I’d just got out of a relationship, and was having problems with other relationships in my life. But as much finger-pointing as I do at other people in the song, I think I point a finger at myself as much.”

With an EP under their belts, says Matchett, tour plans are in the works.

“The next thing that’s for sure is the Gateway Festival in July. Although I’m sure we’ll be doing stuff between now and then — at least we hope to, because as far as playing together live, we’re still pretty new.”