Following the recent release of their latest album, Toronto-based five-piece The Sarandons are back with a new single, “Say When” – a nostalgic indie anthem. We caught up with the band to chat about the new song, the artists they’ve been listening to lately, and what each member would put on their backstage riders.
From The Strait: Tell us about the new single, “Say When”.
The Sarandons: With “Say When” we tried to underscore the power of resignation and embrace the relief that comes with acceptance. The song starts with a paired back intimate verse until a booming snare ignites a modern heartland rocker, hitched to soaring guitars and intent on hurtling towards defiant optimism and triumph in the face of pain.
For “Say When” we drew inspiration from Dylan’s ‘80s catalogue and records like 1983’s Infidels, where folk melodies meet then-modern production all with Mark Knopfler at the controls and on guitar. In terms of production the drum sound is ripped straight from the pages of the fictional Corpus Christi Tribune in the Dylan/Sam Shepard 1986 classic “Brownsville Girl.” The imperative, “Say when / Enough is enough” is something you can hear the neighbourhood bully uttering as they tighten their grip on a headlock.
While “Say When” holds a connection to nuanced roots music, with this track we went further down the road of anthemic toe-tapping grooves and built on our past songs like “Outrunning” and “Letting On”. “Say When” is a place where careful deliberation and complacency go to die; despite Cummings’ best efforts to lift spirits with bouncy keys, lessons are finally learned – as fate would have it – baked in years upon years of doubt and entropy. The end result amounts to a song that capitalizes on melancholia and the strengths of nostalgia, all the while paving a road towards the ebullience found in that light at the end of the tunnel.
From The Strait: What first made you want to be a musician? Was it a song, an artist, or just an undeniable pull to make music?
The Sarandons: Everyone in The Sarandons has a different back story, but for me I found music at an early age. I was around 10 years old when my parents bought me a red Yamaha keytar. A week later, recorded on a little cassette deck, I’d recorded my first song. Pretty soon I’d figured out that with my boom box I could add more layers of guitars by playing recordings back then recording on another tape in the cassette recorder. The interest for me was always producing something new and recording it in a cool way – not much practicing scales or cover tunes. As a result, I’m definitely not the person you want at the campfire sing along and by far the least proficient musician in the group.
From The Strait: What bands and artists have you been listening to most lately? And are there any under-the-radar acts that our readers should know about?
The Sarandons: Maybe not quite under the radar, but I’ve been listening to a lot of The Beatles lately. Specifically, side 2 of Abbey Road with that amazing medley. One of our two covers is “You Never Give Me Your Money”, the other being Sharon Van Etten’s “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”, which we released back in June of this year. These days I’ve also been going back to some of The Band’s live albums and listening to a bunch of The Kinks. More modern stuff like the most recent records by Spoon, The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile are on heavy rotation. Also digging Courtney Barnett. Maybe something a little more under-the-radar is “Live Again” by Jane’s Party – great stuff – as well as the band Half Moon Run.
From The Strait: What was the coolest (and/or weirdest) live show you’ve ever played?
The Sarandons: Some of the outdoor stuff in and around the pandemic stands out for sheer weirdness. Coolest show has to be the (somewhat) unplugged show we did at the El Mo for Unplugged North with Sarah Burke. The room sounds absolutely amazing. Also love the annual outdoor show we play in Toronto’s west end Junction area. It’s grown from a street party to full day concert event. This marks our 4th year and we’re playing alongside Kiwi Jr.
From The Strait: Let’s jump to the future when you’re selling out major stadiums, worldwide – what will you put on your rider?
The Sarandons: Wait! There’s stadiums in the future? I’ll suspend disbelief and play along – craft beer for Phil, tequila for Craig, cider for Ed, Guinness for Damian, old style pilsner for me. A nice bottle of whiskey as well.
Check out “Say When”, the latest single from The Sarandons!