The Strumbellas are in the home stretch of a North American tour following the release of their third album, Hope. Although Toronto’s folk-pop group propelled to mainstream notoriety in early 2016 with their catchy anthem “Spirits,” the group has been performing together since 2008.
I caught up with Simon Ward, lead singer for the Strumbellas, in between him getting in some loads of laundry. He commented on how busy this past year has been, saying, “Touring has been the craziest rollercoaster we’ve ever experienced. We’ve gone so many places and met so many people. It’s been a blast.”
What was different about the creative process while making this album compared to your first two?
SIMON: We wrote this album totally different. We didn’t play any of the songs on this record until after the album was done. We wrote it on our computers and in the studio but we didn’t sit in a jam room and play any of the songs in their entirety until afterwards. We basically had to go back in six months later and listen to our own record and relearn the songs. It worked out really well for us so we might try this system out again.
You’ve been touring since March—what has been your favorite song to perform?
SIMON: As cliché as this sounds, “Spirits” has been the most fun to perform. The most people know it, whether we play in Texas or Germany or British Columbia. As a musician you want people to sing along and to know the words. For that reason “Spirits” is a blast.
What does the song “Spirits” mean to you? When you wrote it did you know it was going to be a hit?
SIMON: The whole album is pretty sad, lyrically. I was in a really dark place when we were writing. I was suffering from depression and anxiety. We were on the road for a long time. There was a lot of pain. I wish it had been on better terms but now we’re getting so many letters saying how this record helped people get through tough times so it’s definitely worth it.
How do you balance touring and performing with being a dad and maintaining some sort of normalcy for your kids?
SIMON: You don’t. My life is so crazy. It sounds like I’m complaining and I’m not, but it’s the biggest setback in this job. Next year I have to be home more. This year was insane and everyone is happy about that but I miss my family. My family misses me and I need to be home more next year.
What is a band or artist that fans would be surprised to hear you listen to?
SIMON: Ooh. Good question. We all listen to Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus. Party Rock by LMFAO. The top 40 pop hits were playing on our tour bus the whole time while writing this record.
How do you keep your beard looking so great?
SIMON: Well, if I told you that, I’d be giving away all my secrets. We have an assortment of beard oils. It takes a lot of time. You don’t wake up looking this good.