At the end of a hard year of touring in support of their second album ‘Big Eye Little Eye’, which took them by way of Britain and Germany, straight across the USA sharing stages with Canadian luminaries like Feist and Sloan, those who witnessed its fury likely had no inkling it was the end of a chapter for the band. The long awaited homecoming was bittersweet; there were big changes on the horizon. For starters, the band had been released from their record contract; a contract they had been locked into for years that now left them 100% in control of their business affairs. In another twist of fate, their long time bass player, Stew Heyduk, decided to leave the country and get married in Hawaii. Within weeks of being at home and somewhat directionless, the question began looming: “What now?” While there are always songs brewing on lead man Dave Azzolini’s hot plate, the idea of going straight into recording another album wasn’t an attractive one. They needed a break from being Golden Dogs.
Without trying to force movement into the intimidating ‘next album’ phase, the couple began spending more time hanging at a little garage studio on Toronto’s east side, operated by their good friends Carlin Nicholson & Mike O’Brien - this duo now known as Zeus. The whole crew had a lot of fun just writing and recording tunes they had written and while Nicholson honed his engineering chops, everyone nurtured and developed their production skills. As well, the studio was a very welcome place for other musician friends to pop by. Friends like Neil Quin (ex-Golden Dog/future Zeus member) and Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) who ended up playing a solo on the Golden Dogs album as a return favor for Azzolini playing piano on one of the Bahamas tracks he recorded there.
The spirit was described by Azzolini: “It was very much a ‘best idea wins’ situation and the songwriter always had final veto power. It made for a very comfortable environment to make music. It was just musicians getting together to bounce ideas off each other.” This was a great time to forget about being in a band, and to just get back to playing music for it’s own sake, with a group of friends riding the same wave and just soaking in the energy of the studio. The result is titled Coat of Arms, and it brilliantly displays the musical union Azzolini, Grassia, Knox and company have found with each other, and the band seems to be more confident and commanding than ever before. One marvels at the way they can seem playful and sweet on a track like LESTER, yet terrifyingly savage on BURST or DARKROOM.
The most obvious and wonderful difference this time around is that Ms. Grassia takes a giant leap forward and can be heard taking the lead on almost half the album with a range spanning from sweet & psychedelic (UNDERWATER GOLDMINE) to seductive (AS LONG AS YOU LIKE) to furious pop madness on songs like WHEN THE MOVIE’S OVER, and CHEAP UMBRELLAS. Her vocal performances while drumming (AS LONG AS YOU LIKE and LESTER) is quickly becoming a Golden Dogs secret weapon and quite an impressive element to their live shows.
What now? Coat of Arms will be released on Dine Alone April 26th 2011. Feeling up-beat and optimistic about the new direction, Azzolini boasts that “the versatility of this new line up opens up a whole new world of possibilities for Golden Dogs live shows and the future of our recordings…there are so many directions we can go…and we’re going to try all of them.”
Golden Dogs tour dates:
Mar 17: SXSW @ Hole in the wall (day party)\
Mar 19: SXSW @ Paradise on 6th
Mar 22: Portland @ Wonder Ballroom**
Mar 23: Seattle @ Showbox**
Mar 24: Vancouver @ Biltmore**
Mar 26: Missoula, MT @ Wilma Theatre**
Mar 27: Jackson, WY @ Q Roadhouse**
Mar 29: Ames, IA @ The Maintenance Shop**
Mar 30: Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room**
Mar 31: Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theatre **
Apr 1: Madison, WI @ The Majestic**
Apr 2: Chicago, IL @ The Vic**
Apr 3: Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls**
** w/ State Radio