There are few bands with a stage quite like Red Moon Road. The band, consisting of Sheena Rattai, Daniel Jordan and Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner take to the stage with a wide range of instruments, with an estimated 45 different strings – including a banjo, a mandolin, double-necked lap steel, a guitar where the bottom two strings are the bass. Rattai and Jordan split the drums between them.
“It’s a pretty big sound and it’s got a lot of variety, a lot of harmonies, and a big part of our show that people tend to comment on and I think sets us apart is that storytelling is a big part of what we do, both in the songs and between the songs. There’s definitely a through thread of storytelling that each of us share. These stories have informed a lot of the songs,” Jordan said, talking to Yorkton This Week from the road.
History is a big part of their storytelling inspiration, whether it’s history of their own families, or history of the world – a song on their most recent album is a tribute to Sophie Blanchard, a balloonist who was the first woman to be killed in an aviation accident in 1819.
“A lot of stories are close to us and literally related. Others you are driving along and you hear about Sophie Blanchard on the radio or something like that, and the stories find you. It’s amazing that when you tell stories people share them with you. Stories kind of beget stories.”
Describing his bandmate Péloquin-Hopfner as an “insatiable Kijiji king,” the band’s trademark wide variety of instruments comes from his collector’s instinct, and Jordan jokes, the fact that he’s easily bored. Each new instrument comes with a new sound, that gives the band a new direction to go in when writing songs. That said, there are disadvantages when you have to tour with so many instruments.
“We haven’t seen anything behind us for about three weeks now,” Jordan admits.
The last album released by the band was back in 2015 with the album Sorrows and Glories, and the band is getting ready for their next album.
That album will feature more songs written by the only non-Daniel in the group, as Rattai has taken a leading role in the new material.
“She’ll be first to joke that the new stuff has less to do with our grandparents and more to do with her feelings. But that’s kind of underselling it... It’s a new thing for us to move into telling our own stories and talking about our own experiences in the present, and people seem to relate to it just as much, so that’s an exciting, newer twist while still maintaining that type of stories in the songs that we are known for,” said Jordan.
The tour will see the band road testing those songs. While with the last album they ‘went wild’ with the options the studio had to offer and had to learn how to play on the road, with the new one they are starting on the live versions.
“We have definitely maxed out on what three people can do, but it’s nice to have some limitations. Because live, you are limited to what you can do with our combined 12 limbs and three vocal cords, but in the studio you can go crazy. That can be really fun. I think the difference is that you have constraints put on you live, but from the greatest confines comes the greatest creativity. The new stuff that we are road testing on this tour, I think it’s our best stuff yet, and I’m always really excited when it comes to that part in the night to pull those out.”
The album is expected sometime this year, with many of the songs recorded. The goal right now is to get it right, said Jordan.
“It’s so important to roll that out in a thoughtful, intentional manner... There’s also the challenge that every new thing we write tends to be better than the last one, so when do you close the door on that one?”
Some bands may be intimidated by a winter tour in Saskatchewan, but Red Moon Road is from Winnipeg, so the winter weather doesn’t intimidate them. Estimating close to a million kilometers on the road in their career, they enjoy hitting every town they arrive in, and believe every place they go is a great place to play.
“People everywhere appreciate the arts, and Saskatchewan is really lucky to have something like OSAC, the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils, to bring them to smaller communities. People appreciate that, and we appreciate them having us, and taking a chance on something new.”
Red Moon Road will be in Yorkton at the Anne Portnuff Theatre on Mar. 22 as part of the Yorkton Arts Council’s Stars for Saskatchewan Series.