LOS ANGELES, June 8, 2016 — Belvedere is back! After a 12-year break, Calgary punk band Belvedere has returned with their sixth album, which was released in May on Bird Attack Records. Singer/guitar player Steve Rawles took some time to speak with Wells On Music regarding their new release.
Interview transcribed by Becca Jean
Belvedere has a new album, it’s the first album in 12 years. When were these songs written? Were all these songs written somewhat recently after you reformed or have you guys had some of these kicking around for a while?
Most of them have been written recently. There was one song, “Hairline,” that actually Jay wrote a couple months after we split up in 2005 and then reworked it, I guess, now that we’ve been sort of jamming recently, but yeah, most of the songs have been written in the last year and a half while we’ve been putting this record together.
How does the writing process work for you as a band?
Well, how we used to do it is we would each kind of bring in full songs and now we just kind of bring in riffs. Everybody brings in their own riffs they’ve been working on then we sort of collaborate, as a band, because we’re all in Calgary now. We’re able to jam at least once every week or once every couple weeks and so it’s really great because we kind of had a long time to like flush out these songs and everybody’s had their own parts to contribute to it.
So you guys mixed different riffs for one song?
Yeah for sure. I mean we always start out with a couple riffs and try and put something together for some sort of hook or something that we think might work into a song and then from there, kind of blend it all together and try to give it some structure. Then once we sort of get the music done, I’ve written the lyrics to most of these songs, so we demoed a lot of them and then I was able to throw them on an iPod and just spend a couple of months writing lyrics and [working on] the melodies to it.
What was it like having Casey Lewis on drums?
Oh it’s great. Casey’s been a friend of ours. For me, I’ve known him for almost 20 years. So, I’ve recorded with him [with] This Is a Standoff, my other band. We tracked it at his studio, we’ve brought some of Casey’s band on tour so we know each other really well and Casey has always been one of the best drummers around our area. So for him to be able to take over, it’s been really awesome.
How did you guys end up going with Bird Attack for the release?
Well I’ve been talking with Garrett for quite a long time. Garrett likes to travel around and see a lot of shows and festivals and I think he came to our Toronto reunion show back in 2012, and we’ve been talking through Facebook a bunch and just the more and more we were talking the more he was ready to put some backing behind our release and we really thought that he was the guy for it. He’s just really amped on everything and likes the band and, for me, I think he’s just one of those guys that really drives not just his label, but the scene, in general, with the radio show and everything. He’s just constantly trying to give exposure to new bands and I just think that’s really great. He’s not just cherry picking this and this band, he’s trying to do a service to our scene, in general, which I think is really great.
Did you guys have the album recorded already when you brought it to him?
No, he took a leap of faith that we would put out something that he’d like. We sent him some demos because we demoed most of the record in the year prior to actually recording the real thing. So, once we knew that we were gonna do it, we gave him some demos and he already liked what he heard and he was just really all about like, “Look, I like your band and I trust you guys are gonna do the right thing.” He thought it would be good, so he’s really stoked on it and we’re super happy.
I saw that you guys were doing some touring in Europe and South America but nothing in actual America.
No, we did South America with Lagwagon at the end of February and early March and then we have some dates in Europe. It’s all really quick stuff because we can really only do like three or four days at a time. So we started doing these fly out long weekend kind of things. Just with family and kids and stuff, it’s about all we can do right now, but yeah, we’re gonna be in Europe, we got a show with NOFX and one with Anti Flag, and then we got a festival with Pennywise and Zebrahead. So, lots of cool stuff in the four days that we’re there in Europe and then a bunch of Canada stuff, but as far as America, it’s a little tough right now with getting work permits and making it all work over a three or four day weekend. It’s always a headache getting a work permit for the States, but if we could find a way to hook up with some other bands or maybe get on a good festival or something, we’d definitely love to come down because we used to tour the states all the time.
When was the last time you guys played down here?
Well, Belvedere [in] 2002, but we broke up for a long time, so there’s no surprise there. We were down there with The Suicide Machines, gone all over the west coast and then we did Canada. The last time I actually toured the states was in 2009 or 2010. I was down there with This Is a Standoff. We toured with Strung Out down there.
Is this gonna be a one time record or are you guys back for good? Do you have plans for more records in the future?
Well, it just came out so we’re kinda always thinking what’s in front of us right now, but this was the whole point we knew that we wanted to be a band again and that’s why we went through the trouble of putting this record together and it was awesome to do and I’m sure you’ll see something down the road again from us.
Is there anything else you want people to know about yourself or the band?
Just keep an eye out on our Facebook and I just really appreciate all of the great response that we’ve gotten from the album so far and thanks for listening.