Arkells are a five piece Canadian rock band, formed in Hamilton, Ontario in 2006 and were fortunate enough to have been invited by Frank Turner to support him and The Sleeping Souls on the UK/Irish leg of their Be More Kind world tour. We arranged to chat to frontman Max Kernam ahead of the Exeter show, read on to see how we got on....
Hey Max, tonight is the 10th show with Frank on his Be More Kind UK/Ireland tour, what have been the highlights so far for you?
There have been lots of places we’ve never visited before so it’s been great fun discovering, Dublin was great, in Belfast we took a tour and learned a lot about the place. As for the shows, they’ve all been consistently good, being the second support act, you get to see what works best and try out new ideas. We toured with Frank in North America and Canada and we know his fan base pretty well, when we were invited to come and open for him in the UK we jumped at the opportunity as never have I met anyone who has such an ideal fan base for us as well. Musically we’re very similar, I feel that we share a common spirit that comes across in our live shows. I guess we also come from the same place in respect of song-writing, we’re into political folk music that Frank really enjoys, we all love the same kind of stuff, it’s such a natural fit.
I guess that makes it a lot easier if you already know each other when you embark on a tour?
Yeah, we’re all friends, we had a couple of shows in America the last time we played and our bass player Nick couldn’t make the dates so Tarrant (Anderson – Bass player from The Sleeping Souls) filled in for him which was so good of him!
That’s amazing, so nice that he was able to step up and help out!
So you're halfway through the tour, who have been the best audience so far?
The Sheffield show was amazing, it was unexpected, we've never been there before, it was a Tuesday night so not a rowdy weekend show, it was just a perfect crowd, just before our last song, the crowd started chanting something to us, it sounded like they were saying “You’re Shit” and this really confused us as we were getting such a warm reception from the room and there they were telling us that we’re shit?! It wasn’t until we got off the stage that a local told us they were chanting “Yorkshire” at us….
I guess if they were shouting “You’re Shit” and were throwing bottles of urine and rotten vegetables at you, you would have got the message!
What about the remainder of the tour? Any other places that you’re excited about?
We’re in Exeter tonight, I’ve had a good walk around the University grounds and it looks great, the London show’s going to be great. As a Canadian band who cut their teeth touring across Western Canada, you’re kinda used to 8-9 hour drives between cities, here in the UK, you ‘re on the road for like 3-4 hours maximum and that’s amazing! We’re off to Cambridge and Oxford, really looking forward to those!
You’re a prolific touring band….the question is, do you tour MORE than Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls?
NO! I don’t think anyone does! That’s another reason why I love Frank, he’s really inspiring, nobody I know just picks stuff up and gets to work on things like Frank does, if you feel like you need some inspiration, you just have to take a look at the blog on his website and see some of the stuff that he’s getting up to every day and it really makes you think how hard he does work!
The man doesn’t have an ‘off’ switch! In-store gigs, record signings, it’s as if he can’t sit still!
Yep, he's a machine!
If you weren't in the band, what job would you be doing?
We've been lucky as this has been our full time job for the last 8 years, I really enjoy group work, there’s something special about putting together a song or a tour, everyone brings something to the group and collectively you can pull off way more than you can on your own so I definitely think that I’d want to be part of a creative team, some sort of media production team or something that involves creative input!
It'll soon be Summer, what festivals have you got lined up?
We’re doing a bunch in Canada, a few in the States, we’re in between records at the moment so I think we’re looking at a slightly quieter Summer, we’re looking forward to a new thing in Hamilton, Canada, it’s an evening event called 'The Rally' and we have Cold War Kids and Bishop Briggs on the bill and this is has got to be the biggest things we’ve ever done, we’ve already sold 20,000 tickets so it’s gonna be pretty big! That’s gonna be really exciting!
Is that something that you’re curating?
Yep, it’s something that we’re behind and we’re really amazed how it has taken off!
20,000 people? That would be classed as a medium to large scale festival here in the UK! What is the equivalent to Glastonbury Festival in Canada?
We have large festivals come and go, there was one that was pretty big called 'Way Home' but they’re not doing it this year (like Glastonbury, they’re taking a break!), we wanted to think of something ourselves that we could just take on the road and we really like Frank's ‘Lost Evenings’ model, inviting guests every night is a great idea and then you have more control over what happens during the day, pop up shops and after show parties and the like, it’s all good fun
You mentioned earlier that you’re currently working on a new album?
Yeah, there's no date yet set for the release but I think we’re looking in the Fall (That's Autumn for any UK readers). We have a little more recording to do but we’re in a good place at the moment. We recently released a new single “People’s Champ” and it was fun watching people get on board and even more fun being out and playing it live!
Tours are fun things, what’s the funniest thing that’s happened so far?
The Yorkshire thing was pretty funny (You're Shot!) We’ve made good friends with Derek (aka The Homeless Gospel Choir) who opens the show and he’s a really interesting character and we learned one of his songs and he plays it as his last song and after he starts, we join him on stage and then we just launch straight into our set! We’ve never done it before and this is a great way to save a little time having to move the stage around and keeps the crowd on the boil!
We thought we'd put Max on the spot and ask him some 'Quickfire' questions, here's how he got on....
Camping or Glamping? - Glamping!
Acoustic or Electric? - Electric
The Beatles or The Stones? - The Beatles
Car or Motorcycle? - Car
Whiskey or Beer? - I'm into Whiskey at the moment
Piercings or Tattoos? - Um, neither really as I'm a bit of a Mommy;s boy! I'll go with tattoos!
Beards or no beards? - No beards (for me personally!)
Cats or Dogs? - Dogs
Hotel or Tour Bus? - Tour Bus
God or Google? - I'll say Google.....they’re sort of the same thing aren’t they?
We'd like to thank Max for sparing the time to chat to us when he should have been chilling out before the show, we'd like to wish him every success for the remaining dates on the tour and for 'The Rally' event in Canada!
Keep up to date with the band at their WEBSITE