Calgary's Sunglaciers tour the U.S. with healthy attitude and new album

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It does not sound like your typical raunchy rock tour.

By now, Calgary’s Sunglaciers are veterans of the road and have taken many trips south of the border. On this particular day, singer-guitarist Evan Resnik and multi-instrumentalist Mathieu Blanchard are chatting with Postmedia about their third album, Regular Nature, and touring as a trio alongside bassist Kyle Crough. Guitarist/keyboardist Nyssa Brown had to sit out this leg because she is working on her master’s degree. So it may be “a boys’ trip,” as Resnik puts it, but they still seem to have opted for an on-the-road lifestyle that avoids the debauchery of a touring band.

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“There’s not much alcohol, honestly, anymore,” reports Blanchard from a hotel room in Columbia, Mo. during a rare day off from shows. “Kyle is at the rock-climbing gym right now and I went for a run today. Evan went to the hotel gym. We have bananas and berries on the hotel deck here.”

“It’s the Health Tour 2024,” adds Resnik. “I just bought some whey protein powder for the second time on the tour already. We’re getting smoothies every morning.”

The Sunglaciers still take that old-school, fiercely DYI approach to touring that involves making repeat visits to American cities and watching attendance slowly crawl up in numbers, even if there are only a few new devotees at every visit. But that’s as far as the punk-rock aesthetic goes.

“We’ve done that, and it doesn’t work,” Blanchard says about hard-living tours.

“It’s hard when you have an eight-and-a-half hour drive the next day and you’re hungover,” Resnik says. “If you’re hungover, you’ll be short-tempered with each other. There’s going to be tension. There’s going to be fatigue on the highway. We’ve had friends get into accidents on the road. We just want to make sure we do the tour right and get through it; learn from the greats who have written books about it but maybe don’t exactly follow in their footsteps.”

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Released earlier this year, Regular Nature is hardly an old-school punk album. But Sunglaciers are able to maintain a credible punk energy while exploring subgenres. As with their 2022 sophomore outing, Subterranea, the new album is steadfastly song-focused even as the band veers from the frenzied Pere Ubu-inspired dance-rock of opener Fakes to the silky synth-rock of Right Time, to raging post-punk garage-rockers such as Kafka and I Remember the Days.

The band co-produced the album with Calgary studio-whiz and inventive singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen and it features guest spots by Zoon’s Daniel Monkman and Cassia Hardy of Wares. Sunglaciers had a formidable stockpile of songs to choose from, including many written before recording Subterranea when the pandemic offered a silver-lining abundance of time to concentrate on songcraft.

“We shelved them for a couple of years,” Blanchard says. “We basically had the idea of going a bit more minimal than the last record, maybe even a lot more minimal at first. Then we just started adding stuff. We got Chad in there. Last time around, it was the pandemic, so we only worked with him over the Internet and calls. This time, we were able to go to his studio, not to record, but for him to add extra layers and also give us an idea of what else we could do. Once that happened, we just layered the songs really thick and had a great time doing a lot of production work on it. It’s probably more varied than last time: more rock songs, more downtempo chillers and then some Devo, Gang of Four-like punk songs.”

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“I feel like it’s a little lighter on its feet, it’s a little breezier,” Resnik adds. “It’s still really heavy and intense but there is something about the way you move through it when listening, it’s got a flow. There’s a bit more joy, a bit more connectable emotions.”

Stateside tours are tough for any band, but even more tricky when members have other commitments. That not only includes Brown’s academic pursuits but Blanchard’s job as a busy family physician in Calgary. Still, Sunglaciers have made touring the U.S. a priority.

This is their fourth time in the States. Their first tour was in 2022 and was a bit of a hard slog. This tour began with a hometown show in early March before eventually hitting more than a dozen cities including Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Kansas City, Asbury Park and New York City. Not every show has been packed, but the band has noticed not only an uptick in attendance in most cities but also more appreciation and familiarity with the music.

Nearly 100 people showed up in Denver, there was a bigger crowd in San Diego. But even when shows aren’t well-attended, such as a recent concert in Kansas City, the enthusiasm can be palpable.

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“We were only able to find one other band to play with us and they ended up being a solo act,” Blanchard says about the Kansas City stop. “He started playing and we were the only ones there. As we went on, four people showed up but it really felt like 30 people showed up. It’s such a huge difference to play for one person versus four. It’s hard to translate how much it feels better but it really does and I even told those guys you dance more than some nights when we have 40 people. They were super into it. They were yelling between all the songs. Everybody there bought something.”

Regular Nature is now available. Sunglaciers will play the Idle Eyes Collective on May 23 with Bad Buddy.

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