The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry – but sometimes, that’s a blessing in disguise.
In mid-2015, genre-bending groove rock outfit Solhounds had built some hype, had an album’s worth of material ready to record, and studio time booked. That’s about the same time that their lead singer and guitarist announced his departure from the band. A few mended bridges and months of introspective contemplation later, though, and Ian Clements was dead set on pushing forward.
Clements, a drummer, and his brother started Solhounds in 2014. “Our focus was to play rock music,” he begins, “but mix in other styles we liked – reggae, funk, soul, prog, metal, hardcore, jazz…” Impressively, tinges of those styles and more emerge in the material that he and his bandmates – bassist Morgan Davis, guitarist Andrew Bontey, and newly enlisted vocalist and keyboardist Elise Roller – have written since cementing their current lineup in early 2016. While sonically similar to earlier iterations of Solhounds, as Clements asserts, “These songs capture exactly what I’ve always envisioned for this band.” But that vision isn’t just his. When it comes to songwriting, the Winnipeg-based foursome is adamant about keeping a collective and collaborative focus at its core – and that idea was only strengthened when Roller joined their ranks. She boasts an impressive pedigree, fronting Calgary blues rock band Go For The Eyes in addition to now anchoring Solhounds.
“We knew within the first five minutes of playing with her that we’d found our missing link,” Clements says. “We couldn’t be more aligned with how to approach our songwriting and the sound of Solhounds.” That sound is one rooted in groovy, riff-based rock that reaches back to the best of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s and melds it into an innovative and modern sonic collage. Tracks like “I Want My 20s Back” showcase the overdriven southern-fried riffage and thunderous rhythms that epitomize the Solhounds sound while ‘90s-rooted cuts like “Runaway” embody the hooky, slow-burning melancholy of everyone’s favourite decade. From track to track, stereo or stage, it’s hard to keep your body from swaying to Solhounds’ swagger-soaked rock and roll.
“The music we’re making, at the end of the day, I want it to stick in people’s heads,” Clements says. “I want them leaving a show and singing these songs and riffs even after hearing them for the first time.” Considering their high-energy and tightly honed live show, that won’t be hard. After all, none of the original three members of Solhounds or their recently transplanted frontwoman are strangers to the stage, and that informs their collective focus to ensure each and every song has the power to drive a dancefloor.
What’s more, Roller’s anthemic and empowering lyrics lend themselves well to fist-pumping singalongs. “I’ve been expanding a lot of my writing to more political and social issues,” she shares – “especially those that women face nowadays like being single mothers – which I am – abortion, fighting in a man’s world, and trying to highlight that what we live through should be celebrated and seen as badass, not as a stigma.” It’s a positive message, and fittingly, one she perfectly embodies when taking the mic to command a crowd.
The band is more than eager to hit the road and festival stages, quickly amassing a collection of songs for an upcoming debut LP – one that will eclipse what should have been their first a year ago. With their sights firmly set forward and anchored by a powerful new voice, Solhounds are driven, determined, and ready for their (dog) days in the sun.