What's in a name?
When Bright Righteous first united in 2008 to rock Winnipeg's underground party scene, their name embodied their music – an energizing fusion of past and present, digital and analog. But now, in 2015, that name represents a lot more.
The five-piece – vocalist Kevin Hogg, Jay Jensen on bass and synths, drummer Scott Beattie, and guitarists Troy Taylor and Andrew Titley – is set to make an impactful statement with the release of their debut full-length in 2016. The songs comprising it will be the first formal taste of new tunes from Bright Righteous in nearly three years, and more significantly, the first since the untimely passing of drummer and founding member Alex Danyliuk.
"We went into the studio at a very emotional time," says Jensen about the effort. "Things got a lot more serious around then, and that's definitely reflected in the music. Everything's a bit darker, a bit heavier, a bit more emotional." But the sonic shift from lively, lighthearted party bangers to a more focused, forthright rock sound isn't the only transition born of the tragic circumstances.
Far more significantly, the band came away from the experience more dedicated, more assured that Bright Righteous needed to carry on – and carry the spirit of a fallen friend with them. "It really brought us together as a band," says Hogg, "and put a lot of things into perspective." Now, the name means more than ever. It's the moniker that embodies their newfound musical manifesto.
"Right now," Hogg affirms, "Bright Righteous is the four of us. This is what we do, and this our sound." "But the band never would have gotten here without Alex," Beattie tacks on.
The consistent lyrical theme throughout the effort is one of growth and realizing potential, of keeping optimistic throughout turmoil and maintaining perspective. While they touch on topics like substance abuse and, understandably, mortality, the ultimate attitude isn't bleak or sombre instead, it's uplifting and encouraging.
So despite the circumstances surrounding its assembly, the album is certainly dynamic, with lighter pop songs cohesively interwoven with the edgier, weightier ones. The album was made with Montreal producer Mike Nash, whose diverse resume includes work with everyone from The Stills and the Dears to Voivod and Ladies of the Canyon.
What it showcases is the newest iteration of Bright Righteous' unique sonic hybridity, blending bits of electro, new wave, and even some world flavours with a foundation anchored in powerful alt rock. Their fusion of electronic and organic sounds is more seamless, and the songwriting more sophisticated. It's the same band that packed sweaty partygoers into sold-out Winnipeg clubs years prior, only sharper, sleeker, and ultimately, superior.
And rest assured, Bright Righteous still knows how to command a crowd. "The shows are definitely more dynamic than they've ever been," Clefstad says. "We still have the energetic and upbeat party songs, but we want to deliver a more complete, more epic experience." And judging by the reception they've earned supporting the likes of The Sheepdogs and Nazareth and the attention they've garnered at events like JUNO Fest, NXNE, CMW, Mile of Music, and Pennsylvania's Musikfest, "epic" isn't overreaching.
So what's in a name? With a bond stronger than ever and a devout determination, this is a band poised to push forward. Reinvigorated and revitalized, Bright Righteous have undergone exactly what their name represents.