Jack Garton stood in a cemetery on Galiano Island, talking on his cell phone about his latest record. It seems like a weird place to field media requests, until you consider that Garton’s day job, as cemetery sexton, seems to have influenced the album in a way.
“I think a lot about how fragile our lives are and how temporary things are. When I write a song, mostly I think about what my kids and my grandkids are going to want to know about me after I’m gone,” he said of Love You Over Time, his second album. “So always about my failures and successes in love and commitment and stuff like that.”
Garton is touring the record around the west coast of the U.S. and Canada this spring, with a stop in Whitehorse, at The Local Bar, on April 12. He’s played in the Yukon previously and made friends with local musician Ryan McNally, which is who connected him with the venue and with Garton’s opener, Paris Pick and the Pricks.
“I’m psyched to come up. It’s been a favourite place for me for touring. I love it,” he said. “We’re just really grateful to the community up there that seems to have jumped on this show.”
“We” is Garton’s band, The Demon Squadron. Together, they play a brand of Louisiana Zydeco-inspired music that Garton calls a mix of rock and roll, R&B, Cajun flavour, and something else that’s not really country or blues, but also, is both at the same time. Almost the only thing the music wasn’t, for a long time, was guitar-based.
“I used to be almost militant about not having guitars because we were accordion-based and we had to be different,” he said. “But when we started playing with Joel (Fernandes) because he’s a friend, it just sounded too good and I thought it was too good not to do it.”
“We kind of really gelled. I don’t know what it is. The short answer is this magic combination of people, and once we get rocking, (the music) is just more high-energy than it was before.”
So much so that Garton held back some of the songs slated for Love You Over Time because they were recorded pre-Fernandes. Those will appear, in a different form, on a new record, which Garton has already written with this new dance-y, higher-energy sound in mind. Where the music remains the same is in the lyrics. He said his songs always end up kind of being about the same stuff. His first record explored commitment and the idea of being recently married. The new one is basically the same, with a more nuanced view. The third is similar.
“What I write about is, in a word, commitment, to yourself and the people and things you love. I found that when I was writing the first record, I had this sort of heroic idea of I was going to really get down to it and finally commit to the things that I love and then the second album was kind of … I realized that the things you love, you can’t help but commit to them. It’s not even an act of will in the same way that I thought it was. It’s like you just turn around one day and you realize you just keep doing it.”
Jack Garton and the Demon Squadron play The Local Bar on April 12. Visit JackGarton.com for more information.