This fall, Marcus Steiner and Rich Jaeger are excited to return home. Though they are steadfast Yukoners now (“You can’t get rid of us,” grins Steiner), Jaeger grew up in The Pas, Manitoba, and Steiner in Kimberley, British Columbia and they will visit both towns while they tour their brand-new album, The PPL II.
Despite their birthplaces, The PPL, named for the blue-collar working man, is all Yukon. For the past two years, Steiner and Jaeger have been developing and cultivating their two-man acoustic rock project, and released their self-titled debut in 2011. Their country-tinged, upbeat brand of rock has been featured around town in bars, jams and the Sunstroke Music Festival.
Recorded with professional equipment in Steiner’s basement, the new album was also completely self-funded, recorded, produced and released, resulting in a product that both musicians are proud of.
“It’s a bit more rock than the first album,” Steiner says. “More where we want to be as a band… it’s our best offering so far.”
He adds that, while their debut release was very acoustic rock-oriented, The PPL II features a little more edge, some guitar distortion on several tracks, and more in-depth songwriting than its predecessor.
“I think we had more time to practice and write these songs,” he says. “We’ve been a bit more focused on songwriting; some songs are actual linear stories, some songs are more just observations and random thoughts like the first album… The opening track, Breathe the Air, is a comment on our environmental footprint… Other songs are commentaries on society as a whole as we get more into the internet and less based in reality.”
He adds that the recording process was also better this time around, as they were able to capture a more complete sound.
In order to keep that full sound on the road, Steiner and Jaeger will be supported by Daniel Vigneau (drummer for their heavier project The Mourning After) on rhythm guitar and mandolin, as well as Ian MacIntyre of The Midnight Sons on bass. The rest of The Midnight Sons, featuring Alex Johnson on guitar and vocals, and Patrick Doherty on drums, will also be accompanying The PPL on tour as a supporting act. The two groups will be leaving Whitehorse on Sept. 27, heading down through Jasper, playing shows throughout Cranbrook, Kimberley and Calgary, and on to Saskatchewan and Manitoba, over the course of three weeks.
Although he is an experienced touring musician, Steiner is nevertheless excited to be hitting the road for his first tour with The PPL.
“We get to hit all of our hometowns, places where we used to live,” he says. “We just basically hope to raise a bit of awareness about our band, and get some experience [playing live].”
Steiner feels it’s important for Yukon bands to get outside their home base for a while, for experience and to spread the word.
“I think it’s a good reality check for indie bands out get out of the Whitehorse bubble,” he says.
As for their (equally) triumphant return to the Yukon, The PPL have a CD release party planned to close the tour, the date and location of which is yet to be determined.
Their album The PPL II can be found for free at Unitech, Epic Pizza, Triple Js, Dean’s Strings. It is also available online at www.ReverbNation.com/ThePPL. For a full list of tour dates and photos, check out their Facebook page.
Willow Gamberg is a former What’s Up Yukon intern who writes about music and other arts-related topics.