We’ve all heard that old axiom relating to the blessed moment when everything comes together perfectly, creating a sense of cohesion or success. It’s usually referred to as how the third time is a charm.
Such isn’t always the case though. In regards to Mississauga-based ska /punk quartet IllScarlett, it took a little bit longer than a tertiary kick at the can to find that sweet spot where intent meets ability. While never at a complete loss or hampered by lack of aptitude, the band feels that over the past eight years and three albums, they’ve had to continually hone their craft until finally realizing maximum potential with fourth full-length 1Up (Sony Music) released earlier this week.
“This album is really a point of pride,” beams vocalist and guitarist Alex Norman moments after jetting back in the midst of a U.S. tour to perform for a packed hometown crowd on 1Up’s official street date. “While we still love our other albums, this one really has our fingerprints all over it.”
Keen to utilize another adage, Norman refers to 1Up as IllScarlett’s “baby,” a comment not altogether unheard of from any artist releasing their blood, sweat and tears unto the world for whatever praise and/or criticism it generates.
Yet he quickly notes the band — completed by guitarist Will Marr, drummer Swavek Piorkowski and bassist John Doherty — is still very pleased with their past releases. 2007’s All Day With It did reach Gold sales status in Canada. It’s just that never before have they taken proper pains to maximize creativity and complete an album unhindered.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to represent who we truly are on our own terms,” Norman continues. “We took a full three months off to write and record this one. I’d say we actually got to create it, where our other records were made in the middle of playing, touring and whatever. Because we were so interactive (1Up), it was a lot of fun and I think that reflects on how it comes across.”
At that, Norman is quite direct about exactly how he expects listeners to perceive the band’s inherent mix of ska’s upbeat, pleasant atmosphere with the expediency of punk rock’s pacing on 1Up. He goes so far as to offer some insight on why the album’s 12 tracks have a decidedly sharper feel this time around, something he anticipates will direct listeners’ immediate comfort with it.
“It’s raw,” he declares with finality. “It’s live. Some songs aren’t perfect. There might be a moment where the tuning or the timing is off. That’s because we didn’t want to lose that human element; that feel. We didn’t drive for perfection or stew on it because music is meant to be fun. We weren’t so uptight about it. We had fun; were more comfortable instead of putting everything under a microscope. I think albums are more enjoyable when they’re natural.”