Wintersleep has soft spot for genre

Wintersleep play a sold-out show at the Commodore on Feb. 16 with Vancouver band Ladyhawk.


Some folks might bristle at being called prog rockers, but not Wintersleep.

When the subject is brought up with drummer Loel Campbell, he just laughs and admits the band has a soft spot for the genre.

“Prog rock — yes, our background certainly rooted in that,” he said. “We’re not really technical, but are interested in alternative song structures … I don’t think we’re like this incredibly cheesy prog rock band … but I think we go to a place a lot of prog rock bands do.”

Though they avoid 20-minute tracks and ‘Stonehenge’ sets, the group’s songwriting touches on prog, as do fantastic lyrics about characters like archaeologists who find skeletons of winged boys in whale bellies. Given the band’s Halifax home, the epic lyrics makes sense — after all, these guys are from a province where any road trip involves a treacherous drive.

“We’re usually out East, and to get anywhere you need to drive a ridiculous amount of time,” said Campbell. “We’ve been staying in Montreal lately, but we’re still Halifax-based … It’s easier to stay in Montreal than risk a 14-hour drive in storm season.”

Given the geographic challenges, Campbell said the Halifax scene is a tight-knit bunch, with most of Wintersleep playing in other bands, including Contrived and Holy F*ck. Growing up in a region once touted as the next Seattle, the crew also shares an enthusiasm for the ’90s. Bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam (Wintersleep singer Paul Murphy has been compared to Eddie Vedder) made a big impression.

“We all grew up in small towns in Nova Scotia, and the amount of music available was really selective,” said Campbell. “[I remember when] I was young, probably grade 9, I was into alternative music. I wasn’t conscious of it, but I think it did rub off in different ways. When we all starting pickup up guitars and things…the first song everyone learned was probably a Nirvana song.”

Rob McMahon is a freelance writer. A graduate of UBC’s Journalism program, he contributes to Metro and other publications. Top music memories include a road trip to Coachella and catching Lollapalooza ‘95.

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