If you’re new to indie rock it’s likely that you haven’t heard of Gentleman Reg. That’s not because the Toronto-based singer-songwriter isn’t any good, it’s just taken him five years to release a new album.
“There are so many reasons," says Reg Vermue, about why he hasn’t put out a new disc since 2004’s Darby & Joan. “A main one was the dissolving of my old record label, Three Gut Records. That was a biggie.”
Just because his label disbanded, didn’t mean Vermue threw in the towel. He was forced to work the disc himself for more than a year, and when he finally sat down to record a record more problems arose.
“The actual process of making the album didn’t take that long,” he says. “Like everything else, it was the business. There were band lineup changes and I went through three managers.”
Luckily, Vermue — whose specialty is delicate indie pop — not only created the best album of his career with Jet Black, but he landed on Arts & Crafts, the venerable Toronto-based label that’s home to Feist and Broken Social Scene.
“Arts& Crafts and I have always flirted with each other and I’ve sung with Broken Social Scene a bunch of times," says Vermue, explaining why he signed to the label.
“And Kevin Drew (BSS singer and label co-owner) has always been a huge fan and supporter. So it was just very natural for me to give this record to them.”
What A&C got isn’t the usual Gentleman Reg fare. Instead of light poppy numbers Vermue turned up his amp and churned out a bevy of hook-filled rockers. The most memorable tune is We’re in a Thunderstorm, an odd, but unbelievably infectious chillout dance club track.
“The music is definitely more experimental and playful,” he says. “(Unlike on other albums) I wanted what was best for the songs and let go of my ego. I was open to admitting that maybe making the song a minute shorter is better for a pop song.”
As for the dance track, Gentleman Reg says that’s from a recording session with I Am Robot’s Shaw-Han Liem. The two created an album’s worth of experimental club numbers, but Vermue decided to include We’re in a Thunderstorm on Jet Black rather than this chillout disc that may or may not see the light of day.
“I wanted something really exciting, a little spark,” says Vermue. “I went through all my dance stuff thinking I was insane to think about it, but I found that one song that’s the least dancy of all the stuff I recorded.”
So now that his record is complete and his music has found a new home, Vermue must be feeling pretty content, right? Not so much.
"I don’t feel settled. There’s a lot of stuff going on right now. And I think being too comfortable is not necessarily a good thing, that would make me lazy, and it has the past."
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