The day before Woodpigeon’s new album came out, Mark Hamilton — the band’s singer — was in his Calgary home, getting ready to lie down after a rough day. He sounds tired, only getting excited when he brings up leaving Alberta.
“I’ve been pretty lucky the past couple of years,” he says. “I’ve spent five months out of the year away from here playing in places I want to go to.”
His family keeps him in the city, and while Hamilton doesn’t seem to mind the city too much, he admits he doesn’t really fit in.
“Calgary’s not the most open city,” he says. “It has a million people with one gay bar.”
Perhaps his more closed environment is one reason Hamilton hasn’t addressed his sexuality on his records. That is, until now. On his latest disc, Die Stadt Muzikanten, the singer — who says he “doesn’t live in the closet, but I don’t run around with the rainbow flag in my back pocket either” — gets more specific about gender than he has in the past.
“For a gay singer to be referring to gender, for me, that’s a big thing,” he says. “I’ve always said stuff like ‘I love you’, but I’ve never used gender before. On this CD I wanted to be very specific. This is who I am.”
That honesty comes through on a number of tracks — Our Love Is as Tall as the Calgary Tower is a haunting tune about losing a lover, while …And as The Ship Went Down is also about a troubled relationship. Overall, the record — which was inspired by his grandparents’ life in Austria during World War II and their move to Canada — is easily Woodpigeon’s best. Similar to Grizzly Bear, Hamilton layers his tunes with rich vocal melodies, delicate instrumentation and lots of reverb. It’s all very infectious and easy on the ears.
It’s also Hamilton’s ticket out of Calgary, and a life he once hated.
“I worked a proper job and it’s not something I ever want to go back to,” he says. “I get to wander around the world — I don’t see anything wrong with that life.”