When Karkwa received the 2010 Polaris Music Prize for Les Chemins de Verre, most of Canada had yet to hear of the Quebec band.
“It was our break in Canada, we were totally unknown in the West. We’ve met a lot of people we are working with now – (it) gave us exposure,” says singer-guitarist Louis-Jean Cormier over the phone from his home in Sept-Îles, Que.
The band, which also includes drummer Stéphane Bergeron, keyboardist François Lafontaine, bassist Martin Lamontagne and percussionist/singer Julien Sagot, spent its formative years in Sept-Îles, but being simple local celebrities is far behind them.
Since its inception in 1998, the band has toured Canada, the United States, France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, and has played the SXSW music festival twice. It was on a European tour when inspiration struck – as perhaps it should – in Paris, and the group recorded what would become the award-winning disc.
“When you do a record, you are inspired by the place where you are, the city,” says Cormier. “We drank a lot of red wine ... maybe that influenced us a little bit. We are not well-known (in Paris), and we didn’t play each day of the week, so we decided to try something in the studio. There were riffs and ideas, and we were surprised.”
Over 21 days in the studio, Karkwa recorded the 12 songs that became Les Chemins de Verre which was released in March 2010. The record went on to not only nab the band a giant novelty cheque, but a little Juno statue for Francophone Album of the Year.
What’s possibly more impressive than the tacks on their tour map or the mantle full of awards is the fact that Karkwa’s roster still consists of its five founding members.
“It’s hard to explain, we are just five people who find it easy to work together. We have been very tired in the last year, touring is tiring – we began to write some rules,” Cormier says with a laugh.
by Riel Lynch (Beat Reporter), Uniter.ca,September 21st 2011