By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The recipe for recording a successful sophomore album begins with a bottle of cheap wine...sort of. In Ladyhawk's case, it starts with the band's beloved quick-fire sangria (cheap wine, juice and Sprite), a drafty house without electricity or plumbing and—to answer your question—a bucket in which to piss.
More than a year ago, the quartet holed up in a house they didn't necessarily call home and began churning out tracks for a follow-up to its acclaimed eponymous debut. What resulted—with a little help from some mind-expanding substances, beer and that sangria—is, appropriately, Shots.
"[The album title] kind of ties into doing shots of alcohol, or whatever, but I dunno, it can mean different things," frontman Duffy Driediger says from somewhere near Cambridge, Massachusetts. And it's true. Potshots, snapshots, liquor shots, shots in the arm—nearly all make an appearance in one way or another over the course of Ladyhawk's second offering. For Driediger, the firing off of round after round, song after song allowed a certain personal success. "I definitely feel more of an achievement for us as a band and for me as a songwriter," says Driediger. "I don't necessarily know that the songs are better, but to me they are. I definitely feel closer to it, and I'm more proud of what it is than the first one, I think."
He is aware, however, that critics may initially balk at the album's inconsistencies. But Driediger doesn't feel like that's such a bad thing. "I want [Shots] to be something that people would struggle with a bit at first," he says. "At least, my favorite albums are albums that I didn't like when I first heard them."
After waiting a year for the label to release the album, he's eager to just put the songs out there for listeners. "We can go out and tour the hell out of it, and either people like it or they don't. It's out of my hands now."
And touring is certainly what Ladyhawk is doing. The band has dates set through the end of June, taking them all over the United States and back home to Canada, where, Driediger says, as a rule, they enjoy much larger and more enthusiastic audiences. But it's not all about the usual rock 'n' roll goal of massive crowds, copious booze and selling merch, he says. "Even if it's like 15 or 20 people—if they're all really pumped up and everyone's really into it...there's nothing better than that, you know? It doesn't have to be a lot of people, but you can tell, if there's sort of like that exchange of energy between who you're playing to and you playing the show...that's where it's at."
It was in a similar live setting atmosphere where the members of Ladyhawk got to know each other. They met as teenagers hanging out at house parties and weekend shows at rec centers in Kelowna, British Columbia, Driediger says. Moving together from a town to a big city and from kids to fully functioning bandmates accounts for their natural chemistry—and their own exchange of energy—on album and onstage.
"It went from drinking together to playing music together," he says. Though, obviously, they're still drinking together. "Alcohol definitely is a part of [the rock lifestyle]. It's something we've definitely indulged in, but, you know, when we're on a six-week tour like this you can't really do it every night. We like to have a good time, but we're not like maniacs or anything. We're decently mellow people."
During on-wagon nights, the band taps the chemistry with a good audience for a feeling akin to drunkenness. But, in the spirit of Shots, Driediger offers yet another recipe when asked what would comprise "The Ladyhawk," if such a shot existed: Confidently and quickly, he replies, "It'd be a mix of Irish whiskey, Irish cream and...something fruity—throw in some Malibu.
"It'd prolly be really disgusting."
Perhaps. But not as disgusting as that piss bucket.