Dylan Ireland Photo: Jack Martin
Dylan Ireland Photo: Jack Martin

Five Questions With ... Dylan Ireland

When laying the groundwork for his new album Every Other Night, out June 16 on Seventh Fire Records/Fontana North, Peterborough, ON-based singer/songwriter Dylan Ireland was faced with the choice of doing it under his name or to continue using the moniker of his former band Express And Company. Ultimately, the decision came with the help of Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor who told him, “Why have a band when you’ve got a rock star name?”

It’s hard for anyone involved in the vibrant Peterborough roots music scene to turn down that kind of advice from local resident Keelor, who’s become almost a sage-like figure in the community. That influence is partly evident through Every Other Night’'s raw lyricism and earthy production, the latter provided by co-producer James McKenty who in recent years has worked closely with Keelor, as well as others such as Michelle McAdorey and Matthew Barber.

For Ireland, the album is really a huge creative leap forward in all respects, fully displaying his hard-edged songwriting and performing style, which at times echoes the rumble of latter-day Springsteen. Aiding his efforts are an impressive list of CanRock guest stars, including Jim Bryson, Wintersleep’s Loel Campbell and top session bassist Anna Ruddick.

Although Express And Company effectively established Ireland’s reputation in the wake of the band’s 2013 album Ontario, he is now poised to go further as a solo artist by keeping his creative focus closer to home. Not coincidentally, one of the standout tracks on Every Other Night is entitled “Peterborough.” You can keep tabs on Dylan Ireland’s activities at dylanireland.ca.

What makes Every Other Night stand apart from your previous work?

This album is less folky and has much more of an adult alternative sound. I wanted to get away from the banjos and fiddles and focus more on guitars and keyboards. I don’t think my songwriting approach changed that much, I just wanted to experiment with bigger production. I feel like James McKenty and I were really able to pull that off.

You have some notable guests on the record. How did this come about?

I’ve been lucky enough over the past few years to contribute to a number of great albums by other artists and play shows with people who I consider to be members in some of Canada’s absolute best bands and singer/songwriters. So I just started making some calls, and it was pretty exciting to hear that some of these artists wanted to play on my record!

Is there a particular song on the album that best represents your overall vision?

I’d have to say the title track, “Every Other Night.” It’s a good example of some of the new types of sounds I wanted to explore. I feel it’s the most different sounding song from what I did on my last album Ontario.

What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?

Those would definitely be trading songs after family dinners with my brother, my dad and my uncles and cousins. Most of them had a group called The Swamp Band that played around a fair bit. That’s where the real magic happened for me as a kid, and that led to my brother and I playing as a duo for most of our teenage years.

What song by another artist do you wish you had written?

There’s so many, but at the moment I would have to say “Elegy” by Leif Vollebeck. That guy is something else.

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