In November 2017, Skydiggers co-founders, Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize, found themselves turning to the healing power of music to deal with the recent loss of several friends and family members. A weeklong writing retreat at the Banff Centre led to a recording session in early 2018 at The Tragically Hip’s studio The Bathouse with engineer/producer Nyles Spencer, drummer Peter von Althen and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Comeau. The results are Skydiggers’ latest full-length, Let’s Get Friendship Right.
Initially intending to write and record a suite of songs chronicling the Five Stages of Grief, the idea for the album gradually morphed into a nine-song celebration of the enduring relationships that have influenced, inspired and carried Finlayson and Maize through three decades of working together, and finding a way to overcome loss through music’s “good medicine.”
To coincide with the release of Let’s Get Friendship Right, the band is running a unique contest to remix the album’s current single, Ineligible, with full details available at skydiggers.com/ineligible. Deadline for entries is Oct. 21, with the winner to receive a $250 gift certificate from Long &McQuade.
Skydiggers are playing select dates across Canada this fall, wrapping things up in Toronto on Dec. 21 at the Danforth Music Hall. We spoke with Josh Finlayson just as they were about to head out on the road.
What makes Let’s Get Friendship Right stand apart from your past work?
I’d say the most significant difference is the production work by Nyles Spencer, who is the house engineer/producer at the Bathouse studio. I’ve had the chance to work with him on several occasions, and he’s very talented and intuitive. We’ve worked with many great engineers over the years, and Andy and I like the process of having people lead us to new places musically. Nyles embraced that, and we loved the results. We often record as a full band, but for this one, we recorded each song to a click track or loop and built it from the ground up.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
I like If I’m Spared. I think it’s a great example of Andy and I collaborating as songwriters. And Nyles, along with Peter Von Althen and Aaron Comeau, really elevated the recording. I also like Questions Of Love. It feels like our attempt at writing a James Bond theme. And the first single, Ineligible, is very cool.
The band has been through a ton of changes over the past 30 years, but the Maize-Finlayson partnership remains strong. What has kept you together all this time?
Humour would be a big component. You need that as a tonic for any long-term partnership. But above all, the band has been a terrific place for us to express ourselves over the years—personally and collaboratively. Music makes for good medicine for those who listen to it and make it. We feel fortunate to have the band in our lives and still have an audience that’s supportive and interested.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
No big changes of note.
What's your best touring story?
There’s so many; it all blurs into one tour at some point! We’ve had incredible experiences going to places in Canada I may have never gone otherwise. We played at the Dawson Music Festival a couple of times. On one tour, we travelled up the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson performing at First Nations communities along the way. That sticks out.
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Press: Beth Cavanagh / What's The Story