Band talks music-student balance, getting political, returning to roots
University of Ottawa alumni band Cardboard Crowns played one of their favourite venues, Mavericks, on Sept. 14 in anticipation of new material out in 2018.
The band played in Ottawa in March 2016 in support of their second long-player, Hold On, and commenced a blitz tour through Canada and many parts of the United States. They write about the constant touring on their upcoming album.
“It’s going to be mostly about touring non-stop,” said Francois Cuningham, the band’s bassist and U of O master’s in economics graduate. “We want to call it Non-Stop, we have a title track … we’ve played it at our shows.”
The forthcoming album will also embrace the band’s earlier political roots and their commitment to social justice causes. Cardboard Crown’s social justice streak was present in each of the members before they came together, and their music gave them an outlet.
According to Cuningham, frontman Joel Kuehn “is trying to get a little more political again, which is (the band’s) traditional roots.”
“Back in our U of O days we were known as a political band, then went more as a party band, and now we’re trying to go back, a little more social justice,” Cuningham said. “When I joined the band, it was something that was so cool because I finally found a bunch of musicians who thought the same. A lot of the musicians and the music we would listen to at the time was about that.”
Though the Crowns have been living in Toronto for several years, they still love to play Ottawa more frequently than others in the music scene.
“Sadly, some bands skip it, some bands call it the sleeping town … it’s government, it’s boring. For sure that’s not what we think. We love it here … I can talk to the crowd in a mix of French and English and people will understand me. You don’t get that in many other cities,” Cuningham said.
Cunningham also recalls his days as a student, where the members of Cardboard Crowns were able to manage a good student-musician balance. According to Cunningham, university is one of the best times to be in a band.
“I think it’s quite trendy right now to have a band and be in school, and I think it’s a really good combo because school has so many resources, and you can find so many people to help you balance it,” Cuningham explained. “Meet people and they will help you in your music or in your studies.”
Cuningham is also a big supporter of being involved in school outside of just classes, and thinks just going to class and nothing else gives you only a fraction of the student experience.
“Some people just go in and get out and that’s so sad when that’s what people get from their experience,” Cuningham said, “The clubs are out there looking for people all the time.”
The Crowns are also hoping to get a good student turnout at the show.
“I just love when students come out for their first time,” Cuningham said, “I think it’s so important for them to check out local venues and get to know their city.”