Sometimes all it takes is a conversation over veggie dogs at a German music festival to get the ball rolling on a publishing deal with a well-known indie music label.
Winnipeg band Living Hour was performing at the 2019 Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg when they broke bread with an executive from Sub Pop Records — a Seattle label known for its early work with Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden.
One out-of-the-blue email exchange later and the band has become the first local group to sign with Sub Pop Publishing, an offshoot of the main label, for a two-album deal.
"The guy that runs the publishing wing basically cold-emailed us and said that he was a new fan and was wondering if we were signed to a publisher," says guitarist Gil Carroll. "We were obviously pretty excited... because the label has been around for a long time and has done a lot of really influential releases.
"It’s validating to have a big company who’s very respected in the indie world reach out to us."
The band — made up of Carroll, vocalist-keyboardist Sam Sarty, guitarist Adam Soloway and bassist Brett Ticzon — has released two records since 2016 with a third project on the way. Living Hour’s new album, due out next spring, is a slight departure from their dreamy, shoegaze sound.
The pandemic gave the musicians time and space to dabble in new genres, namely pop, and test out new lead vocal configurations. Jason Tait of the Weakerthans also drums on much of the 11-track album.
"It’s fun to mix it up a little bit," Carroll says. "Because we weren’t able to tour, we spent way more time developing these songs and every one got a ton of care… I think this it’s the best thing we’ve ever done."
The partnership with Sub Pop will hopefully open the door to new opportunities in cinematic scoring and soundtracks — something Carroll would like to do more of. Living Hour’s song I Sink I Sink, off the band’s 2019 album Softer Faces was recently featured on the Mindy Kaling-created Netflix series Never Have I Ever.
"They basically said they’re gonna pitch us to tons of different TV and movie music supervisors and hopefully land some cool placements," he says. "We feel like we’re well supported and we have a lot of great people looking out for us."
Living Hour also works with Kanine Records out of New York and Birthday Cake Media locally.
To be the first local band to strike a deal with Sub Pop Publishing (which also represents such acts as Chad VanGaalen, Shearwater and U.S. Girls) is surreal and Carroll, who co-founded Real Love Winnipeg — the independent concert promotion company behind Real Love Summer Fest and the Sherbrook Street Festival — with Soloway, hopes the announcement offers a boost to the rest of the music scene.
"Every time I see another Winnipeg band doing something cool… I get excited," he says. "It just builds the buzz about the music scene here, which is amazing. And myself and Adam book and promote shows in Winnipeg quite a bit, so we love anytime we can contribute to building up this scene."
Last week, Living Hour released a new single called Double Bus. The blissed-out collaboration with Los Angeles band Peel Dream Magazine was created virtually amid the pandemic.
Visit livinghourband.com for updates about the band’s forthcoming album.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.