September 24, 2020

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One last hurrah for the Middle Coast

Fan favourite to release final EP before setting sail for new creative projects

Middle Coast</p>

Middle Coast

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/1/2019 (602 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In a post on their Facebook page in early in January, Brandon-bred, Winnipeg-based pop-rock trio the Middle Coast announced a three-song EP, Encore, was on the way and said it was the best music they’ve ever made together. And then they announced the band would be parting ways after its release.

It came as a surprise for many fans; after all, the band has been omnipresent in the Winnipeg music scene for the past few years, logging hundreds of shows in town (and across the country), becoming a house band of sorts for the entire city.

But solo projects began to take off — drummer Roman Clarke released his debut EP in 2017 and has been working and writing with many of Winnipeg’s music elite, and keyboardist Liam Duncan and guitarist Dylan MacDonald, too, have been nurturing promising projects. So, as Duncan explains, it became clear it was the right time for each of the 20-something men to focus their full attention on careers outside of the Middle Coast.

"All three of us are pretty strong creators, like we make a lot of music all the time with other people and on our own, and it just became clear that we were spending more time making music separately than together, and that’s where our hearts were taking us anyway," Duncan says.

"And at a certain point, we were getting more opportunities for our solo projects, like Roman, because he was releasing stuff, that was going well. And the same sort of thing started happening for me, and then for Dylan — he got a bunch of grants to start making music — and so honestly, we’re all really excited about what we’re doing at this point, it’s just hard to do two creative projects well. It takes a lot of money, time and effort, and there are only so many hours in the day. So, at a certain point, we decided it would be best to focus on one thing at a time and bring that chapter of our creative lives to an end."

The new EP truly is the best music the band has released in their career, which includes the full-length album The Making Of:, released in 2017. The production is slicker, the writing is stronger and everything points toward a more mature, well-rounded version of the Middle Coast.

"I’ve always felt like the band sort of struggled to mutate in recordings somehow, and I’m not exactly sure why. We spent a lot of time working on our live show and we played a ton of shows, that was kind of our thing, we just toured so much. But for some reason, we would record a lot of stuff at home... and it never really came out the way we wanted it to," Duncan says.

"But these ones we made in 2018 and we sort of stepped up all the production efforts; we worked with higher-calibre producers on it, and actually spent quite a bit more money, which helps quite a bit, believe it or not, and also we just grew a lot as songwriters and that helps a lot too."

It may seem counterintuitive to release the best music of your career just a few weeks before calling it quits, but Duncan assures that wasn’t the band’s mindset when they initially recorded the tracks last year. The EP was limited to just three songs when it became apparent each member was ready to move on to other things; there was no sense investing more time, creative energy and money into a project that wouldn’t really be marketed or toured.

The Middle Coast’s farewell show is Feb. 2 and will be a celebration of the band’s time together, featuring a set loaded with classic tracks they’ve been playing live for years. Duncan also expects a couple of special guests to make an appearance and anticipates it will be an exceptionally fun night — if not a bit emotional.

"I mean in some ways even since... well definitely over the last six or seven months that we haven’t been active, it’s been different. Like I would see those guys literally five days a week and sometimes for months at a time we would see each other every day, and now we’re not as much and we don’t all live together or anything, so I probably will feel a little bit sad about it," Duncan says.

"Definitely will, actually."

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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