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This article was published 26/11/2014 (2353 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Five years after they started playing together in their Wolseley backyard, Winnipeg-based roots duo and next door neighbours Last Ditch on the Left are releasing their self-titled debut album.
The duo is made up of Kerri Stephens and Brent Warren. Though they’ve been dating and playing music together for years, it was last summer, while sitting on a log along the Assiniboine River with musician Matt Epp, that they finally got the push they needed to make a record.
"He told us to stop making excuses, which always ticked us off because we’re single parents with mortgages, which is not that easy to do," Warren said.
Yet after that conversation, everything just seemed to fall into place. The duo applied for VIA Rail’s artists on board program, started playing house shows to pay for the costs of recording the album, and eventually got to Toronto to record their album with veteran producer David Baxter, whom they had met in Memphis in 2010.
"It seemed like everything was a whirlwind after he (Matt Epp) was like ‘stop making excuses, just do this,’" Stephens said.
The pair were dating before they started playing together. Shortly after, they moved into a pair of small character homes next door to each other in Wolseley. The homes share a backyard and are an arms-width away from each other.
"The situation is really perfect for us. With having kids from previous relationships, they still have their own space but we’re still kind of this family, living next door. It’s really kind of an interesting thing," Stephens said.
"Our dreams aren’t buying a big house with a white picket fence, our dreams are keeping those little homes."
"I had someone ask me the other day, why don’t you just move in together? I was like, I don’t think you understand, these places are tiny. The bedrooms are maxed out. Everything’s very cosy," Warren added.
"It works because we’re not young, we’re kind of set in our ways and kind of how we run our household."
This May, Stephens and Warren got married while on tour in Germany.
Having five years worth of songs to work with, the album reflects everything from their respective experiences going through divorce to their relationship now.
"We had been through so much with the breakdowns of past marriages and rumours that were kind of going around, so some of the songs came from that period of time, from a long time ago," Stephens said.
"But also throughout the years the songs have been rewritten to a less upset point and there are some songs that are about us and some that aren’t at all, some that tell a story."
The duo wanted the album to have a more honest, raw sound to it, so most of the songs were recorded in only a few takes rather than doing take after take to iron out each little wrinkle.
"That’s the stuff we like. Stuff that might speed up and slow down during the course of the song, or the drummer misses the one and it’s just a little bit off," Warren said.
"But that stuff is left in because it has life, there’s character to it.
"A lot of the folk music from nowadays, it’s just so perfect. You can tell it’s been done over and over just to get it perfect."
Last Ditch on the Left have also partnered with Dr. Martens shoe company to blog about their experiences over the next year, while adorned with brand new Docs.
You can find their blog at walkamilewithldotl.wordpress.com
The duo’s album release concert is taking place at the West End Cultural Centre (586 Ellice Ave.) on Sat., Nov. 29, 2014.