From South Eastern Ireland to the home of their namesake, Newfoundland (the band) heads to Newfoundland and Labrador this May. Ahead of their flight across the Atlantic we catch up with frontman Michael Grace in our latest Q&A.
By Dillon Collins
I understand this tour of the island for you guys has been a long time in the making. You all must be excited?
Definitely. We kind of chose the name because of the connection where we come from, the Southeast of Ireland. When we were looking for a name someone came across that there was a Newfoundland dialect of Irish/Gaelic language and we looked more into it. At the time we knew there was kind of a connection and you’d always hear of the place being spoke about when you grew up. When we really looked into it it was like wow, it’s a huge connection between the two places and it really suited us. We thought it was really cool and the more we played the more we started to run into people from there. We’d have people coming up to us at gigs and asking us about it and if it was where we were from. They always said “you’ll have to come visit someday.”
Last year we did a show and the Celtic Fiddlers from Newfoundland were touring around the country at the time and we put on a show, a kind of joined show with them. It worked really well. Korona Brophy, who is kind of the head of the Celtic Fiddlers has been really helpful with getting everything together. We really can’t wait to come over now. It’s great that it’s really materializing.
During your research or dealings with Newfoundlanders have you had the opportunity to sample much in the way of our traditional/Irish Newfoundland music? Curious to your take?
We’ve been looking into a lot of stuff you know. We’ve all been listening to a lot of stuff and we’ll definitely have some traditional Newfoundland pieces done when we get over there. We’re really looking forward to meeting so many great musicians that are over there and who we’ve been in contact with for a long time. Just to get everything set up, they’re all so friendly and it feels like they’re really easy to deal with. Kind of like-minds with the Newfoundland musicians.
You’re touring the island pretty extensively during your time here, so if your goal was to experience the province as much as possible you’ve certainly done a grand job in the planning.
Definitely and that’s the way we wanted to do it. Originally what came in was the Trails Tales and Tunes Festival. We said, can we do this? And we thought we could make a bigger thing out of this, make a tour out of it. We knew we were going to be playing in Norris Point so we said, on the advice of people that we know, that if we got to St. John’s we could pick up some gigs along the way. It’s something we’re really looking forward, to just seeing the place, because everything that we’ve seen it looks so beautiful there and it’s a great time of year to go.
You mentioned you guys plan on filming a little mini-documentary during your time here?
That’s something that we do. We usually have a camera with us and we always try to document places that we go. We were recently on tour in Norway and were there in the middle of winter and it was great just to get a bit of the scenery in and film some performances. The big one that we wanted to do for a long time was entitled Newfoundland to Newfoundland. That was really the big aim of the band, to get over there. We’ve actually started pre-production on the short documentary of between the two places and based around the band’s visit.
What do you think it is about traditional Irish music that really resonates with listeners?
I think it’s something that is kind of in ya, whether you know it or not. I remember when I started to get into traditional music and I was surprised how much I got into it … I think it’s something that is in your bones and you don’t even really know what it is. It’s a common thing the world over for certain types of music.
So for this tour and string of life performances, what would you say we Newfoundlanders can expect from you?
We really do play a range of different stuff. I think that is what we put our selves out there as a lot of the time. We all come from different backgrounds … we really do try to put everything together and something comes out at the end. It’s an element of different things. Because we’re doing a range of different shows over there – some church shows will be more concert based and the festival and pub shows will be more rowdy. Really bits of everything to be honest.
Visit newfoundlandtheband.com for tour and ticket information and much more. Use the hash tag #NewfoundlandtoNewfoundland to connect and share with the band during their island tour, which runs from May 19-27 in St. John’s, Bonavista, Grand Falls-Windsor, Tilting, Corner Brook, Stephenville and Norris Point. Support will be provided by The Celtic Fiddlers, The Likes of Jeff Pittman and Port of Call.